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ESC member says Committee needs "a more economical model"

ESC member says Committee needs

Friday 09 December 2022

ESC member says Committee needs "a more economical model"

Friday 09 December 2022


A member of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture is pressing for "a more economical model" of secondary and further education following the collapse of the States’ deal with RG Falla to build a post-16 campus.

The Committee acknowledges that its search for a new construction partner will probably further delay plans to build a sixth form college and The Guernsey Institute at Les Ozouets beyond the most recent target completion date of September 2025.

Deputy Andy Cameron hopes his colleagues on the Committee will now use the further delay to reconsider an alternative education model he put forward 18 months ago.

He said last night that he still believed the model he suggested then would be "more efficient than the current proposed model".

Deputy Andy Cameron

Pictured: Deputy Andy Cameron, who last year was the lone voice on the Committee expressing doubts about its planned £105million reorganisation of secondary and further education.

Deputy Cameron's preferred option had some similarities to the £105million model which has been States' policy since September 2021 – in particular, retaining 11-16 schools at Les Beaucamps and St. Sampson's.

However, he wanted to maintain 11-18 education at Les Varendes, avoiding the need for a new sixth form college at Les Ozouets. Under his plan, Les Ozouets would have accommodated only The Guernsey Institute, which combines all further and higher education.

"We certainly would be better considering a more economical model given our general fiscal position, the pressure from the Policy & Resources Committee to make savings and the looming debate on the introduction of GST," said Deputy Cameron last night.

"The model I put forward was… far less revenue hungry [with] a lot less capital expenditure. It included significant improvements to our current secondary schools and was supported by 87% of teachers.

"If the savings were used to improve educational outcomes, everyone wins."

combined_education_survey_results_.png

Pictured: Deputy Cameron recalled a survey of teachers undertaken in 2021 which revealed that the overwhelming majority were opposed to the Committee's plans for three 11-16 schools and a separate sixth form college co-located with The Guernsey Institute.  

The Committee's President, Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, said she and her members were "not disheartened" at the loss of their construction partner because they "know that this model remains the right fit for Guernsey and builds a firm foundation for the island’s future success".

But she acknowledged that "it is not yet possible to state with any accuracy what the cost implication" will be of appointing a new contractor to build a post-16 campus, most probably with a longer completion date.

Deputy Cameron said he was not that surprised by the challenges now facing the Committee and that "all options need to be explored".

"Obviously I'm disappointed with the position we're left in – increased costs of building materials [and] difficulties with staff recruitment and retention," he said. "I don't think it's come as a surprise to anyone that R G Falla pulled out."

Deputy Cameron raised concerns only last month about the Committee losing its Vice President, Deputy Bob Murray, when he moved to sit on the Policy & Resources Committee. Deputy Murray is widely believed to have been the driving force behind the proposed post-16 campus.

But Deputy Cameron said yesterday that the collapse of the deal with R G Falla was unrelated to Deputy Murray's departure from the Committee and that there was "very little Bob could have done about it if he had remained with the Committee".

Deputy_Andrea_Dudley-Owen_and_schools_and_College_of_FE.jpg

Pictured: The President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, said the agreed reorganisation of secondary and further education remains on track despite the loss of its construction partner for its flagship post-16 campus at Les Ozouets.

Deputy Cameron said the potential effect on students was now his main concern following the collapse of the deal with R G Falla and the resultant uncertainty surrounding the proposed post-16 campus.

"I am very concerned about the impact this will have on all students," he said.

In relation to sixth form students, he said: "Whatever is decided, we should remember that they began their secondary education with two lockdowns.

"We need to make sure that whatever is decided with regard to the sixth form doesn't have a negative impact on their educational outcomes, which are excellent at present."

In relation to further education students, he said: "There is also the prolonged period of overcrowding of our College of Further Education students, many of whom have been relocated to portacabins."

Most students and staff at the College of Further Education have already been moved out of Les Ozouets pending the construction of a post-16 campus there and are currently located in permanent or temporary blocks on the College's other sites at La Route de Coutanchez and Delancey.

College of Further Education Ozouet Campus

Pictured: The College of Further Education may face the greatest impact of the collapse of the deal with R G Falla to build a new post-16 campus having already been moved out of Les Ozouets into sub-optimal facilities on other sites. 

The vacancy on the Committee created by Deputy Murray's departure will be filled by the States at their meeting next week.

Express understands that Deputy Aidan Matthews has expressed an interest in joining the Committee.

Deputy Matthews previously advocated a model of secondary education based on three 11-18 States' schools or colleges. He also voted for Deputy Cameron's suggested model in preference to the Committee's model when they were debated by the States' Assembly in July and September 2021.

Deputy Matthews said at the time that the model put forward by the Committee and agreed by the States' Assembly was "a simple levelling down exercise to reach the lowest common denominator".

"It Introduces inefficiencies that weren't there at all," he said. "We are throwing away money at a time for something that isn't worth doing. We've moved to one site for no good reason with poor infrastructure."

The Committee has not yet announced its preferred candidate to fill the vacancy and is under no obligation to do so ahead of the election on Wednesday.  

READ MORE...

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States drop education campus contractor

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New post-16 campus secures planning consent

Union awaits "coherent vision" for post-16 project at Les Ozouets 

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