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LETTER: "Current plans will lessen the quality of education"

LETTER:

Friday 09 July 2021

LETTER: "Current plans will lessen the quality of education"


Grammar School teachers have penned a letter to States Deputies explaining why they cannot support Education, Sport & Culture's plans.

"We write to you as a staff to express our concerns regarding ESC’s proposed reorganisation of secondary and post-16 education. 84% of our teaching staff oppose ESC’s plan. Only 7.6% of staff support ESC’s plan (staff survey results below).

In addition, the overwhelming majority of staff surveyed (92%) endorse the option of three 11-16 schools with a co-located Sixth Form Centre. Our view is that the Sixth Form Centre should remain at Les Varendes and this solution offers the most pragmatic, cost-effective and optimum solution for Guernsey both now and in the future. 

The staff here are not opposed to change; in fact the school has a history of successfully embracing it. Nor do we wish to revisit the discussion around the Eleven Plus.   We welcome the States’ commitment to investing in the transformation of secondary and post-16 education.  What we do not welcome are the current plans which we believe will lessen the quality of education across the whole secondary sector.

Firstly, we would like to echo and endorse the points raised in the email to you all by our colleagues at Les Beaucamps High School:

  1. A lack of focus on 11-16 provision

  2. Changes to space standards in secondary school buildings (as previously raised with the two school model)

  3. Alterations to class tipping points and its impact on students with SEND

  4. Staffing the Sixth Form (more details below)

  5. Narrowing of the curriculum

  6. The mixed messages regarding the reallocation of staff

  7. Concerns about the role of The Secondary Partnership

  8. Logistics regarding the coordination and communication between the Sixth Form Centre, Guernsey Institute and high schools

In addition to these concerns, as the only state providers of Sixth Form education with substantial expertise in this sector, we offer the following concerns in relation to point 4 above and a stand-alone Sixth Form Centre:

The increased need for more staff working part-time on the site would:

  • Create challenges in terms of staff recruitment particularly given the considerable cost of living in Guernsey

  • Present communication difficulties, potentially leading to inconsistencies in standards

  • Provide fewer opportunities for collaboration between subject specialists

Movement of staff from other sites to the proposed Sixth Form Centre would mean:

  • Staff would be far less able to provide academic and pastoral support for students outside of timetabled lessons - these are essential to both academic progress and the mental health and well-being of students.  Electronic communication is not effective in these scenarios

  • Staff would travel from site to site. This time would form part of staff timetables lessening their face-to-face teaching time, leading to increased numbers of non-specialist teachers across all Key Stages at all sites

  • Significant travel costs for staff moving from site to site would increase for the employer - the taxpayer would be funding teachers to drive across the island

  • Communication and coordination between colleagues becomes more difficult as staff would be on different sites during the working day or travelling between them

Having staff solely based at the Sixth Form Centre would:

  • Create smaller staff teams potentially with single teacher departments, lacking collegiate and dynamic team work

  • Lead to reduced opportunities for professional development

  • Increase difficulties in covering staff absences with subject specialists

  • Present recruitment difficulties which would impact on continuity for students, especially for single teacher departments - when one teacher leaves, the whole department would leave

These measures would impact negatively on teaching and learning, reduce educational outcomes and worsen the provision on offer to our young people. ESC’s proposals are deeply flawed.

In relation to apparent ‘synergies’ being offered by having the Sixth Form Centre and The Guernsey Institute (College of FE) on one site, a strong working relationship already exists, as demonstrated by our current joint offer of the IB Careers-related Programme.  In our view, these, and other opportunities for collaboration, can be facilitated without the need for huge capital expenditure in a Sixth Form Centre. 

As a staff, we are committed to working with ESC to make a co-located Sixth Form Centre and 11-16 high school work, with two distinct communities on one campus; maximising both human resources and the physical space.  

We too are eager to reach a conclusion following years of uncertainty. However, this decision will impact future generations and education for decades to come and must be driven by what is best for our young people, rather than simply being ‘a decision of some sort’."

A summary of the results of the staff survey is shown below:

Do you support ESC’s proposals?

grammar_survey_1.png

If you do not support ESC's proposal, which of the following models would you support? You can also write in another option.

rammar_survey_2.png

Having read the letter, please can you indicate your support, or otherwise.

grammar_survey_3.png

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