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IT outage left school staff in the dark

IT outage left school staff in the dark

Friday 13 January 2023

IT outage left school staff in the dark

Friday 13 January 2023

The first States IT outage in December left multiple education staff on the back foot as the island's media was able to report on the wider impact of the cancelled contract with RG Falla to build the new post 16 campus before they had officially been told.

An email was sent to education staff, before the media were informed - however, the IT outage affected school email systems for longer than many other services meaning many people did not receive the information before they were able to read about it in the media reports.

Education, Sport, and Culture confirmed the delay in notifying some staff of the contract cancellation, along with changes to the schools staffing structure and other changes to the delivery of the transformation of secondary education, in response to a rule 14 question asked by Deputy Gavin St Pier.

A rule 14 question is a formal States method of requesting information - with a reply in writing expected within two weeks.


Pictured: Deputy Gavin St Pier has spent much time scrutinising the work of ESC, led by Deputy Andrea Dudley Owen, during this term of office.

The States' IT system crashed on 25 November when a server room at Sir Charles Frossard House overheated and back up plans failed. 

Services and users were disrupted for several days while some services, including school emails were disrupted for longer.

The news regarding the cancellation of the contract with RG Falla to build the new post 16 campus at Les Ozouets was shared with the media at 15:03 on Wednesday 7 December, under embargo until 16:00 that day. 

Further information was shared with the media regarding the impact of the cancelled contract on the wider re-organisation of secondary and post 16 education at 15:01 on Tuesday 13 December, embargoed until 16:00 that day. 

ESC has acknowledged: "There was a regrettable delay in notifying some staff, due to States of Guernsey IT issues on the day the message was disseminated (13 December 2022).

"The Director of Education apologised to staff for this in a subsequent email on 15 December 2022 and expanded upon the reasons for the decision."



Pictured: Emails sent to the media sought to ensure school staff had received the information first, but the States IT outages meant they hadn't.

The email sent by Director of Education, Nick Hynes on 15 December said:

"The media release attached provides detail on the Committee’s decision to temporarily move the Sixth Form Centre to the La Mare de Carteret High School site in September 2025, including some of the rationale for the decision.

"While this is clearly a move that everyone wishes could have been avoided, the Committee has sought to provide certainty as soon as possible following the decision of the States of Guernsey to withdraw from using R.G. Falla Limited to build the new post-16 campus."

Mr Hynes also sought to explain the "key reasons for the decision, which were not included in the full media release" giving additional details relevant to education staff but not the wider public including outlining how the transition of students from La Mare de Carteret High School to the site at Les Varendes would continue as planned in September 2025, and the wider re-organisation of 11-16 education into three schools from September 2025, as planned.

Mr Hynes wrote detailed descriptions of how staff at La Mare de Carteret High School would be affected by the changes, acknowledging that staff across all States run secondary educational sites will be affected.

"As staff working in the secondary sector, you have faced many years of uncertainty and indecision around the future model and temporarily re-locating the Sixth Form Centre ensures continuity around the timescales for implementation of the 11-16 re- organisation. We know that many of you are fatigued by the ongoing uncertainty, and we want to provide certainty for all our staff," he said.

"It avoids the prospect of approximately 1,300 students being on the Les Varendes Site in the 2025/26 academic year which would be the case if La Mare de Carteret High students transitioned to the site and the Sixth Form Centre remained there. This raises concerns, not only about the feasibility of timetabling and the delivery of curriculum to this number of students on the site, but also about the safety of the site in terms of space, fire risk and insufficient facilities, including toilets for that number of students. These challenges made this site a less attractive option than the intended use of La Mare de Carteret High School; especially when the community has so strongly voiced objections to large schools."

Nick Hynes and Liz Coffey

Pictured: Nick Hynes and Liz Coffey are among the senior education staff liaising with staff over any concerns they have.

ESC has also confirmed, in writing to Deputy St Pier, that some school staff remained concerned about the impact of the ongoing changes, and the more recent developments, on their own roles.

"We acknowledge that some staff have concerns, however, a small proportion of the total workforce have raised concerns and we are in the process of listening to, and where appropriate taking action to mitigate these.

"This has included separate visits to La Mare de Carteret High School and the Grammar School and Sixth Form Centre from the Director of Education and members of the Transformation Team to meet directly with staff."

Further meetings and discussions are expected to take place as further information is confirmed around the delivery of the transformation of secondary education project and further developments with appointing a new contractor to build the new sixth form centre at Les Ozouets.


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