Mulkerrin: did lesson sink in?

WHEN leading educationalist Denis Mulkerrin produced his review of education services in Guernsey shortly before the end of 2011, his headline point was that the most important person in any school was the pupil. The most important asset was the teacher.

WHEN leading educationalist Denis Mulkerrin produced his review of education services in Guernsey shortly before the end of 2011, his headline point was that the most important person in any school was the pupil. The most important asset was the teacher.

Unsurprisingly, his central conclusion was that the single most important way of improving education and exam results was making the way it recruits teachers significantly better.

With this year’s crop of exam results coming in from the island’s secondary schools worse than last year, does this mean Mulkerrin’s mantra is being ignored?

The short answer is it is too early to say.

Education is investigating what lies behind the results and already is speaking about the need for a replacement La Mare de Carteret School, although Mr Mulkerrin also reported that buildings were way down the scale of things that affected pupil performance.

However, while results have varied this year, all the island secondaries did significantly better than in 2011, the year of poor results which triggered the Mulkerrin review.

In the case of La Mare, nearly a quarter of all students achieved at least five GCSEs at grade C or above, including maths and English, a result that was twice as good as that in 2011 under the previous, discredited Education regime.

Were the secondaries ever going to match last year’s results, after all the extra resources that were poured in following the sacking of the previous Education minister?

The point is that there has been an improvement over the disastrous 2011 and the school is back at its historic norms in a year when gradings have tightened and, according to one head teacher, a pupil who got a D this year would have had a B two years ago.

Perhaps the question Education ought to be asking is whether the progress is sufficient in the circumstances and whether the schools have all that they need to put the children at the heart of everything that they do.

One parent went online yesterday to say that the head of La Mare was handling housing licence applications because she has no PA and no one at Education was willing to help.

What islanders really want to know is whether the Mulkerrin lesson has been acted on.

Comments for: "Mulkerrin: did lesson sink in?"


The best way to improve the way we recruit good teachers would be to do away with the discredited 11+ system which seems to deter them from applying for High school positions.

The extra resources were poured into La Mare well before Carole Steere resigned (she wasn't sacked).

The grammar and colleges attract good teachers and enjoy these extra resources all the time and therefore is it any wonder that their performance is more consistent?



Utter rubbish. No sane person would advocate anything which eradicates the top quartile of performance so that everyone becomes "average". Sheer madness.

Surely the starting point is to weed out the poor teachers, and by raising disciplinary standards at the high schools.

Has it occurred to you that teachers are attracted to working at the Grammar and Colleges because 90% of the behavioural issues which affect the high schools aren't a factor, so that they can actually get on with teaching?

The 11-plus has never been more secure than it is right at this moment.

Shiny new schools alone will not produce good results. The Derek Neale legacy rolls on and on.


No no one's advocating that everyone becomes average.

"All the evidence regarding comprehensive schools - and there is a lot of it - shows that the top 25% of students achieve just as well as they would have in a grammar school, but the rest do better than they would have done in a secondary modern" Mulkerrin.

Are you seriously suggesting that Mulkerrin and every other educationalist in the world, professors, academics, teachers are all insane?

Yes weak or incompetent teachers should be weeded out but the problem Mulkerrin identified is a shortage of specialist teachers, there is a lack of applicants and an excessive number of contract staff.

Caroline Bowker has suggested that teachers are suffering from stress due to the challenges they are subjected to, including all the bad publicity and stigma of high schools.

The system is wrong, it's injustice against children.

A voter

Education policies are like fashion.

There are so many views on what is best and things come in and out of vogue.

It is also very political.

I have attended / worked in comprehensives and selective schools and it is simply not correct to state that the most talented children do as well in a comprehensive. They are generally not as stretched and do reach their full potential.

Children of different abilities have different needs and a one-size-fits all is in my view sub-optimal for everyone.

There are many schools of thought and theories in education matters and doubtless Mulkerrin is from one such camp. But it is not the only one.

Motivated talented teachers is key - we should not get so hung up about this pro- / anti- 11+ debate.

Let's fix / improve what we have.

I agree that stressed / undervalued staff is not helpful.

If we do not invest in and value our people delivering vital public services, like teaching, we will all suffer in the long run - we will see a decline in standards and ultimately our economy may be harmed (on which we all rely).

The constant chipping away at teachers (and other public sector workers generally) is not without long-term adverse consequences for us all.

Island Wide Voting

Wasn't the fact that we have some weak and incompetent teachers put down to the fact that at each recruiting phase the army of paper shufflers at the Education Department didn't get their a*se in gear until well after all the best new young teacher graduates had been snaffled by more on the ball departments elsewhere

Do we know if that problem has been dealt with or has the whole focus still been on delivering shiny new 'legacy' multi-million pound buildings?



No I believe that criticism was debunked as a myth. See the education department's responses to Mulkerrin.



I would like to read up more on how resources are allocated to the different schools. Would you be able to direct me to links where I can do that?


Just some general thoughts & wonderings.

I am becoming more in favour of a comprehensive approach as it is important all children do well and are considered important, not just certain groups. Looking at the Finnish model this works. I think the issue of the above average not reaching their full potential can be easily rectified by the teacher providing more tailored work, just as they would for children that need extra support to have them catch up - it can work both ways. That way the teacher can deal with a pupil as a whole person, teach them how to learn too and get the best for them. This however would be helped by smaller classes.

This also requires more investment in the teachers which I think would be worth it. Hopefully it would improve their motivation and give them the tools to teach in the best way possible. Perhaps if we raised their profile, paid them more we would start attracting the best (of course licence issues MUST be tackled too).

