Education 'disappointed' as GCSE results slip

EDUCATION is investigating after some GCSE results were below expectations.

EDUCATION is investigating after some GCSE results were below expectations.

This year 59.3% of students achieved the ‘gold-standard’ of five or more GCSEs or level two equivalent including English and maths at grade C or above, a fall on last year’s result but still up on 2010 and 2011.

Minister Robert Sillars congratulated all students who had worked hard to achieve their grades.

‘We are disappointed that our results are below what we expected in certain areas and will be thoroughly analysing the reasons for this on an individual student level, class by class, subject by subject and school by school,’ said Deputy Sillars.

‘It is interesting to note some of the messages coming out from schools in England who appear to be experiencing the same sort of grade turbulence because of recent changes to the exam system. We are looking closely at this but our focus today is on ensuring our young people have the qualifications they need to move on to the next stage of their education, training or employment.’

Full details and the students' stories will appear in tomorrow’s Guernsey Press.

Comments for: "Education 'disappointed' as GCSE results slip"


Surely this shouldn't have come as a surprise? The exams got very much easier, the pass rates went up. Now they've made them a bit more difficult the pass rates go down. Only mystery is that whilst pass rates went up the teachers took the credit, now they go down they have gone a bit quiet. Oh I forgot, they are all busy marking homework and preparing lessons during their 6 WEEK SUMMER HOLIDAY.


"now they go down they have gone a bit quiet"

The results have only been out 3 hours give them a chance!


What doesn't help is schools like the Grammar fast-tracking students into taking Maths and Science GCSEs in Year 10 instead of Year 11.

What is the point of a gifted student getting an A, B or even C at GCSE when if they had longer to prepare and understand things a bit more (i.e. at the end of Year 11) they would be getting A*s and As?

I noticed that the private Colleges do not push students through early in this way. Enough said.


Same with Les Beaucamps. It appears to be a method of ensuring the vast majority of students will 'pass' Maths and English with a C grade by the end of year 11. There's an opportunity for Year 10 learners who do not achieve a C to 'upgrade' in their final year. No interest in pushing the student who have already passed to achieve the highest grade possible, it's about attempting to avoid any more embarrassing headlines.

Gary Lambert

The programme at Les Beaucamps is not about ensuring everyone gets a "C", nor is it about anything connected to league tables and results. The school are trying to ensure that students have every opportunity to get the grades they are capable of, sometimes that may be in Year 10 and sometimes in Year 11.

But thanks for the ill-informed, condescending comment!


Thanks for your patronising comment and it's not about 'trying to ensure that students have every opportunity to get the grades they are capable of', it's about ridiculous league tables and you know it.

Neil Forman


Why not?

My daughter took sciences this year and got an A*. A & B.

I am dead chuffed.

Island Wide Voting

‘We are disappointed that our results are below what we expected in certain areas and will be thoroughly analysing the reasons for this on an individual student level, class by class, subject by subject and school by school,’ said Deputy Sillars.

Well you certainly have the staff for it

Neil Forman




Yes they have Mulkerrin on the board now. Is that staff? He can do the investigation as he clearly got it wrong last time.

The reasons for the disappointment are so obvious, as I have been saying for two years.

Mr Llloyd

I fond this comment odd.

Reason being is I am assuming you are talking about the same Mulkerrin that you have quoted as gospel over the last couple of years. Practically every thread has been your comments along the lines of "we should be doing this because Mulkerrin said so"

Now you are disagreeing with him, so is he right or wrong. Or does it depend on the result which way you fly your flag??


Mr Lloyd

No I don't know where you got that idea.

The only bits of Mulkerrin's review which I agreed with are the things that haven't been done!

I agreed with Mulkerrin's criticisms of 11+ and I agreed with his recommendation that the "remedial action undertaken by the Education Department has been comprehensive and should be continued." i.e. special measures for La Mare which have now stopped.

The thousands of man hours which have been spent by the education department trying to implement the rest of the pointless and impossible recommendations has clearly not helped and has possibly been detrimental.

Mr Lloyd


I got the idea from you quoting him on every single education thread on these boards, you are even quoting him on the other active thread, the one about la mares buildings yet on this thread, he's 'clearly got it wrong'

So in a nutshell you'll hide behind his name when it suits your argument, as in 'if mulkerrin said so it mst be right', and then on the other hand you say he's wrong.


