The woman in charge of running Guernsey's high schools has defended St Sampson's High from recent criticism levied at it by parents of pupils due to sit their GCSE exams next term.
Liz Coffey is the Executive Principal of the Secondary Schools Partnership, meaning she oversees the work of St Sampson's, Les Beaucamps, and La Mare de Carteret High Schools as well as the Grammar School/Les Varendes.
Ms Coffey has acknowledged "there are current challenges around securing appropriate teacher coverage of some lessons at St Sampson’s", but she says "I do not share the view that the school is letting students down by trying to effectively manage a situation that is largely outside of its control".
She explained that schools locally and nationally are facing the same challenges with recruiting staff and that this has become more of an issue on-island since the covid pandemic.
Pictured: Liz Coffey, Executive Principal of the Second Schools Partnership.
"Running a school is a complex and often thankless task," she said, "but St Sampson’s under the new senior leadership team brought in to support the Principal, has made significant strides in many areas since the recent Ofsted inspection and we will be providing a detailed update to parents on this in January.
"We always welcome parents contacting the school’s leadership team if they have concerns and I know the Principal shares my commitment to respond to all such contact. If any parent feels that they have not had a response having expressed concerns, I urge them to contact Mrs Godley."
The President of the Committee for Education, Sport, and Culture also encouraged parents to speak to the school's headteacher Mrs Godley if they have any concerns.
Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen said she has "every confidence that Mrs Godley, the Principal, and her leadership team are doing all they can to manage the situation" which has concerned some parents of pupils at St Sampson's High.
Pictured: Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen.
Deputy Dudley-Owen has also acknowledged difficulties around staff vacancies.
She said sensationalising these issues "makes it much harder to actually recruit the very staff who can help to provide the stability the school community wants, as any prospective candidate who would be new to the island naturally looks at online coverage."
Addressing the recently aired concerns raised by Year 11 pupils' parents, Deputy Dudley-Owen encouraged them to speak with the schools' leaders directly.
"I fully understand parental concerns about their child’s schooling and encourage any parents to voice those concerns when they arise so that they can be dealt with quickly. I would encourage them to continue engagement with the school’s senior leadership team to support their child’s learning and it they are not satisfied with the response they receive to such concerns; I would further encourage parents to raise them with the Education Office.
"Recognising the specific concerns of parents of Year 11 students as they race towards their GSCEs, I am very supportive of revision sessions the school offers. Details of these sessions have been shared with parents and carers. I do understandthat any interruption to student’s learning especially at this time is very concerning and can reassure the school community that the Senior leadership team and the Education Office are working hard to overcome these staffing challenges. I encourage parents and their children to take up the support that is available to them."
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