Friday 23 July 2021
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LETTER: "Teachers are best placed to judge the real impact of changes"

LETTER:

Wednesday 14 July 2021

LETTER: "Teachers are best placed to judge the real impact of changes"


There is clear support among teachers for Deputy Andy Cameron's amendment, and strong opposition to the Education, Sport & Culture Committee's model, writes Les Beaucamps High School teacher Sarah Buck.

"Today in her statement, Deputy Dudley-Owen was quoted saying that: “Teachers are not the right people to design the future model for secondary education” and that our focus is “on the daily delivery of excellence in the classroom.”

It is our duty to ensure a ‘delivery of excellence’, that leads us to have concerns with ESC’s proposed model.  Teachers, in their professional capacity, are best placed to judge the real impact of changes on day-to-day teaching.  Many staff are concerned that a lack of investment in 11-16 will result in poorer standards for our island’s young people.  Many staff feel that this will worsen educational outcomes and have a negative impact on student well-being.

It is surprising to hear Deputy Dudley-Owen dismiss the concerns of teaching staff when she has previously been so clear about the importance of teacher support.  

In her manifesto, found on election2020.gg, Deputy Dudley Owen states: “I firmly believe the optimal outcome is a Guernsey centered model, supported by teachers and the community.” 

It has become unmistakably apparent over the past few weeks that a majority of teachers do not support this model.  

Teachers at LMDC wrote a letter to all deputies rejecting ESC’s proposal making it clear that they: “Wish to support any committee that is committed to improving educational values and outcomes in Guernsey for all stakeholders.”

Teachers at LBHS wrote a letter listing 8 serious concerns with the model.  They offered solutions. One solution was to complete the review thrown out by ESC.  Another was to opt for Amendment One, The Cameron Amendment.  

• 89% of staff responded to the letter. 

• 97% gave their support to the concerns raised and to the suggested solutions, including completing the review.  

• 88% supported Amendment 1.

Teachers at the Grammar School wrote to express their lack of support for ESC’s model.  They also surveyed staff on what they did support.  Of 60 respondents:

• 92% supported 3 x 11-16 schools with a co-located sixth form.  Amendment 1 offers one such model.

Whilst it may be too late to gather percentages, there is clear support for the Cameron amendment amongst teachers.  It is not all teacher's ideological preference, but our pragmatic acknowledgment that we need to move forwards makes this a suitable compromise.

Key to the amendment is the capital saving of £30million which allows for greater investment in ensuring 11-16 environments are suitable.  Furthermore, savings in revenue expenditure could be used to address any inequalities e.g. should the 11-16 stand-alone schools require additional resource to allow for a broad range of subject choices at GCSE.  In summary, it would as a minimum prevent a decline in standards in 11-16 education.

In a letter from NCTLG it is stated that:

“Sadly stakeholder confidence in the current ESC has ebbed away following the publication of its policy letter… Of particular concern, there is to be no investment in 11-16 education.”

In a survey of teachers across the four high schools the following dissatisfaction was expressed:

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We ask, therefore, what exactly has changed? 

Yes, we have had engagement from ESC.  However, it has been clear from early-on in those sessions, that teachers did not feel listened to.  There was no evidence that teacher’s concerns were being addressed, nor was there evidence that our input led to any significant changes being made to their proposed model.

In conclusion, we find ourselves once again in an unfortunate situation.  It was not the intention of teaching staff to prolong this process.  We have always wanted to engage constructively and work with ESC to achieve the best outcomes educationally and in terms of student well-being.  Yet a majority of staff do not support the proposal.

As Gavin St Pier stated: “The proposals are totally undeliverable with the teaching community so opposed.”" 

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