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Overwhelming majority of teachers reject Education's secondary school model

Overwhelming majority of teachers reject Education's secondary school model

Friday 09 July 2021

Overwhelming majority of teachers reject Education's secondary school model


Only 12 out of 194 secondary school teachers have expressed support for ESC's plans for the future of secondary education, in a damaging blow to the committee.

The States will next week be asked to approve three 11-16 schools at Les Beaucamps, Les Varendes and St Sampson’s. The proposals would also see the Sixth Form Centre co-located with the Guernsey Institute at Les Ozouets Campus, which will be demolished and rebuilt, at an estimated total cost of £43.5m.

Secondary school staff concerns have escalated in recent weeks, leading to Committee Member Andy Cameron rebelling from the committee line and proposing an alternative model based around 11-16 schools at St Sampson's and Les Beaucamps, with a Sixth Form attached to a third 11-16 at Les Varendes. 

Meanwhile, Deputies Marc Leadbeater and David de Lisle want the States to instead rebuild La Mare de Carteret High as one of the 11-16 schools and have a separate Sixth Form Centre at the Grammar School site. 

combined_education_survey_results_.png

Pictured: 100% of La Mare de Carteret staff - whose school will be closed under Education's proposals - oppose those plans. 

These amendments were submitted on Tuesday and are yet to be meaningfully consulted upon. That is unlikely to happen on the hoof in the short time before debate starts next Wednesday.

However, a group of teachers from across the four mainstream secondary schools have carried out a survey on Education's proposals in recent weeks, which has helped to quantify the profession's views.

Three out of every four teachers responded to the survey, with 311 staff members in total invited to participate.

87% of teachers who responded opposed the Committee’s proposals, while 9% expressed support and 4% declared themselves to be undecided. It was only the Grammar staff who were given the opportunity to say they were undecided. 

Speaking on behalf of teachers who organised the survey, Les Beaucamps High School teacher Sarah Buck said the findings substantiate the concerns that have been raised around the future of Guernsey's education system.

“As States employees, teachers and other staff in schools are often uncomfortable expressing their views on this issue publicly. However, it has been clear for some time that the profession has very serious concerns about the committee’s proposals – to the extent that we do not know how the proposals will work in practice.

Education, Sport & Culture Committee

Pictured: Deputy Andy Cameron (bottom centre) has rebelled against his committee's proposals following staff engagement sessions revealed serious concerns about the plans on the table. 

"It is also unclear how these proposals will improve the educational outcomes or the well-being of our young people. When the committee’s policy letter was published, it was clear that the concerns of staff had not been addressed."

Other staff groups in schools expressed similar levels of opposition. Among learning support assistants and learning mentors, 85% of respondents were opposed the committee’s plans.

"This is an extremely high level of opposition across all staff – perhaps unprecedented – and we trust that States’ members will reflect on this very seriously ahead of next week’s debate," said Ms Buck.

"Given the lack of confidence in the proposal among the very people tasked with making it work, school staff are sending out a clear message to deputies."

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Pictured: Staff at St Sampson's High were by far the most supportive of Education's proposals. 

Sean McManus, a long-term representative of local teachers, said the survey results clearly indicate that staff lack confidence in ESC's proposals.

“Those working in our schools know that, above all, students deserve not just any decision to be made but rather a decision which will provide the widest opportunities and secure the best educational outcomes in the years ahead," he said. 

"Deputies wishing to make an informed decision, one motivated by educational objectives and value for money concerns, may well share the view that a better solution is possible for the future of secondary education in Guernsey.”

In response, ESC President Andrea Dudley-Owen said: "The committee has been consistent that we don't believe it is either helpful or appropriate to speak to staff via the media. What we do believe in, however, is continued direct engagement with staff.

"We have an extensive programme of staff engagement and this is ongoing. For example, members of the programme team have been attending each secondary school this week, the committee attended one of the schools yesterday to speak to staff who asked us to visit and continue to engage."

The States will be asked next week to approve funding for Education's four-school proposals, which is the final stage of approval needed. 

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