I want to hear about the main social/cultural problems they encounter so we can see if further training or services can reduce them. (So any teachers reading please comment). Perhaps even the local charities that wish to help our younger community could be made more use of. If we do nothing I think in the long term the social issues will become more exaggerated. The one thing we have to be thankful for at least is we are a fairly homogeneous bunch in terms of language and our areas of lower incomes are not as bad on the scale in comparison with other jurisdictions. We should be able to turn things around so all kids are getting the best education possible.

I would also like to hear what exactly happens on teacher training days and what kind of things you learn to become to be a teacher. My sum of knowledge is left over from school and knowing it as that fantastic extra day you got off. Could extra workshops be provided to allow teachers to remain updated with the best techniques and approaches or do we all ready do that?

As an aside I have heard that for one of the high schools the build cost could have been reduced fairly substantially. There are boards made up of politicians, civil servants and contractors when new schools are built - it may be worth them asking the contractors on ways they could strip cost out in general and perhaps just re-evaluate if all the latest top of the range mod cons are essential and weigh up the cost to benefit for them (whilst keeping a good standard of course).

Just to slip it in I also think its important that we create a culture in which vocational careers are not looked down on and held in a similar esteem to academic ones. Not everyone is academic and flourish more in schools like the College of FE. Everyone is different so we need to make sure we provide the education most suited to them.

Matt Fallaize


My understanding is that those problems have been made worse recently by SAP, or rather by its flawed implementation by the centre.



There was a cost analysis undertaken a couple of years ago when they debated reducing the college subsidies. So some figures ended up in that Billet. There may also be some information in the Capita analysis which formed the basis of the FTP.

The education annual report does not give a breakdown of funding of the individual schools and in any case I'm not sure how meaningful such numbers would be. For example, if La Mare is struggling to recruit specialist english and maths teachers then their contract teacher costs could be sky high albeit this cost is not a benefit to the students but actually detrimental. Also if teachers are off sick with stress then contract teachers costs will be high but the students suffer from lack of continuity of teacher.

My argument is that the high schools require higher funding than grammar/colleges as those schools do not seem to have these problems. The high schools need funding to compensate for all the shortcomings in the system.



The Colleges don't have the same problems because they are better managed. They fish in the same pool for teachers and are restricted by the same housing laws.

The reality is that they are more efficient at recruiting teachers. They also attract teachers who are attracted by not having to deal with disruptive classroom yobs on a daily basis, and so can actually focus on teaching.



Or perhaps they don't have the same problems because they have more teachers who are paid more and who get to work in a comprehensive rather than a selective intake school which is what teachers like.

And yes I'm sure the college does have a much lower proportion of special needs students or "Yobs" as you call them. That's what happens when you have a comprehensive cohort.



Why do you claim that they get paid more at the Colleges? I am told that this is not the case at all.

The College is full of students who are there either (a) because they obtained the highest levels of mask at 11-plus, or (b) because their parents are making sacrifices to provide them with the best possible education. As a result, they are in a dedicated learning environment.

Discipline is much higher and disruptive students will be removed. And they know it. This preserves the learning environment. And guess what? The College gets good results.

All we have heard about on these threads are poor quality teachers and lack of discipline at the high schools. Those issues MUST be sorted out before there is any chance whatsoever of progress at the high schools.


I'm assuming the colleges have discretion over the teachers salaries whereas those working for the states have to adhere to pay scales. The colleges can therefore be competitive.

The comprehensive environment clearly assists the learning environment at the colleges because the top performers do just as well and the rest do better than they would have done at a high school. The top performers are not reduced to the lowest ability as some fear.

I have no objection to raising the status of teachers and paying them higher salaries and I have no objection to early intervention of any SEB problems, after all this is what they do in Finland's comprehensive system and they don't have these problems.



Why "assume"? Why not check your facts first? The Colleges and the state sector schools all of course need to be competitive.. Are you saying that they are not?

I think you will find that the school environment attracts the best teachers. Those who are dedicated to teaching and don't want to be exposed to the sort of behavioural problems experienced in our high schools have a choice - they choose to apply for jobs in schools where that is less of an issue. Just like the parents of course.



The High schools cannot compete with the colleges on salary nor on cohort, nor on standard of facilities.

The High schools need the means to attract pupils, parents and teachers. Thereafter the 11+ will become obsolete.

At the moment they are struggling to offer even the most basic education standard. The system which supports this for 75% of our children is flawed.



Are you having a laugh? Have you compared the 450 year old Elizabeth College buildings or the Ladies College portakabins with the luxury, gold-plated, Derek Neale-designed, wholly taxpayer-funded facilities at St Sampsons High and Les Beaucamps? Clearly not.

The 11-plus won't disappear for at least the next decade. There is no confidence whatsoever in the high schools to deliver a remotely acceptable level of education and until and unless that has been proven to exist over at least a 5-year period, our politicians would be negligent to even contemplate changing something which would wreck that part of the education system which does actually work.

Why you say the states schools cannot compete on salary is beyond me. It is the process of recruitment which lets Education down, despite having an enormous army of civil servants to handle the process. Inept paper-pushing. That's what taxpayers are paying for.

Redirect some of these employment resources into improving teaching standards and sorting out behavioural issues and we will start to see a difference.



I disagree of course. Some would say it would be negligent not to change a system which is clearly not working.



But for reasons driven by your socialist beliefs, you want to break all the bits which aren't broken at all, and which are performing exceptionally well.



