Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen says parents of students at St. Sampson’s High School should have confidence that her Committee will oversee a turnaround at the school.
The President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture told the States that she and her members are "part of the solution" and are already seeing improvements three weeks after OFSTED visited the school and rated it as inadequate in three out of four categories.
Deputy Dudley-Owen was replying to urgent questions put to her in the States’ Assembly yesterday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, she said in broadcast interviews that she would not resign following the highly critical inspectors’ report.
Deputy Dudley-Owen told the States that St. Sampson’s "must improve in a marked way within the next 12 to 18 months".
"In our contract with OFSTED, we are able to request monitoring reports in that timeframe and the political committee will be looking for improvement and will be receiving regular updates and this will be tightly monitored by the Headteacher and staff in Education," she said.
"An action plan is in play…improvements have been made and the upward trajectory of positive improvement has already begun."
Pictured: Deputy Lyndon Trott asked Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen about parents' views of her Committee.
Deputy Lyndon Trott asked Deputy Dudley-Owen whether she thought her Committee could retain the confidence of parents and why.
"It is extremely important that the parents of any school community retain their confidence not just in the political committee leading the system but also the headteacher and their staff in the school community," said Deputy Dudley-Owen.
"We have confidence in the Headteacher. We are part of the solution for the future success of St. Sampson’s in addition to the future success of the Guernsey education system."
Deputy Dudley-Owen spoke highly of the school’s Headteacher since September 2020, Vicky Godley, and the Director of Education, Nick Hynes, who has been a senior official at the Education Office since 2010. She said they have "a very good, proven track record in leading schools to improvement and success".
Pictured: The States were asked to back Headteacher, Vicky Godley, and Director of Education, Nick Hynes, in their efforts to lead change at the school.
OFSTED inspectors said the quality of education at St. Sampson’s "is not good enough", "far too many pupils do not gain the knowledge they need because staff do not have high enough expectations of what they can achieve” and “pupils’ behaviour around the school is poor".
Deputy Neil Inder was dissatisfied with the school’s immediate response to publication of the inspection report on Tuesday.
"Where is the responsibility from the management of the school? I have not heard any apologies emanating from the management of the school," said Deputy Inder.
In reply, Deputy Dudley-Owen said that Ms Godley had already stated publicly that she was "truly sorry that the school is not delivering at the level we would expect".
Pictured: Deputy Neil Inder asked why managers at the school had not apologised following the OFSTED report but he was told they had already done so publicly.
OFSTED was also highly critical of safeguarding at the school, which they said was "not effective".
"When bullying happens, pupils report it to their teachers, but they have little confidence that staff will be able to put a stop to it. As a result, many pupils do not feel safe in school," said inspectors.
They concluded that "many pupils do not feel safe at school because they fear poor behaviour or bullying".
Deputy Gavin St. Pier asked: "Given the report’s findings, especially that bullying is a major issue at the school, does the Committee accept that this raises safeguarding responsibilities for the States which do need to be urgently addressed?"
In reply, Deputy Dudley-Owen said: "I think it’s very important to reassure everybody in this Chamber and anybody listening…that safeguarding policies and procedures are absolutely in place as everyone would expect, in addition to the proper structure for safeguarding being in place in the Education Office, which previously it hasn’t been before this term to the extent it is now.
"What Deputy St. Pier alludes to is cultural and that needs time to change. That needs very strong leadership and consistency of application of those said processes and procedures."
Pictured: The questions to the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture were made possible by an urgent question submitted overnight by Deputy Gavin St. Pier.
Deputy St. Pier had submitted the original urgent question, which was allowed by Acting Presiding Officer Deputy John Gollop.
Deputy St. Pier asked: "Does the Committee agree that the findings of the OFSTED report on St. Sampson’s High School released yesterday reveal a picture which is wholly unacceptable in an affluent community which continues to invest heavily in education and that pupils, parents and the island deserve an unreserved apology for the failings identified?"
In reply, Deputy Dudley-Owen said: "Yes, we agree that the current standards are far from good enough, and this is not acceptable.
"I am grateful for the opportunity for the record formally to apologise, which I now do to the students, their families and the wider St. Sampson’s High community for the failings identified. I have also given a personal apology to the whole community in a published media release and I have apologised to all my fellow States’ members via e-mail.
"I have done this because we, the Committee, are accountable and, as the President, I am even more so
"But I cannot agree we have invested heavily – certainly not heavily enough – in the States’ education system and that is why…we have sought and have very recently been given access to further financial resources from 2022 which will be used to provide more front-line support."
Pictured: Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen and her Vice President, Deputy Bob Murray, have helped to secure additional funding of more than £9million for education and training over the next few years.
OFSTED "will return" after scathing St. Sampson's High report
St. Sampson's High School rated "inadequate" by OFSTED
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