Mr Lloyd

My understanding is that Mulkerrin is a distinguished gentleman who made a reputation for himself for turning around a struggling school in the UK as headmaster. The school was a comprehensive school catering for all abilities much like Elizabeth College and Ladies college here in Guernsey.

Due to his success he was appointed on occasion to advise the UK government on matters of policy.

He was not in my opinion qualified to review and advise on Guernsey's education provision.

In his assessment of what was wrong with education in Guernsey he rarely made evidence based comments. One exception was when he referred to the huge body of evidence which refutes the argument that high achievers would be reduced to the level of the low achievers if mixed together in a comprehensive school.

Despite this one evidence based conclusion he did not make a formal recommendation to our government to scrap the 11+. He merely referred to it as the "elephant in the room".

The recommendations which he did make merely amount to rearranging the scatter cushions around the elephant. Consequently the recommendations have had no effect on improving the education provision in Guernsey.

I hope that clarifies for you how I feel about Mulkerrin.

Mr Lloyd

Thanks for the clarification, a simple 'yes' would have sufficed!


What I dont understand is why the Grammar School doesnt get 100% pass rate bearing in mind that they are able to select the 'elite' students? Surely that conundrum should be thrown into the mix with all the other queries around this year's performance. I welcome the transparency of publishing the results and Deputy Sillars' proposal to analyse the situation in detail.


That's because there are some student at the Grammar School that are equally as uninterested in their studies and idle as some of those from the Secondary Moderns. To my knowledge, some of the students that barely pass the 11 Plus or have achieved results just below number of marks needed to pass have their school work examined to establish whether they would be suited to the 'Grammar School learning environment' after all.

Not unnaturally, some of those students are probably be part of the minority that prevent the Grammar School from achieving a 100% pass rate.


It would be interesting to do a correlation and see if your assumption is correct. We need more of this sort of analysis to see how good the selective system is in predicting the high achievers in anticipation of the debate next year. Personally I think the colleges will enjoy a bumper intake in Sept 2014.......


Yes, it would. Additionally, as a student currently attending the Sixth Form Centre, I have the opportunity to search for evidence to support my theory- and I have managed to obtain some information.

The Education Department ought to conduct an investigation to ascertain the relative accuracy of my theory...


Agree Felixstowe.

In addition, there's a whole basketful of reasons why a previously high performing student would go downhill- for example, a negative change in the home environment (divorce etc), roller coaster hormones..., illness, death in the family, too many distractions caused by social media and obsessive commenting on the GP... ;) Seriously though, the list is enormous so i would welcome a careful analysis of any inconsistencies so that any decisions made will at least be evidence based.

Neil Forman


Yes this would help before the debate.


Ed - if their school work is assessed to determine their suitability then it's probably no these students who subsequently struggle. It's more likely to be a case of some children being intensively coached to pass the tests, which masks their actual academic ability level. This will quickly become obvious once they are permanently immersed in work at the higher level and yes, may well lead to lower pass rates than might otherwise be expected.

Borderline student...

One of the borderline students from the Grammar School achieved 3A's, 6B's and a C - so I don't think the borderline students are the ones pulling the Grammar School average down - do you?

As others have said, the ones pulling the grades down are across all schools the ones that are totally disinterested in their studies. Too busy playing X Box (boys) or too busy putting too much make up on and being too grown up before their time (girls).

The parents are too blame if they allow their children to become distracted from their studies and allow them to spend all their time on x-box, facebook, twitter etc.

Yes - ocassionally there will be a poor teacher thrown into the mix - but back in my day when we had a bad teacher we all knew it and often worked hard to ensure that despite their failings - we didn't!


When you make cuts in essential services this is what happens. We seen the effect at Health where we've seen wards close and operations cancelled.

Now this is the end result at Education. I've said many times before that Education should not be classed as a cost. I'm not saying they should have an endless fountain of money but cutting 7 million pound away from this dept alone has produced an obvious result.Speak to any Secondary teacher and i reckon you will get the same answer.

Hands tied

Every department must operate on smaller budgets, whether we like it or not.

The tax revenue is not there to support spending levels of before.

It is all about intelligent spending and cost cutting. Costs can be cut in a sensible way or in a damaging way, in education just as in any department or business.

If Education is constrained to operate too many schools (because the elected deputies over the years have collectively refused to allow consolidation) then in a tightening fiscal environment the Education Board is pushed into making decisions that are sub-optimal if not desperate to operate within a smaller budget.