As I have said, I don't believe that changing the structure of our education system would be detrimental to our top 25% performers. However it would be enormously beneficial to the 75% who are not afforded the same privileges.

If that doesn't happen then they need to make radical changes to the High school offering and deliver some of the fantastic and innovative opportunities intimated in the education vision statement and all the funding required to put those ideas in place.

Thereafter demand for the High schools would increase such that the 11+ would become obsolete as few will see the need to sit it. It's about choice and it's about equality of opportunity. Choice must be available to all.

Without one of these options 75% of our school children will continue to be let down and that is a wasted opportunity for investment in Guernsey's future.

Which will it be do you think?



You may not believe that the top 25% would be adversely affected. I think if you put all the like-minded people in a room you could all fit into the Little Chapel with ease.

It would be a massive gamble to take, and one which doesn't need to be taken. All that needs to happen is for the high school pupils to get the quality of education that they ought to be already receiving, one which is built around good quality teaching and non-disrupted classes, whether in gold-plated classrooms or not.



The "gamble" certainly paid off for Finland and look where they are now.

I'd like to see every educationalist in the world fit into the Little Chapel together with 50% of the Guernsey population. Cosy!

At least I wouldn't be squashed up to you!


The is no such thing as stress, there are however stressful situations this is what makes a lot of jobs worth doing for the simple reason they are stimulating. Those that are unable to take the stimulating pressures of the classroom are clearly in the wrong job or are poorly managed, it becomes obvious that management by head teachers, and senior staff, and the education department in Guernsey is extremely poor.

Would love to see an old style Ofsted inspection take place,

Are the staff given proper peer assessment I wonder if done properly it soon shows up the weak links.


Absolutely agree

Neil Forman


No no no.

Mulkerrin stated that it would take outstanding leadership, do you think we have this? You cannot seriously believe we do.

I would say Carol Steere jumped before she was pushed.

What is wrong is that the extra resources were removed and things have gone back to normal. Hopefully they will be reinstated.

I still say parents must play a significant part in their children's education.


Neil Forman

Yes of course we have outstanding leadership, the education board have done everything they can, as did the excellent education board before them.

Even GM stated recently that he has heard and believes the education leadership is now excellent.

Carol's role became untenable after Mulkerrin but he has now clearly been proved wrong and you have hit the nail on the head that the only thing that can improve the high schools in the current circumstances is more money for special measures.

Those measures will improve the outcomes irrespective of parental shortcomings.



I said that the current Education board has definitely improved.

How can you possibly claim that there was an "excellent education board before them"? You mean the same education board which is the root cause of the appalling current standards of high school education? The same education board which destroyed the morale of so many teachers? The same education board who thought that shiny new schools would solve all the problems? Are you seriously claiming that Derek Neale did a good job?

In one post you claim that Mulkerrin is an educational expert, and in another post you discredit him altogether. So which is it?

Carol Steere's role became untenable a long time before any of us had even heard of Mulkerrin!

Island Wide Voting

A reminder of those happy days of yore



Yes I have always thought that Derek Neale probably did a good job. He wasn't perfect but no one is.

The problem of inequality in Guernsey schools is not one that any director or minister can solve. Guernsey education needs to evolve into something new.

I disagree that the previous board is the root cause of problems, as I have said repeatedly the High school standards are due to the inequality of 11+ and inequality of funding and this seems pretty obvious to me and plenty of others.

Shiny new schools do not even begin to resolve the problem but at least a tumble down school does not add to the list of disadvantages heaped onto 75% of our school children.

The process we have of investing heavily in 25% of students who go off into the world with glittering qualifications and most of whom never come back is not a sensible use of taxpayer money in my opinion.

Neglecting 75% of students, most of whom stay in Guernsey, and then recruiting from outside the island to fill positions requiring qualifications is also a waste of our islands most precious resource, it's people.

I have mixed feelings about Mr Mulkerrin. Yes he is an educational expert, but having spent his entire illustrious career as a headmaster in the UK, unfortunately, he had no idea of the politics and complexities of running an island state at the time he wrote his report.

Some of his recommendations were therefore not very helpful and in fact some were impossible. However he did grasp the opportunity to make his mark, and is now on the board, so he has secured a nice job for his retirement and his ongoing input is most welcome.

You are probably right about Carol Steere as any education minister under our flawed system was picking up a poison chalice.

Instead of focusing on the 11+ debate we need to start with a completely clean slate and look to the education vision document for ideas of how to pull Guernsey out of this antiquated mess and into the 21st century.



You say that most of the 25% leave the island and never return. Really? I think you will find that to be completely inaccurate. Where did you dream up that statistic? I think you will find literally thousands of employees in the finance industry and civil service, being our two major employers, who went to the Grammar or to the colleges!

I would challenge you to find more than half a dozen islanders who think Derek Neale did a good job. He almost single-handedly destroyed our education system during his tenure by destroying morale amongst teachers and running the secondary schools into the ground in his attempts to undermine the system to get his way in scrapping the 11-plus. In the process he wrecked the secondary school education of several thousand children by working against the system imposed by our government, rather than doing what any civil servant should do, which is to implement the decisions of the electorate.

He's somehow since managed to wangle his way into overseeing the rebuilding of the schools on a very lucrative consultancy fee (and no doubt for La Mare as well with his protege, Geraint ap Sion), and has never been made accountable for some of what went on in Education, which is disgraceful.

Oh yes, Derek Neale did a "good job" all right. He did a brilliant job in making the Colleges and Grammar school an even more compelling choice for parents who are not prepared to expose their children to the risks of a woefully sub-standard secondary/high school education and all the behavioural problems that go with it. Hat's off to Derek - top job.



