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Education amendments "show no real understanding of how complex education systems are"

Education amendments

Tuesday 07 September 2021

Education amendments "show no real understanding of how complex education systems are"


Education, Sport & Culture has published a 'side-by-side comparison' of the future education models proposed by the Committee and the numerous alternatives that have been submitted as amendments.

The document has been drawn up by Education staff ahead of this week's crucial debate, which will see a range of amendments put forward in place of ESC's preferred model.

“This comparison document demonstrates a level of naivety in the approach that some of our colleagues have taken when laying these amendments,” said ESC President Andrea Dudley-Owen. 

“They have proposed models without any real understanding of how complex education systems are and what the structures they have proposed would actually look like in practice, or in some cases whether the detail in their amendment is even deliverable, especially where that detail contains contradictions.”

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen

Pictured: “Education has a vital role to play in stabilising and growing our economy and this debate is about education being part of our recovery in the short-term, and future-proofing the delivery of Secondary and post-16 education in the long-term,” said Deputy Dudley-Owen.

Debate started on the reorganisation of Guernsey’s Secondary and Post-16 Education on 14 July but was suspended after the States ran out of time before the summer break.

The long-running issue will return to the States Assembly tomorrow, for what could be the last debate on the hotly-contested future of secondary and post-16 education in the island.

The Committee remains steadfastly by its preferred model: three 11-16 schools at St Sampsons, Les Beaucamps, and Les Varendes, with a sixth form centre located at Les Ozouets campus. It would require the closure of La Mare de Careteret and has been badly received by teachers across the island, 87% of who do not support the proposals, according to a survey of around 200 teaching staff.

The comparison document includes the now defeated Cameron/de Sausmarez Amendment, which was considered the ‘do minimum’ option at the time; two amendments from Deputies Le Tocq and Al Brouard have also been included, an amendment from Deputies Leadbeater and David de Lisle, and another submitted this week by Deputies Matthews and Gollop.

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Pictured: The document considers the various ramifications of each model, including cost, capacity, and construction.

Deputy Dudley-Owen said that re-designing an education model is inherently complicated and cannot be adjusted on the fly through further amendments.

“This is why I have consistently said, that it is never a good idea to design education policy via amendment from the floor of the Assembly, or even in isolation from experts who have experience in systems design,” she said.

She said that all cost implications have been fully realised by the current committee and any alternative model will cost either the same or more.

“Yes, there is a significant capital investment in that part of our plans, but what opponents don’t tell you is that there is also a significant cost to leaving things the way they are. 

“The cost of building a new sixth form centre at Les Ozouets represents value for money. Investing in our people is the best investment of all, especially in the Post 16 phase of education if we’re to ensure we have the structures and infrastructure in place to deliver flexible options for our young people in the future,” she said.

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Pictured: The cost implications of all the proposed models, according to ESC's working. 

The document was compiled by a team of officers from ESC’s Transforming Education Programme Team.

“The first thing that our Committee must make clear is this is not a political document. It has been prepared by officers who have spent time reviewing the various amendments, along with details they include and also key details not included. 

“These are really important points that people should keep in mind when reading the side-by-side comparison document,” said Deputy Dudley-Owen.

The comparison document also includes two amendments that were lodged yesterday, one from Deputies Aidan Matthews and John Gollop to suspend proceedings for sixth months to consider a new secondary school at the La Mare de Carteret site, and a second amendment from Deputies Lyndon Trott and Al Brouard pushing for more cost clarity and joined working with the Policy and Resources Committee.

Responding to the ESC document, Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller said the side-by-side comparison attributes costs to models that should be taken out.

“First, the comparison adds £5 million to accommodate the Music Centre, Youth Commission and SHARE,” she said. 

“This cost should not be added to any of the amendments because the cost to accommodate the Music Centre was already subsumed as part of capital cost options for The Guernsey Institute. 

“The Youth Commission was not supposed to remain at Les Ozouets and instead accommodated as part of developing a future Community Hub at a different site completely. 

“It is not appropriate to load amendments with a cost of £5 million that be included as part of TGI development.”

Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller

Pictured: Deputy Kazantseva-Miller is unhappy with how the comparison has been carried out. 

Secondly, Deputy Kazantseva-Miller contends that the Committee comparison adds a 40% optimism bias, compared to those of the committee, which assumes a 25% bias.

“The Committee cannot claim as it does in its press-release that “costs are roughly the same” when it clearly has not provided a like-for-like comparison of the models.”

Before catering for optimism bias and taking the cost of accommodating the Music Centre out, the Deputy argues that the cost of the Cameron model – which was defeated in the States in July - is roughly £24 million.  

“The basic Cameron model is nearly half the price of the ESC preferred model focused on relocating a perfectly viable Sixth Form Centre 500 metres away and forever taking away an option for islanders to publicly educate their kids in a 11-18 setting, leaving this option to private colleges only.”

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