It may be too early for this unfortunate situation to have played out in the GCSE results, but it may well be the shape of things to come if the deputies as a whole persist in keeping too many schools and tie Education's hands into a downward trajectory.

Money spent on excessive school (place) capacity will inevitably be taken directly from things that will improve our children's education.

A system of government like we have works well when lubricated with oodles of spare public money. The poor decisions can be masked by the spare money thrown at fixing them.

Those days are gone (for now) and so the deputies of today have to actually make tough decisions well.

Deputies as a collective need to step up to the plate and make the jump to joined up wise statesman-like decision making for the island as a whole and focus on the issues that really matter (rather than inconsequential internal-facing side shows)

The future will not be as forgiving as the past to poor decision-making.

Time to raise the game.


I agree this is as much about a broken infrastructure as it is the reduction in resources. The aim for the minimum standard worked last year but not this. The only loser is the pupil and sadly they are probably the most disadvantaged....

Island Wide Voting

Exactly X 2

Matt Fallaize

Hands tied,

I agree with your analysis but not your conclusions.

Of course some schools need to be closed. In the primary sector there are many hundreds of surplus places. The decisions in 2009 not to close two primary schools were among the worst, if not the worst, of the last States. I would be amazed if Education does not put very similar proposals before this States.

However, your associating all this with our system of government is odd. The other two Crown Dependencies - with their ministerial systems - spend much more than our States. And the unwise decisions in 2009 not to close primary schools was led not by a rebellion from members like me in the cheap seats, but from the top bench - the very people who in a different system of government would be in control of policy totally. The Chief Minister voted against closing St Sampson's and the Treasury Minister voted to keep St Andrew's open.

A voter


Maybe you are right in that an executive style government could have made an equally poor decision (the legacy with which we all now have to suffer).

It is not just the system I suppose, but the system that deputies are operating in must affect their behaviours. This extends also to the system of elections.

A system that results in deputies potentially being lobbied by a vocal minority and there being no party discipline, collective manifesto nor strong leadership is at high risk of being unable to deal with the tough issues of day - the ones that might really matter for the economy and long-term well being of the island.

Decisions taken in the past few years and in the near future will shape the medium to long-term. We really need to get these right.

Many are cross-cutting - e.g. mistakes in education policy / operational delivery will have far reaching effects including on our economy: so Education are also making economic decisions (indirectly).

That can be a problem in committee based government as each board rows in a different direction (often without realising it) on the really important cross-cutting issues.

It is as much about the system of government as the attributes and behaviours of those working in it.

More of the relevant skills, experience and some statesmanship could help to compensate if not overcome the inherent problems in any system of government.

Recent history might suggest that the States has not been overburdened by such compensating features judged by some of the (poor) decisions it has (or has failed) to make and the significant lack of joined-up policy and operational decision-making.

The world we operate in is not divided into 9 separate and independently operating functional areas and so we need to raise our game somehow to be effective (survive?) in the real complex and hostile world of today, in my view.

We do not have the luxury anymore to have such unpredictable, chaotic even self-undermining, dysfunctional decision-making.

Just think what could be done today with the millions of pounds that successive States have spent on not going anywhere on final waste disposal over the past decade or so. (Only now is there a sign of concrete progress.) What a waste of the people's money that is so sorely needed for other things.

We need the right system AND people with the right skills and experience operating it.


A compelling reason for protecting the excellence of the Colleges and Grammar School.

There's not a chance of changing the selection system until Education can restore confidence in the standard of teaching at the high schools.

The legacy of the Derek Neale era lives on.


And of course in the mean time the social division in Guernsey gets wider... I would be very interested to see the social profile of students attending the colleges and the grammar..I have a hunch that this could be heavily biased towards those from more affluent homes...BUT I may be very wrong and would be pleased to be shown the evidence to alter my view....

Borderline student...

Heavily biased towards affluent homes...

Well there are always candidates who will buck that trend and for that reason the 11+ should definitely stay firmly put.

Without the 11+ I would not have achieved 10 GCSE's, 4 A Levels and a 2.1 at University - and I do know others in the same situation. My family would have been too poor to send me to Ladies College and therefore if I had gone to a secondary school I don't think I would have ended up on the same path at all.

Guernsey's social problems are not any different from any prevalent in the UK or further afield - we just feel them more because we are all living so cheek-by-jowl with each other.