I gather it is estimated that one in three graduates will not return to Guernsey. Apologies for my earlier inaccuracy.

I have given you MY opinion on Derek Neale in answer to your question, and yes he has by all accounts done an excellent job with the school buildings.

I simply don't agree with your assessment of blame at all although I'm sure individuals who believe all they read in the press will identify with your comments.

Continuing with a faulty system is never going to work. It's Einstein's definition of insanity "doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results".

Even the education leadership which you now approve of is not going to achieve the impossible.

Failing to change the system is holding back much needed evolution.

Neil Forman


We may have better leadership but it is nowhere near outstanding. There is still too much emphasis on building new schools and little care in what goes on in them.

Parents HAVE to play their part, education starts at home.

Re: Derek Neale, you only have to read Mulkerrin's report and the Jane Stephen's tribunal decision to see how he behaved. In my opinion Carol Steere's position became untenable when she backed him and refused to publish results until made to do so.



La Mare have been holding numerous parent workshops but it does not seem to have helped.

I don't agree with blaming the parents. Some who get scholarships get no parental support but rely on the school to push them with the benefit of high expectations and instilled self belief to enable them to succeed.

Carol did not refuse to publish the results, it was a board decision and the same decision that every education board before had made.

Publishing the results has not improved performance it has only caused stigma for the high schools especially La Mare. There is no justification.

Regarding Derek Neale, the States of Guernsey as his employer were in the wrong expecting him to handle a difficult and insubordinate employee like Jane Stephens. That required an experienced HR professional and legal support. Neale had neither and was apparently out of his depth.



Outstanding leadership would come into play if our 47 deputies looked at the educational evidence that proves that 75% of our children are being denied equality of opportunity.

Outstanding leadership will cause a vote in the States which does away with this antiquated regime to make way for a new and exciting 21st century vision.

Outstanding leadership will enable Guernsey to progress as a leading education jurisdiction of world class, like Finland.

Without this decision nothing will change. We will be having the same debate in 10 years time about the same problems. Our island's biggest asset, it's people, it's children, will be suffering the same inequality of opportunity and stigma endured by the 75% majority who attend the High schools.

We voted for change and we trusted those we voted in to be outstanding leaders capable of grasping problems and making decisions which solve them for good, however difficult those decisions might be. That is the outstanding leadership required.



"Outstanding leadership" doesn't just happen. It gets built over a period of years until it is well proven.



"Outstanding leadership" happens immediately when each and every good but difficult decision is made.



Utter garbage. By that ludicrous reasoning one "good but difficult decision" means outstanding leadership in your book, even if surrounded by a dozen appalling decisions, which then don't seem to count.

What planet are you visiting from today? Your postings over the past 24 hours on multiple threads indicate a totally irrational trend.

Are you simply trolling because its a Bank Holiday weekend?

Neil Forman


Why have the parent workshops not worked, was it poor attendance? This sounds like a good idea.

Parents should not rely on teachers doing it all, if a parent cannot be bothered, why should the teacher. The child not getting help at home will probably give up too if nobody cares. It is a parents job to nurture their children and want the best for them.

Education should also care and work with housing better to ensure there is no hold up in signing the best teachers. Mulkerrin said that as a headmaster he would expect recruitment of a teacher to be done and dusted within two weeks. Are we doing this or are we being held back by red tape and losing out?

If you read the Mulkerrin report, he highlights the way the Education board meetings were handled by Derek Neale. I assume Carol Steere was kept in the dark a bit and listened to her Director of Education.

The publication of the results and subsequent report by Mulkerrin did improve results, this was due to extra measures being put in, why these have been removed is a question I will ask.

Derek Neale was Director of Education, he had the tools and procedures to deal with what you call a difficult and insubordinate employee, my opinion after reading the tribunal decision was that there was a bit of a witch hunt.

As GM states, outstanding leadership does not happen overnight, this has to be built.



Forgive me Neil but you left LMDC without any qualifications did you not? Was this because your parents couldn't be bothered? Of course not.

I believe the problem is far more complex than simply the parents can't be bothered.

For a start the vast majority of children that start at a high school have already been told by the education department, by letter, they have not passed the 11+ and therefore the school that is most suitable for them is not one of the academic schools. This immediately causes low expectations and low esteem.

There are widespread mental health problems and poverty problems in our community which are not given the attention and resources they need. Children suffer and exam results are a symptom of this problem. The solution to this is very difficult but the medical officer of health's report on health equity must be taken into account in every political policy. Mental health services must match demand.

Didn't you read the education department's responses to Mulkerrin? If you had you would have understood the reasons why they cannot recruit teachers within 2 weeks. That is a totally unrealistic timeframe. We are not in the UK! Teachers cannot decide within 2 weeks to uproot their families and move to an island where they will be ousted after 5 years and in the meantime will have minimal prospects for career progression.

Also, every employer in Guernsey must give ample opportunity for a locally resident person to apply for a job before applying for a housing licence. This takes more than two weeks and it is due to a law which is in place to protect local people. Without it there would be no teaching opportunities in Guernsey for locally qualified residents.

Yes we are losing out on teachers because of this but it is recognised as a necessary evil. Being an island state we have complex problems which cannot be compared to the UK. You are attempting to simplify these problems and that was Mulkerrin's mistake too.

Allegations of minister's being kept in the dark by civil servants are being made all the time, even now, across all departments, and this is alleged to be a problem of our system of government. But this is not the cause of erratic High school exam results.

