Guernsey’s new model of secondary and further education will be delayed by a year until September 2025. This means it will not be fully introduced until after the next general election.
The Committee for Education, Sport and Culture announced the revised timeline for its reorganisation project this afternoon.
The Committee's original plan was for its new model to be up and running by 2024, including the closure of La Mare de Carteret High School and opening of a new sixth form centre at Les Ozouets next to a new Guernsey Institute bringing together previously separate providers of further and higher education.
These plans were approved by the States in September last year following several days of debate and after multiple amendments for other models were rejected.
Pictured: The original timeline has been delayed by a year.
Concerns were raised in November that this timeline would be impossible to meet. At that time, the Committee acknowledged that "external challenges" presented a risk to the timeline but said it hoped they would not delay the launch of the new education model.
This afternoon, the Committee conceded defeat in its attempts to stick to its original timeline, citing “specifically the potential risks of construction delays and additional financial costs associated with continuing to target a September 2024 completion date.”
Although the Committee is moving its target completion date by one year to September 2025, it is hopeful that some key elements of the new model could be in place before then. For example, it says that staff and students at The Guernsey Institute may be able to move into their new buildings early in 2025 or during that year's Easter holidays.
Pictured: The Committee for Education, Sport and Culture.
The Committee said: “This decision was reached after significant engagement with the local firms currently tendering for the construction of the post-16 campus at Les Ozouets.
“A restricted procedure [closed tender] has enabled engagement with local contractors that have the capability and capacity to complete this project, having been identified through a robust pre-qualification process.”
The Committee said it was announcing the delay to offer certainty and avoid the risk of further delays closer to the end of the reorganisation project.
Pictured: La Mare de Carteret High School will now remain open for another year - until 2025 - at an additional cost of £1.6million.
The delay means that La Mare de Carteret High School will remain open for another year until July 2025. The Committee says this will cost an additional £1.6million.
The delay does not require changes to the feeder school system from primaries to secondaries published by the Committee previously. This includes the last intake of year seven students at La Mare de Carteret arriving in September 2022.
The Committee says it is being “intentionally prudent” with projections for the financial impact of the delay.
“The anticipated savings of £1.2million associated with consolidating into a single post-16 campus will not now be realised until 2026,” said the Committee.
The President of the Committee, Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, said: “We’ve been open with the community in recent months that the timeline for implementing the new model for secondary and post-16 education was under significant pressures outside of our Committee’s control. Nevertheless, I’m obviously disappointed that we’ve had to reluctantly agree a new timeframe for the new buildings at the Les Ozouets Campus.
“This is frustrating primarily as it is an additional year before the benefits of the new system will begin to be felt. But I am satisfied that a huge amount of effort has gone into looking at everything possible to maintain the initial timeline and this really is a case of recognising the external factors being outside of anyone’s control."
Pictured: Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen said: “It is well-known that the construction industry locally is under pressure and very much in demand, not least via other States' projects.”
Deputy Dudley-Owen said the Committee is aware that the delay will be disappointing for some people but that it is in the best interests of students and staff.
“While incurring any additional cost, or a reduction in realised savings, is not unimportant, in the wider context it must be remembered that the combined build programmes of the new facilities for The Guernsey Institute and reorganisation of secondary education is a £100m initiative and contingency costs have been budgeted for in the capital sum approved by the States," she said.
“It is much more important that we get it right rather than rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline and introducing unnecessary risks.
"Lengthening the timeframe for the build also enables us to work with whichever contractor is selected to keep costs down rather than potentially facing increased costs associated with rushing to meet an earlier completion date.
"Most importantly, the Committee’s early decision to adjust the timeline for moving to the new buildings and to maintain the current transitional arrangements for students leaving primary school provides certainty and at the same time minimises disruption, as far as possible, for students and staff.
"This has been, and will remain, a key focus of all members of our Committee throughout."
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