Two teenagers who have been gathering support for a protest against the two-school model of secondary education have arranged to hand over a petition against the decision to Guernsey's President of Education, Sport and Culture.
Deputy Matt Fallaize will meet Matt Bougourd and Ieva Tulie on the steps of Guernsey's States Chamber on Wednesday 21 March to receive the list of signatures.
Both teenagers have already engaged with politicians involved with the ongoing education debate, since a decision was made in January to adopt a two-school model of secondary education with plans for renewing the way further education is delivered.
When the decision was made earlier this year, Ms Tulie launched a petition against the plans. That has now attracted almost 2,000 signatures and the pair say it will be handed over to Deputy Fallaize and hopefully other members of the ESC Committee on the 21 March at 16:15 during the scheduled States meeting for this month. They have invited the media and any members of the public who wish to be there to do so.
They feel other members of the public still feel as strongly as they do against the proposals. 15-year-old Matt said people are still signing the petition and talking against the plans:
"I feel the momentum has not slowed. We have arranged a paper petition, which is already into the hundreds, and have obviously arranged for the petition to be handed over. I feel that the 1400 signatures does not do justice to the public support for the petition as we have had people approach us, who haven't even seen the online petition! So to get to 1400 only among the online community is certainly not a bad achievement."
Matt continued, saying that people are angry against the plans and "rightly so, when we have a government that completely and utterly ignores the opinion of the electorate, and does nothing to settle people's anger.
"We have a Chief Minister, who holds private meetings, and is scared to answer a few questions about party politics! Strong and bold leadership?
"Matt (Deputy Fallaize) has said that he will meet with student bodies, and effectively the student leadership team. However what use is this? You are going to talk to the high achievers on what works, and completely ignore the people who are in need off the extra help?"
Matt said he has tried to engage further with the deputies who are now trying to plan the transition to the new schools system, including making a decision on which school buildings will be used for the two-school model and College of FE sites. However, he said he has come up against some resistance:
"It's interesting that Matt has said he will speak to students, as I have invited him into La Mare (de Carteret High school) on several occasions to be interviewed on our school radio station, and he has merely told me that we will have to wait. In comparison, Deputies Paul Le Pelley and Carl Meerveld met us within the same week.
"We have even had a member of the committee completely decline our request. I would say that whilst I welcome him talking to students, wouldn't these meetings with students would have been more useful before the debate? Before the desicion had been made? According to Matt it is because of timing. I question shouldn't this have been made a priority? Shouldn't this have been the first thing on his mind?"
Miss Tulie said there is still more work to do on the petition before it is handed over:
"I feel momentum has definitely slowed after all the initial outrage. However, I don't think this will be surprising to anyone. We are trying to build up momentum again before the petition is handed in as well as creating paper copies for those who are unable to access it online."
Miss Tulie is pleased with the number of signatures their petition has attracted so far, and she feels this shows there is still significant interest in and opposition to the plans. She also feels more could be done to communicate the decisions made so far with the public:
"I think for such a small island it is a significant figure. It would be nice to get more signs however, to really emphasise the issue at hand.
"There has been a lot said to my knowledge regarding meetings, but I think there is still a lot to be addressed first before the public get dragged into false pretences."
Pictured: Deputy Matt Fallaize
In response Deputy Fallaize has said he will try to meet the students but it will be dependent on the stage of the States debate during next Wednesday's meeting:
“I will certainly do my best to step out of the States’ meeting on Wednesday to accept the petition, although my ability to do so will obviously depend on it not clashing with a vote in the Assembly. There is a diverse range of views on secondary education; the petitioners have every right to express their opinions; and I respect them and their petition. "
Deputy Fallaize added that his ESC Committee is continuing to work on the proposals for a two-school secondary model and will communicate details with the public when necessary. He said the States have committed to making this change and it will happen:
“The Committee has been elected to lead the reforms recently agreed by the States, including the two 11-18 colleges, and we are committed to this work.
“The States have agreed in quite some detail the future structure of secondary and post-16 education. For example, selection at 11 is ending in 2019; the number of schools or colleges is known; there is commitment to devolve more responsibilities to schools and colleges; and there is now much greater certainty in relation to further education."
The ESC President continued, saying that work is ongoing to establish which school sites will be the best ones to utilise in the two school model and for the College of FE:
“We are continuing to assess the existing secondary school sites and as soon as possible we will determine the two optimal sites and the transitional arrangements for students and staff. We will also, as soon as possible, appoint an Executive Head Teacher of the 11-18 colleges and this will be an important step in the development of the new model of education.
“We will shortly be communicating directly with parents, students and then the wider Bailiwick community. We recognise that all stakeholders need to be assured of our determination to meet the significant programme of work which lies ahead of us. We are moving forward at pace but also making decisions objectively, carefully and based on evidence.”