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Separate sixth form "not a good basis for higher education"

Separate sixth form

Friday 11 June 2021

Separate sixth form "not a good basis for higher education"


Leaked engagement notes from a meeting between the Education Committee and a group of Grammar School staff could lead to a Committee Member being investigated for sharing 'confidential' documents with 14 other States Deputies.

Engagement notes from the meeting on 27 April were shared with group of deputies on 4 June, while they have also been sent to local media.

Compiled by an independent facilitator who attended the meeting between politicians, school staff and the committee's independent overseer - Advocate Peter Harwood - the notes detail serious concerns from a group of Grammar School staff about the proposed education reorganisation for  three 11-16 schools and a separate sixth form.

The concerns were put forward by 24 members of school staff as part of a series of staff engagement sessions conducted by the Education, Sport & Culture Committee at each of Guernsey’s secondary schools and The Guernsey Institute.

Participants flagged that previous workshops between politicians and staff had seen the proposed model identified "as the most expensive option and an option not to be considered."

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Pictured: The sharing of documents by Deputy Cameron to 14 other Deputies could be investigated as a potential breach of this section of the Code of Conduct.

Participants questioned who the committee had listened to when the decision had been made on the model, saying that 11-18 staff did not feel they had been listened to, despite the committee saying that staff engagement lies at the heart of their model.

The group made the case for retaining an 11-18 school at Les Varendes - where they teach.

"The pressures placed on a separate sixth form would result in staff teaching a range of subject outside their specialist to meet the needs of the curriculum requirements," the independently-scribed notes report.

"Participants felt strongly that this would not give students a good basis for achieving a higher level of education."

ESC President Andrea Dudley-Owen said her committee continued to engage directly with staff and did not want to do this via the media. 

“The purpose of these sessions was to explain the proposed changes and the rationale behind them, and to give staff the opportunity to provide feedback and raise concerns," she said.

"We fully understand why some staff might be feeling concerned about the prospect of change, that is a natural part of the process of any significant change.  But as the current model is not sustainable, change is inevitable."

Deputy Carl Meerveld

Pictured: Sacc President Carl Meerveld said it had been raised with him that Deputy Cameron might have broken States confidentiality rules by sharing documents with deputies without committee approval. It was not Deputy Cameron who leaked those documents to Express.

It is not known at this time whether meetings with the other secondary schools were more positive or of a similar tone. 

“The Committee is in the process of compiling the feedback into one document which will be independently verified before being shared further," said Deputy Dudley-Owen.

"Out of courtesy this will be shared with the staff who attended the sessions before wider circulation."

Since the engagement notes were leaked, it has emerged that Deputy Andy Cameron - who says he cannot support his committee's proposed model - sent those documents to 14 other States Deputies.

This has been raised at a meeting of the States' Assembly & Constitution Committee, whose president Carl Meerveld will be writing a letter to ESC asking whether the full committee signed off the distribution of these documents by Deputy Cameron. 

Deputy Meerveld told his committee yesterday that a potential violation of Section 20(a) of the States' Members Code of Conduct "has been raised with me as Sacc is the committee responsible for overseeing the Rules of Procedure for the States."

"I think it is beholden for us to uphold the integrity of the rules to raise the matter confirm with the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture whether or not permission was granted for the information to be shared by Deputy Cameron."

"What we cannot do is turn a blind eye to it."

A request for information from ESC about whether permission was given to Deputy Cameron to distribute the documents was submitted late yesterday afternoon following the Sacc meeting. Express is currently awaiting a reply. 

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