Deputy Matt Fallaize has said transport challenges with the new two school model "are surmountable", while addressing a letter from 88 members of staff at St Sampson's High which heavily criticised his committee's plans.
His statement took the time to assure the staff they were free to express their views in any way they wanted, but also challenged some of the misinformation he said the letter contained.
The letter itself outlined a number of areas of concern that school staff had, and also called out Education for not listening to their points of view, and not properly consulting with them.
Deputy Fallaize started his statement by assuring staff they were "free to express their views directly or through unions". "My Committee has never once discouraged anyone working in a school from expressing their views as they see fit.
"We acknowledge the concerns which exist around transport. The challenges are surmountable with modest changes in travel choices and some infrastructure improvements. We have to base our education system around what is best educationally for students, but we also have work ahead to assure our community that the transport arrangements will be satisfactory.
Improving opportunity and excellence is the main driver for change. There is significant fluctuation in results across the Bailiwick which are above the national average but below statistical neighbours. We believe the Bailiwick should strive for better than the national average. pic.twitter.com/NDmeW717TW— Lisia School (@LisiaSchool) January 21, 2020
"We understand that staff in schools are anxious about their own futures. Every teacher has been assured there will be a teaching role for them in the new structure, but of course they want to know more detail and our officers, school leaders and union colleagues are trying to provide it as soon as possible. We anticipate that there will shortly be a period of consultation with staff on the proposed future staff structure. The sooner we can get that agreed and start making further appointments the better."
Pictured: Today the Castel Douzaine published their concerns about how Beaucamps would feasible accommodate so many more students without giving up some of its amenities.
He then went on to point out some claims in the letter which he said needed correcting: "By any objective measure, the new Victor Hugo College will have more space and better facilities than taxpayers would be expected to fund in many other jurisdictions where educational outcomes are at least as good as ours. The school and the site will be large enough for the number of students, the circulation space is being enhanced and the sports facilities will be of a very high standard and the envy of many schools of the same size or larger. There are many non-selective schools succeeding with less space, narrower corridors and worse sport facilities than we are developing at Victor Hugo College without the anarchy which opponents of these reforms would have you believe is coming.
"The claims about problems with student absence, dropouts and discipline is highly misleading. They are based on studies of schools significantly larger than the two colleges we are introducing. Of the leading 200 non-selective schools nationally, 80% of them are 11-18 schools and the average size of these schools is 1,350 students. These are schools with low levels of absence, good discipline and above all great leadership."
Pictured: ESC and its senior leadership team have been trying to engage with the public at drop-in events, where people are free to ask them questions.
Finally, Deputy Fallaize said that he was never expecting for these plans to go unopposed, as large scale change never was, but he said the model they were working towards was "much better than any other way of organising non-selective secondary education", hence why every other model was rejected by the States.
"Of course managing change on a large scale is hugely challenging. The States as an organisation is not used to change on this scale. There were always going to be periods of unease and opposition along the way. We have never said that these reforms are perfect, but they are much better than any other way of organising non-selective secondary education. This is why every other model put forward previously has been rejected. We note that our critics who say they are putting together a requete which in effect would scrap the current reforms have not yet committed to an alternative solution. I hope they will soon, so that people can assess the advantages of and disadvantages of their model compared to the reforms now under way. It would be irresponsible to stop the current reforms with no idea about what to do instead.
"The requete will be another opportunity to demonstrate again the benefits of 11-18 education, which we can deliver only in two colleges if as a community we want all students to have the same opportunities and resources and access to high quality facilities."
Pictured top: ESC President Matt Fallaize.
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