I don't know what it is you think was being hidden from the education board but Carol Steere defended Derek Neale and insisted that they were visiting schools and talking to staff and pupils contrary to Mulkerrin's allegation that they were not.

High School results were erratic before Derek Neale and they will continue to be erratic long after he is gone. Whatever his shortcomings, convoluting the problems by blaming him is a complete red herring and waste of time.

It was not the publication of results nor the Mulkerrin report which improved the results last year, if you look at the results over the years as shown in the tables in the Mulkerrin report you will see results have always been erratic. If nothing changes in our system of education why should we expect this erratic pattern of results to change?

The school with the highest proportion of low income families in the year group will always be bottom of the table. Publishing the results of the individual high schools only stigmatises the pupils in that school and achieves nothing. Every education board in the past has understood this and decided not to publish individual results. It's unnecessary and it's cruel. It does not necessarily reflect the performance of the school leadership nor the education department leadership it simply reflects the problems of that year group cohort.

Obviously, the special measures which Carol Steere arranged before anyone had even heard of Mulkerrin made a huge difference for the year group which benefited from the additional assistance provided by Geoff Cowley and his colleagues. I suspect additional resources in English and Maths were particularly beneficial. This needs to be the primary focus as without those key skills any other academic pursuits are a struggle.

LMDC does not have the funding for those special measures over a longer timeframe. This is in contrast to the continual funding for support where needed and ease of recruitment of english and maths teachers which is available to students at the Colleges all the time.

The improvements recommended by Geoff Cowley might have some long term effect but really as with the Mulkerrin recommendations, it is like rearranging the scatter cushions around the elephant in the room.

Mulkerrin said that comprehensives could work in Guernsey but they would require outstanding leadership. My first point in relation to this comment is that outstanding leadership is required to overcome the opposition and misconceptions about comprehensives (which Mulkerrin highlighted at length in his report). Outstanding leadership is therefore required in order to make the decision to abolish the 11+ in the first place. Finland made this decision 40 years ago and no one can deny it was the right decision for them.

Once the decision is made outstanding leadership is required to plan ahead, as Finland did, to ensure a smooth transition to the new system and to create a new system which works. Everything in the vision statement illustrates what we should be aiming for. A completely fresh and modern approach which starts from scratch giving every child what they need to engage at school and use it as a means to develop as an individual, instead of an outdated system based on pigeon holing children and then measuring their value by way of standardised tests.

The third point is that it is nonsense to judge leadership against an intrinsically flawed and outdated system which is forced upon the education department. Within this system we will always get the same erratic results and low expectations from 75% of children. This has been the case since records began. As I explained above these results prove nothing about the leadership and never will. It is ludicrous therefore to use these erratic results to justify maintaining the status quo.

The only other solution I can envisage is that the States decide to invest heavily in the high schools and withdraw support for the colleges. This might create more demand for high school places and raise the results of the cohort which would eventually mean that fewer and fewer pupils opt to take the 11+. If the 11+ became obsolete in this way it might create a more favourable environment for evolution of our education service.

Fighting to keep what we've got now is Einstein's definition of insanity.



Wow - some absolute gems from you in this post. Where shall I start?

You are concerned that a child is being told at age 11 that one of the more academic schools is not for them. Well, that's because a test has determined that they are not one of the more academically-minded in their year. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, surely the solution is to ensure that the high schools are NOT considered to be "not academic". Raise the teaching standards and invest in measures which will eradicate that view. Where does this "fail" inferrence come from in the first place? The parents!

You yourself make the point that school results will be materially affected by "poor" catchment areas. How will this EVER be solved? The chidren live where they live. The schools are where they are. The children will go to the same schools. They will still have the same level of parental interest or disinterest in their education. Those are the factors which are fixed - they cannot change.

What CAN change is the standard of teaching and the standard of discipline at those schools, so that the children who go there get the best possible education appropriate to THEIR needs. That does not happen at present,and its not the 11-plus which causes that. Its the low standard of teaching and the inability to maintain high standards of discipline, resulting in disruption of learning. Those same factors would still be there if the 11-plus was abolished. The 11-plus is NOT the cause of them.

I agree with you re the recruitment of teachers. If we are going to reolve that problem, then we have to treat teachers differently under the housing laws, so that we don't have to throw out the good ones after 5 years. On the other hand, we cannot get ourselves into a situation whereby we are stuck with the poor ones. Teachers need to know that they will be critically appraised, and the good ones will have no problem staying here permanently under long-term licences. The poor ones will not get their 3-year licenced renewed. If we don't crack this nut, then the standard of teaching is very unlikely to improve.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Carol Steere only introduced the special measures at La Mare AFTER the brown stuff hit the whirly thing. Yes, before Mulkerrin, but it was hardly a pre-emptive measure!

Forget your obsession to Finland! It bears no resemblance to Guernsey. What was its starting point 40 years ago? Poor standards of teaching and behavioural issues disrupting classes? An obsession with today's UK-style celebrity-driven culture? I think not. You might just as well have used a town in China as your example.

The problem is not that the system we have is "forced upon" the Education Department. Its that the Education Department and its senior civil servants cannot and will not accept the democratically-made decision of our democratically-elected government to operate the system that exists, and so has continually fought against it instead of getting on with the administative job that they are paid to do as civil servants. If they feel that strongly about it, then get out and find another job, but don't wreck generation after generation of island childrens' education by undermining the system and not supporting it, quietly hoping that it will eventually get so bad that change will occur. It's been like this for the past 15 years. How many children have been so badly affected by this resistance?