Felix - what would you suggest we do? All move to the lowest common denominator in terms of social profile to make it fair for everyone?

Sadly the trend of churning out generations of kids who couldn't give a t*ss will continue ad infinitum until someone puts the brakes on the benefit system and encourages those in work to have children and bring them up right.

I see that family allowance may get the chop under the new Tax consultation - well that will certainly help those in work who need to struggle to afford a child - won't it?


I dont disagree in the slightest with what you are saying. I welcome systems which support social mobility, but my argument is the current selective system probably only achieves this to a very limited extent. I MAY be wrong but it seems to be biased in favour of the affluent and indeed without a means tested scholarship process, the special places are awarded to children from very wealthy families as well as those who would struggle to pay. I am in favour of high standards and want to see an education system which brings out the full potential in every child, where a C wont do if they can achieve more. You say that you wouldnt have achieved those qualifications if you hadnt been selected at 11, then my response to you is just think how fantastically hard those students at the high schools have worked to gain an A or A*. they havent had the same intensive coaching to 'get through' as the students at the grammar and colleges. I note one lass from Beaucamp has gone on to achieve the grades to do medicine, in my mind a phenomenal achievement on her part and the real star in the pack. I just hope that the debate next year about the future of the 11+ is sensible, informed and has the interests of the young people at heart.


I'm confused by your statement "Without the 11+ I would not have achieved 10 GCSE’s, 4 A Levels and a 2.1 at University"

Many pupils at high school achieve better GCSE result than you did, then go on to be successful at A-level and on a degree course.

Surely you and your work ethic are the reason for your success not the fact that you did the 11+ and went to the Grammar School.

The high schools all operate similar ability classes so you would have been a top set student and could well have achieved better results.


The 11+ is broken.

I was also a borderline student, but I was sent to St Sampsons rather than being accepted to the Grammar School. My parents were also too poor to send me to college.

I went on to complete my A levels, acheive a 1st at University and complete a professional qualification.

The 11+ only serves to hold back children with potential, in poor families that cannot afford the high fees.

I don't think 11 is a good age to decided if a Child has potential or not, my class mates seemed to think they had all failed straight out of the gate at St Sampsons...



I'm not going to get dragged into yet another 11+ debate on these pages, suffice it to say that I hope the future of our education system will be decided on more than personal I'm pretty sure both camps could trawl out loads of stories that "prove" their case.

Speaking of which, if you want the 11+ scrapped I wouldn't use your experience as evidence that "the 11+ only serves to hold back children with potential" when you ended up with A Levels and a 1st class Degree after being educated at St Sampsons!

Island Wide Voting

Anyone still want to see the UK system replace our 11+ Grammar school and Colleges?

It certainly hasn't worked in the Geography class


Entering pupils multiple times happens here on Guernsey as well you know! Up to four times for some subjects!

Nothing to with "11+ Grammar...." as you seem to think

Island Wide Voting

God... No wonder why employers haven't got a hope in hell in choosing the right applicants for jobs

Medium G

I doubt that the cost cutting caused any dip in GCSE performance. That was just down to the students, and the tougher standards in the exams. Personally, I wish that the examiners stuck to a fixed number of students getting A*, A, B etc, as it would make the whole system so much less prone to manipulation. It's how it used to be done!


Yes as it was in our day! I was explaining to my daughter about the difference between the norm referenced system which was in place when I did my O and A levels and how that differs from the criterion referenced system which is in place now. Of course the main issue with the former is you hope as a student that your peers arent too clever as one year you may scrape an A and the next be awarded a B! I guess every system has its draw backs... BUT I would like the guarantee that a C for English and maths GCSE means that the individual can write coherently and perform basic maths....and more importantly students are encouraged to aim for top grades and not just think a C will do when they have the potential to do more.


The Grammar results reflect the intake they are getting. Parents are paying a lot of money for tutors to get their children through the 11+ but when they get there they find that they are a very small fish in a very bit pond. Most children could pass an 11+ paper if they spent 1 hour a week for sometimes 2/3 years doing them. It is the workload that comes after when they start their new school when the problems start.

Guernsey Bloke

Surely the grade a students gets should be determined by their percentile mark in the cohort of students that took the subject on a national scale. This would solve the "exams are getting easier" problem. League tables would be made up of figures determined by the demographic of the country, not arbitrary grades decided upon by exam boards.

