With recent revelations concerning the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture still dominating political discussions in the island, former ESC member, Deputy Carl Meerveld has shared his thoughts on the situation with Express.
While he stood down after a 'guerilla marketing campaign' was found to have been funded and set up by him, the St Sampson's deputy says the current issues facing ESC raise a number of questions for the States in general about impartiality:
Pictured: The States of Guernsey will vote on the funding of the new secondary school model early next month.
The current States Assembly is unusually 'left-wing'. I believe that it is not representative of our population. While no statistics are available, I think Guernsey is probably 70-80% 'centre' or 'right of centre'. Despite this, I believe our current Assembly is over 50% left-leaning. They are not 'hard-left', but they share a left-leaning ideology: something that has made them more cohesive as a group and which enables them to promote policies that are based more on ideology than practicality. Examples of this are the waste and traffic strategies.
These policies can be adjusted in future. If the electorate vote for a more centre/right-leaning Assembly in 2020, then these policies could be adapted to make them more practical and sustainable.
Things become more concerning when ideology impacts long term changes to our children's education system. If the proposed two large impractical secondary school complexes are built, our community will have to live with the negative impacts for a very long time.
Pictured: The current ESC committee, led by President, Deputy Matt Fallaize (left).
Since the new Committee for Education, Sport and Culture (ESC) took up their posts in February 2018, Deputies have been hearing alarming rumours: reports of sweeping changes of personnel within the Office for ESC - removal of very experienced long-serving senior Officers in exchange for arguably less experienced individuals who share the Committee's ideology regarding education.
Confirmation of these reports came with the publication of Deputy Matt Fallaize's email regarding the appointment of the Head of Curriculum Standards. An email which provided clear evidence of bullying and inappropriate interference. Evidence of breaches of good governance much worse than any accusations levelled at the Home Affairs Committee and yet not acted upon by P&R?
This is not the first time that P&R have illustrated hypocrisy and double standards when dealing with Committees, however this instance is particularly blatant. P&R called for the resignation of the Home Affairs Committee within days of publication of a report criticising their governance. A report based on hearsay with no concrete evidence. However, when clear evidence is presented of far more egregious behaviour on behalf of ESC, they are conspicuously quiet. Possibly because Deputy St Pier was copied into the email and purportedly personally intervening.
Pictured: Deputies Lyndon Trott, Jane Stephens and Gavin St Pier spoke on behalf of P&R when the report into Home Affairs was released.
States HR rules stipulate that new senior positions like the Head of Curriculum and Standards require advertising and an independent interview panel be convened to assess the best candidate for the post.
The Committee's preferred applicant failed for a second time to be chosen in a competitive selection process, having previously not been selected for another senior position. The selection panel decided 4-1 that the individual finally appointed was not the best candidate for the job and that a local resident was. Deputy Fallaize being the only one to disagree.
Deputy Fallaize then sent his notorious email pressuring and bullying a senior Officer. He threatened her with losing her position within ESC, which she subsequently did. Plus, members of the Committee threatened to resign unless their preferred candidate was hired. This resulted in a HR manager resigning after being instructed to make, what she believed, was an illegal, false statement on an application for an out-of-policy long-term employment permit.
Pictured: Clare Sealy is due to move to Guernsey this summer to take up her new senior position within education locally.
Civil service recruitment policies are designed to identify the best candidate to ensure the highest level of service to our community during an appointees’ potentially long career. By forcing the hiring of a candidate based on ideology rather than ability, the service is compromised long term as it brings into question the quality and impartiality of service while that appointee is in post.
One of the core principles of the civil service is that they impartially implement policies of the States Assembly or Committee in post. The issue is; if the Committee has filled the Offices for ESC with ideologues, then they could well impede future Assemblies and future Committees from receive impartial advice and support for their policies.
The decision has not yet been made to proceed with the flawed impractical two - (mega) school proposal for our education system. On 4 September, the States will debate whether to trust the current ESC Committee with £157 million to literally set their policies in concrete.
It is not too late for you to have your say and help avert this. Please, let all Deputies know what you think by emailing email@example.com.
The above was written by Deputy Carl Meerveld, and is his opinion and not that of Express.
Express has offered Education, Sport and Culture and Policy and Resources the right of reply.
Pictured top: Deputy Carl Meerveld.
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