As I have said repeatedly, we MUST invest in the high schools, but not just in shiny buildings. We must invest in raising the standards of teaching (including sorting out the housing issues).

You keep referring to the elephant in the room (meaning in your view the 11-plus). But you don't mention the herds of elephants in the castlefull of rooms, which is the biggest issue of all. Discipline and classroom disruption. You don't seem to have any answers to this, other than to try to sabotage the Colleges and grammar schools so that those children are also affected by it, when at present their education thrives because they are NOT affected by it. Don't you think it is a better objective to deal with the issue rather than just accepting it, but spreading its impact and lowering the overall average grades as a result?

The Education Council has to adopt a totally different attitude to dealing with disruptive students. Stand-offs and face-offs and an inability to impose appropriate punishments completely undermines any school learning environment. If its to be zero tolerance, with parents at last becoming accountable for their child's behaviour then hallelujah, and not before time.

Queue the howls of protest from the namby-pamby socialist left-wingers who will quote "human rights". Well - what about the basic human right to be able to attend school and learn without a few bad apples being able to badly affect the whole class's learning environment?

Sort out the teaching standards and discipline first. Then, and only then, will an environment potentially exist which could be a viable alternative to the 11-plus for Guernsey. It would probably take 3-5 years for it to be proven that changes have worked, which is about the same time needed for the Education Department to prove that it has "outstanding leadership".



I agree that the High schools should be equally academically demanding as the Colleges and Grammar but the point is there is therefore no purpose in segregation at age 11.

The "fail" inference comes from children being encouraged to sit a test which will determine whether they are deemed of a standard at age 11 to be awarded a scholarship place at a school which then yields higher exam results.

Getting a letter from the education department to say that the requisite standard to achieve those exam results has not been achieved and therefore the child has "failed" to gain a coveted place at one of those schools sends a strong and false message to that child that they are not academic and this is where the inference comes from, not the parents.

It is customary for people to refer to this process as a test which is either passed or not passed as the case may be. Nothing will change that.

It is not the catchment areas that affect the results it is the cohort. For example the cohort of a particular year might be exceptionally bright but nevertheless still only 25% get awarded special places. The remaining students of that year group will nonetheless most likely yield reasonably good results. This works both ways leading to erratic results for the high schools from one year to the next.

The catchment areas are flexible, for example the LMDC catchment area includes areas of St Peter Port.

This can be changed. Parental interest in education absolutely can be changed. Anything can be changed.

Every child deserves a good education, every child has individual needs. The 11+ destroys equality of opportunity. We can and must do better for all children.

I absolutely do not agree with your comments on extending the licences of teachers. The housing law serves a purpose which is essential to safeguard opportunities in every profession for locally qualified residents to have access to jobs. This is imperative on an island which naturally has limited opportunities. Mulkerrin made the same mistake of failing to understand the profound purpose of the housing law.

It is not a problem to lose teachers in my opinion. Anyone is replaceable. All teachers should be good ones, if they are not good they should not be recruited or they should be let go long before their licence expires. Letting them go when their time is up is the lesser of the two evils. It is essential to provide job openings to locals.

What is important is to provide teachers with continued development and to pay attention to the details of succession planning and the recruitment process. Mot importantly it is important to secure specialist English and maths teachers. These key skills allow pupils to access the rest of the curriculum.

Yes I can correct you regarding the special measures which were introduced for LMDC. The education department instigated these when they found out the GCSE results in August 2011, long before the results were published in the autumn and some 5 months before the Mulkerrin review was published.

The starting point for Finland was when the country was struggling to pull itself out of recession. They decided to take radical steps to invest in their people to enable the country to compete and innovate and thereafter enable it's economy to recover.

Their goal was to deliver the best possible education to the maximum number of people. They decided that to do this it would be necessary to abolish private education and introduce a comprehensive system with excellent teaching at the core of their ethos. It worked!

They decided to elevate the status of teachers making it a masters degree profession and put respect for teachers on a par with doctors and lawyers.

They minimised the testing process and focused their resources on child development, learning and understanding rather than teaching how to memorise and pass tests. I guess this frees up money to spend on higher teachers salaries.

They provided ancillary support to the education system by introducing sound social policies to ensure that poverty was no barrier, ensuring that all children were clothed, fed (free school meals) and healthy.

They created a culture where reading was encouraged through pre school and other initiatives and reading is now deeply embedded in family and childhood culture.

Every country is now desperate to emulate Finland's educational success. This would undoubtably be possible for Guernsey. We can do what we want! Larger countries would struggle to introduce the level of change that would be required but we could do it and we could introduce other new innovative changes to put Guernsey on the vanguard of global education.

Educationalists do not approve of the 11+. There is a good reason for this. It doesn't matter that retaining 11+ is a democratically made decision, it is demoralising for educationalists and you can't force them to embrace a flawed system.

Try telling a gardener that he cannot water your plants. Then blame him when your plants die. How many gardeners would you need to get through before you would understand that it is your policy which is at fault not the gardener!

The biggest barrier to success seems to be Guernsey's reluctance to embrace change.

Yes I agree we must invest in the High schools and buildings do make a difference, No doubt the evidence will be brought to the states in due course of how buildings effect learning. Teachers expect to work in modern rooms fit for purpose not cramped conditions.

The 11+ elephant in the room absolutely must be ousted one way or another. It is holding us back from progress. We need to be free to implement the new age strategies which were presented to us in the education vision statement. We need to listen to the world's experts on this. It is a fantastic opportunity for Guernsey.