Miss M

I am utterly dismayed but not surprised by the results. Sadly I believe the situation is much bigger than education.

There seem to be a large number of young people suffering from mental illness and social, emotional, behavioural difficulties within our society. Many of these youngsters currently do not receive the support they need and so cannot go on to achieve their potential. Cuts in services clearly do have an impact as only the most high profile children can be helped and those in the middle and lower strands of need are left in the abyss.

Teachers and children are under huge amounts of pressure as one change after another are imposed upon them, all with the intention of sticking plasters over a system that clearly no longer works or is relevant to contemporary society. A model of education that was designed to fulfill needs arising from the Industrial Revolution has no place in the 21st Century.

Some definitive decisions need to be made along with appropriate investment and comprehensive professional development for teachers. Education is no longer enjoyable for anyone, we should not be hearing about 'disinterest' and 'lack of motivation'. We should be hearing about well-rounded, emotionally literate and resilient young people who aspire to greatness and will take the Island steering wheel both now and in the future.

I am a homeschooling mum.


Very good post there, Miss M.


Nicely put, I am particularly in line with the your point on developing well-rounded, emotionally literate and resilient young people. Emotional intelligence doesnt always come with academic intelligence, but the latter is held in higher regard, when in fact it is the former that will get you through life.


I agree this is an excellent post.

Mainland Teacher

Live and teach in UK, from Guernsey, married to Englishman.

The actual average in the UK was 68%. It seems in Guernsey that a figure of 40% is used - I am not sure why, it is the national averages that are important. The school I teach in is much more deprived than any in Guernsey and still managed higher grades. It looks to my semi-expert eye that there is no intervention being done to ensure that these children pass their exams and get the skills required for their future lives. Perhaps the head teachers need to spend time in the UK to see how intervention is done?

English and Maths have seen a small percentage change this year in grades achieved, and the slip in top grades is A/A*. Science dropped by 7%. - what was a B last year just scraped a C this year.

Island Wide Voting

I suppose there are different methods of intervention or whatever you like to call it ...

ways to


I am also an ex-Guern teaching in the UK. I think the 40% comes from the floor level target. There seems to be a misunderstanding that this is an acceptable or expected level. It isn't. It's the level that stops your school being closed down. Only 40% of children achieving 5 A*-Cs including English and Maths is likely to end up with the school in special measures.

The UK system isn't as 'comprehensive' as people on this forum seem to think. Parental choice means that there are huge differences in the cohorts of different schools. My local comp is truly comprehensive, mainly due to its isolated geography. In other areas where there is more of a choice of secondaries the more involved parents are falling over themselves to get into certain schools and avoid other schools. This creates schools with vastly different pupil profiles.


But your school does not have the upper ability creamed off and sent to the grammar school. Deprived or not, your students are not told at age 11 that they have failed.



But WHO tells them at age 11 that they have "failed"? Its the parents themselves, not the system.


However I would argue that there is a marked difference in the learning experience between those who are selected and those who aren't. My observations have noticed differences in uniform (I am so glad this has been addressed) curricula opportunities, the amount of homework given to the students, the opportunities to undertake school exams every school year in preparation for GCSEs, and the likelihood that the school will enter a music group in the eisteddfod! I could go on. I guess it is hard to not feel that you haven't made the grade when there is such a Chasm between the two camps.

Neil Forman


Totally agree with you there! I supposedly ' failed ' ( I detest that word ) after being told I would walk the 11+ but it did not hold me back. I stayed on at school until I was offered an apprenticeship in a trade I wanted. A trade I am regarded as being at the top of.


I agree with you regarding the uniforms.

My observations are that the high schools / education don't care about the high schools. Pass St Sampsons high before classes start and see how many pupils are smoking outside the school gates, in plain sight. Educations response is that it is not in school grounds and has nothing to do with them???

Whilst this ' don't give a sh1t attitude exists and pupils can do what they want, discipline goes out of he window.

Totally wrong



I think you miss the point that Education have no authority over children's behaviour outside of school. What do you expect them to do?



I can assure you that when I was at Boys Grammar, and with my peers at Elizabeth College, the situation was that if you were wearing the school uniform and misbehaving, including when walking through town or waiting to catch a bus, and this included smoking, you would be reported for letting the school down in public, and would either get detention or "squad".