Finland don't have problems with classroom disruption, nor do they need to resort to corporal punishment and breaching of children's human rights. They have found ways to make children want to learn.

Beating the hell out of children to get them to sit still and keep quiet is absolutely the wrong direction for us to go.

Failing to change what we have is Einstein's definition of insanity. Even outstanding leadership cannot achieve the impossible. Outstanding leadership needs to be bold, confident and inspired and follow through with positive change. It is time for an education revolution, in fact it is well overdue.



I maintain that this whole feeling of "failure" is one which has been created very unwisely. Its also magnified today by just how bad the high schools have become. Many see it as a sentence to a poor education. Raise the standards and that massive factor goes away.

You yourself mentioned the barriers who the housing laws present when trying to recruit good teachers from the UK, yet now you say that the housing laws don't need to be addressed. So, which is it? How do we attract good teachers who are put off by the housing laws?

Yes, you've highlighted the complete non-correlation between Guernsey and Finland. You've stated that Finland needed to recover its economy which was in the doldrums. That's a massive under-statement. Finland's economy was at rock bottom. Ours has been ultra-successful for decades.

You've also very conveniently not mentioned that Finland is a very highly taxed country. It ploughs a massive amount of those taxes into education. Guernsey, in case you aren't noticed, is a low tax jurisdiction. There is no appetite here to be paying 40% or 50% rates of income tax. So who would pay for your Finnish-style Education system? Guernsey taxpayers certainly won't.

You say that Finland doesn't have classroom disruption. No, and neither does most of developed Europe either. Unfortunately, Guernsey is a satellite of UK trends, and the behavioural issues are very similar to that of the UK, albeit on a lower scale. Yes, good old UK systems which have removed all powers of discipline from the teachers, and what an awful mess we have been left with.

Why do you refer to beating children? That's not the only option. Exclusion and parental responsibility must be the first steps. If not excluded, then the apple rots, and the eager-to-learn children get disrupted. Totally unacceptable. What's your solution for Guernsey? Forget Finland - it hasn't had to address these issues. You can't just cross your fingers and hope. There needs to be complete confidence in the high school's way of dealing with disruptive children. There is zero confidence at present, and not even a glimmer of hope.



The high schools haven't "become" bad! They are no better or worse than they have ever been and the evidence proves this. Look at the results tables in the Mulkerrin report.

Raise the standards yes, but under the current system it will cost.

We can't remove the housing law problem so we have to ensure other barriers are not deterring teachers. Therefore we have to give some of what Finland has to offer for example, better pay, more status, more freedom to teach in a creative way, offer equal opportunities to children and make Guernsey a place where teachers can come to develop their skills, and be inspired rather than just being a dead end stop gap in their careers.

Are you trying to argue that Guernsey does not have any need to boost it's economy now or in future? Are you joking?

Finland's education system is less expensive than other less successful countries so your argument about higher taxes paying for a more expensive system is wrong. It's a case of changing the way funding is prioritised, instead of the cost of standardised testing and segregation and subsidised private schools, Finland put all their investment into the teachers.

You have previously agreed with me that Guernsey's priority should be to invest in it's people and that means education. We will need well educated resourceful and entrepreneurial people to tide us through into the uncertain future.

You seem to have this impression that Guernsey has disproportionate behaviour problems amongst its children but I don't think you really have any idea or anything to compare this with. Discipline should be instilled in the pupils not something which is inflicted by teachers.

I agree with parental responsibility being important but believe it or not most parents are responsible. Social policies need to address the problems of poverty, these problems will rise unless poverty and health equity is addressed. Exclusion is a cop out. It simply does not work, it just adds to a child's problems. Pupils need appropriate support in school to enable them to access the curriculum on a continual basis.

Rather than labeling some children disruptive and others eager to learn surely it is more intelligent to put the effort into making every child eager to learn. That is what experts like Sir Ken Robinson say. All the possibilities of how to meet this challenge are presented in the education vision statement.

Of course Finland has had to address these issues. They started with a blank sheet of paper and designed a system that would work.

The High schools outcomes are consistently erratic and will continue to be so until there is a shift away from this flawed system. For confidence in Guernsey education as a whole we need change.

Neil Forman


I did stay on at school at first but was offered an apprenticeship in a trade I wanted to do. I'm still in that trade today and have changed employers four times since. I have also taken many courses since and gained many qualifications. It was my choice to leave and do not regret doing so, I still love what I do.

My parents were bothered and my father ( ex Grammar ) always made time for our education. He even wrote to the school stating that if we needed to be disciplined they had his consent. After trying the boundaries a few times I learnt. I was no angel but I always respected the teachers. Some I keep in contact with today.

The whole stigma of children who have not passed the 11+ being labeled as a ' failure ' can only be blamed on the people who label them as such. It is not the first knock back they will receive during their life.

Why wrap them in cotton wool? Are you going to try and get rid of driving tests because they may fail? ( that is the actual term the examiners use ).

Are we going to do away with job interviews because it is not fair that someone is going to be disappointed?

Life is not fair, getting past these hurdles life throws at you is what makes you. You can give up or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.

If the high schools need more resources, give them. Instead of building shiny new schools equip and repair what we have and give them the tools they need to ensure that all get the best education we can give them.

Disruption is a problem that needs to be dealt with, I have heard it so many times. That needs a zero tolerance attitude and backing from parents, if somebody is determined to disrupt the class remove them, find out the problem and deal with it and let the others who want to learn do so. It is unfair that their education is being held back.