We were made very much aware that we were ambassadors for the school when in public, so we knew where the lines were drawn when we were either at school, or wearing school uniform in public.

All perfectly reasonable.

Neil Forman


As GM says, they are wearing the uniform. Doesn't look good driving past school gates and seeing a crowd of school kids smoking. This just shows the level of care Education have. Shocking. We would not have got away with that at LMDC when I attended.

One teacher caught me smoking near the Capelles youth club in my school years and stopped to make sure I stubbed it out, then again they cared in them days.

Mainland Teacher

Fairydust - I don't teach in the grammar system now but did a few years ago and totally agree with you - however a lot of work was done to reverse the trend with local secondary high schools becoming specialist ones in PE, Arts, Tech etc. that meant that some grammar level candidates wanted to go to the other schools.

Also my school does have the best creamed off by - parental choice - the majority of parents choose to send their children to the school at the other side of town that has a 'better' catchment area - although as we have had higher exam results for the last two years they are coming back!

Island Wide Voting it is not cheating in any form. It is intervention - identifying struggling pupils, giving them extra lessons in literacy, boosting their standards, improving their confidence, giving exam techniques etc. intervention is not about multiple exam entries and redoing controlled assessments. Schools are given extra money to identify and mentor these children.


It's a shame the predicted grades of students are not published so a comparison can be made between students' ability and achievement (value added shows how much they've overachieved in relation to their Yellis scores, a system widely used to determine a student's ability).

I think the public would be amazed by how low the actual ability of high school students is ( not all but a majority) and how many meet or do better than Yellis say they should.

Miss M

It would be a terrible situation if the opposite were true...

Matt Fallaize


I couldn't agree more. It would also provide for a more informed comparison between schools and between academic years. I will write to Education to encourage publication in future years.


My question would be how valid and reliable is Yellis, I assume it has been rigorously tested through systematic processes?


As reliable as it can be. It is the standard testing used across the UK.


It's used in some schools. I don't think it's standard. Also its taken in year 9/10 isn't it? That's probably a bit late if you want to work out whether the problem lies with the secondary school. I would have though MidYIS or FFT data would be better.



Midyis is done at the start of y7, Yellis at the start of y10. A school usually opts for both rather than either or. Both are provided by CEM.


Every teacher employed by education (apart from the headteacher I believe) is employed centrally. This, includes the Grammar school. Education have it within their control theoretically to move teachers' from one school to another. In addressing the needs of the high schools' it would seem a potential idea to second teachers' from higher performing schools to mentor/develop colleagues elsewhere.

If the proposed early retirement proposals are enacted, there will be a potential recruitment need across the Island. This could be a time to look at these proposals? Previously the high schools have had UK 'experts' employed, although some of these, this year, have had questionable impact.

Maths and English are the subjects that have been given priority in the results/league tables, so they should be the subjects that have the most focus throughout, not just in the last ear when it is too late. Input needs to be in primary school. No child should leave primary school with less than a level 4, yet this is happening at a huge rate. 4B is the minimum required (at the end of year 6 to achieve a C grade at GCSE. Publish these results. Eucation collects them now and has them readily available.


Yes. I think that might be a big part of the problem. If fairydust is saying that the majority (i.e. over half) of high school students are coming in with very low ability, that would suggest a large percentage of children leaving primary with level 3 or below.

That being said, a number of the comps in my nearest city do have intakes with a 50/50 split of level 3/level 4 on entrance. But that's more indicative of parental choice as the children come from a variety of schools many of whom also send plenty of children to the more popular schools with a 50/50 level 4/level 5 split.


Now that it would appear the professionals or at least folks who have done the required homework (pardon the pun) have got involved, the posts from GM, IWV, Neil Forman have dried up.


Island Wide Voting


That could be down to the fact that at the moment there are already 276 live posts on the different threads on this subject.Add the 400? or so at this time last year and it all becomes very entrenched and repetitive

My view is that if it ain't broke don't fix it but that is of course in direct conflict with those who say it is definitely broken,and when the 'experts' start rattling off terms such as Yellis,Midyis,FFT and Primary level 4 etc it is an opportune time for me to take a back seat and watch and worry that such a well tried and tested system is in grave danger of being abandoned purely in the name of modernism



Not "dried up" at all. Just digesting some of the new terminology and wondering what possible difference it will make to the argument that dismantling the colleges and Grammar and risking the continuation of their excellent results, year on year, is a risk not worth taking.

Cutting through all the new terminology, two fundamentals remain unaddressed.

1. How do we recruit and retain high quality and highly-motivated teachers within our housing law restrictions?

2. How do we deal with the massive disruptive behaviour challenge, so that those eager to learn are not disrupted?

Until we sort these two problems, our children will have poor quality teachers, with classes heavily disrupted by unruly children who nobody can deal with to effectively remove them, and whatever else put in around it, whether in portakabins or in gold plated schools, is academic (pardon the pun).

A voter

An observation regarding your question 1 and the link to another topical debate - public sector pensions.

What will certainly make it even harder to keep locally grown teachers in Guernsey and the ones we need to attract and retain from the UK too is the much trailed proposed public sector pay cut coming down the track by means of the pension changes that Alistair Langlois wishes to impose on all current public sector workers overnight.

Disregarding the fact that this proposal appears to contravene legal advice published in the Billet in (I think) 2006/7 when there was a reform of the public sector pensions because it would amount to change of employment contract terms without consent, I would highlight this one obvious consequence:

The pension change will make a current problem much worse - Guernsey will find it harder to attract / keep good teachers because they will be so much better off in the UK:

Better total compensation (salary + pensions), much better career progression prospects, better schools (to teach in and for their kids), cheaper housing costs, no '5 year licence and out', lower cost of living.

The proposed pay-cut (by means of pension changes) could be the nail in the coffin.

The savings effected by the pension cuts could be dwarfed by the adverse long-term economic impact it causes all around the economy (not just in teaching).

So although in austere times when it feel right to bash the public sector (a) this is not without risk to the whole economy and (b) everything is cyclical: the teachers weren't getting the whopping finance sector bonuses in the good years. Life of a public sector worker is more a steady fair income rather than the highs and lows of private sector remuneration.

When the private sector is booming again I doubt that anyone will be proposing big bonuses for teachers!


A voter

Very valid points, but compared with an enormous pension scheme deficit which will bankrupt Guernsey if not addressed, it would simply be cheaper to pay teachers a bit more in the form of salary to compensate.

Re your list of perceived disadvantages:

1. Better compensation (salary plus pay) - What about net after-tax take-home pay? Higher in Guernsey, but housing costs and other cost of living elements are higher here (unless the teacher is coming from London or the South East). Probaly around neutral overall.

2. Much better career progession prospects - not if the housing licence problem is addressed.

3. Better schools to teach in (and for their own kids) - not sure about that. The actual school buildings here are as good as most areas in the UK, mostly shiny and new. Would they want to send their kids to the high schools here? Not at the moment. That might be a challenge. Ideally we would recruit teachers with no children or with very young children, so that can be mitigated.

4. Cheaper housing costs - again it depends on where exactly they are coming from. Apart from London, it is likely that we would lose on that one.

5. No "5-year licence and out" - agreed, but that is within the power of the States to deal with.

6. Lower cost of living - see 1 above.

But what about the other advantages? A great place to live, minimal crime, safe schools (no stabbings etc), minimal commuting time, i.e. all the factors which make many licenceholders so desperate to stay here at the end of their licence period.

Neil Forman


Still here!

At the moment I am dealing with family problems and only post during the night as I work during the day, I don't sit down till late at night at the moment so post when I can.

You are entitled to your opinion as am I, GM & IVW. Personally I think GM & IVW are right. It is the high schools that are broken and I don't see the logic in breaking the bit that works which nobody could say WILL work with 100% certainty. I don't think we should be playing suck it and see with our children's education. If we ruin the good bit we lose another Education Board, we move senior civil servants sideways and ruin children's lives. They are the only ones that will suffer and it will be too late to say " I told you so ".



I would suggest that Pontoon is an example of someone succeeding in spite of the system not because of it.


That may well be true Kevin, I don't know either way. My point was that people on both sides can pull out individual examples that "prove" their point. Pontoons story for example could be used to both support and oppose the 11+ system, when by itself it actually doesn't prove anything except that Pontoon is clearly a very intelligent, motivated and capable individual.

I'm not against changes if they can (a) be proven to be in the best interests of all and (b) allow every child the opportunity to fulfil their potential, academically or vocationally. For many of us this isn't a paper debate, it will have a real impact on our children and as someone that has no expert knowledge on educational matters I want the comfort of knowing they have been rigorously scrutinised first.