If housing laws are stopping us get the excellent teachers or retaining them, we need to change the law and quickly. Our children's education is paramount.

As for the response to Mulkerrin, yes I have read it. What annoys me is that one person can highlight so many problems when we employ many well paid people at the Education offices. A dislike of the 11+ is not a good enough reason to ignore the wishes of the States of Guernsey who were elected to make these decisions and decided to retain it.

What do you say to this?



You say it is the parents fault for not supporting their children and yet your parents supported you and you would have been one of the statistics that failed to make the grade.

You do not regret leaving school without qualifications and yet now you are highly critical that other children are not achieving the "gold standard".

Double standards?

You can't compare 11+ with failing a driving test! Everyone passes their driving test eventually. 11+ falsely categorises children's intrinsic abilities!

It's not wrapping them in cotton wool to treat children equally and offer equal opportunities that is their right it's not mollycoddling.

You are not going to change the housing licence system. Did you miss the recent debate? The system is changing but licences will stay.

Your comment about education ignoring the wishes of the States of Guernsey makes no sense.

As for the Guardian article, Anne Widdecombe is entitled to her opinion. My opinion is that selection in the UK is not a mechanism for social mobility anymore. It has become a mechanism for the middle classes to buy advantages. I thought everyone now acknowledges this but clearly there are still some who are deluded.

Neil Forman


Maybe it was a good year;-)

I was borderline and passed to LMDC. I recieved a good education but then there was discipline. If you disrupted a class you were removed.

It is not double standards, I was offered a job I wanted and took it, I could have stayed on and maybe gone on to university and then looked for a job. I made a decision to leave and do not regret it. Many are not successful at 11+ yet do well and go on to university and excel.

Times have changed however and trades are suffering, apprenticeships are scarce and so are jobs. You need a good education these days to get a job that will allow you to support a family and buy your home. We have embraced finance and that has come at a cost.

If the States really want our children to have the best teachers and education they will have to change laws to enable excellent teachers to stay and to attract sufficient staff to do so. It can be done if they put their mind to it. ( Chief Minister rules ).

In my opinion senior education staff have their own agenda.

Devil's Advocate

The problem the island has compared to Finland etc. is that the majority of families have both parents at work to afford their mortgage, and subsequently their children are packed off to nursery or left to their own devices. This means that their education is compromised as no nursery can give the child the 1:1 attention a parent will. The present attitude and culture of the UK stinks, having spent a fair bit of time in Germany recently I'm amazed we won the war because their attitude to life is SO much better than ours. They care about being the best. They care more about quality than cost. They care about doing a real job, not winning x-factor.

Matt Fallaize

Devil's Advocate,

Whether one admires or despises Finland's social democracy, I don't think one can attribute its characteristics to stay-at-home mums. In Finland, women comprise a greater proportion of the labour market than in almost any other country in the world. Nursery and pre-school education is also exceptionally widespread.


I'm certainly not going to discuss the 11+ with GM of IWV so instead I have a couple of questions I would like these two posters to answer. These questions are very simple so a simple yes or no answer will suffice.

Q1 Are the students who have had a "woefully substandard secondary\high school education" (I qoute GM).Making up 66% of the sixth form at the sixth form centre or not?

Q2 Do you think the least able academically 25% of students are capable of getting 5 GSCE c grades or not?



1. I don't know whether that's the case or not.

2. Capable probably yes, but ONLY with good teachers and in a learning environment not disrupted by ill-disciplined peers. So on the current state of play, it is unlikely.

Island Wide Voting

Sorry Kevin.If I may be so bold I choose not to discuss this matter with you either


Spartacus, you cannot be allowed to keep peddling such rubbish.

Neale had access to all the legal advice he could consume. That's why 14 years worth of discarded teachers still cannot tell their stories because of gags skilfully applied by Neale and his supporters at St James Chambers.

He was out of his depth in that his control freakery and hold on ministers like Carole Steer eventually broke down

But it cost thousands of kids a proper education, god knows how much in severance payments and raids on the pension fund and lost self esteem for teachers who were sacked by him, often brutally, for the 'crime' of crossing him.

A good man indeed


Control freakery! I take it you would prefer someone in charge who is not in control.

And a "good man" is one who suffers fools and is too nice to exercise any performance management duties I suppose.



There is a huge difference between being in control and being a control freak.

The evidence required to expose Derek Neale has been buried by him in gagging orders. It can only be exposed if immunity is granted for breaking those gagging orders. Did he have the power to impose gagging orders in the first place? If not then they are probably invalid.

Maybe he is still an employee rather than a consultant. If he is an employee then he certainly should not be. Maybe its the £1m golden handshake which he somehow negotiated for himself which has prevented termination. How many other civil servants have done that? Is that "normal? How on earth did it happen?

If the details of what's hidden by the gagging orders was exposed then I doubt very much that the £1m golden handshake would ever be payable......



We have had this conversation before.

He's an employee, there were no grounds for dismissal, unfair dismissal is out of the question. He's now just getting on with the job. End of.



You certainly protest too much. You are clearly very close to Derek Neale.

There were ample grounds for dismissal. Read the Mulkerrin report and the Jane Stephens' case. He scandalously had a £1m golden handshake clause. That's the sole reason he wasn't sacked. He also "buried the evidence" of other deeds worthy of dismissal in his now infamous gagging orders.

Are you actually Derek Neale?



I've never met the guy!

If you think the way he handled the Jane Stephens ousting problem was grounds for dismissal you are clearly unfamiliar with Guernsey employment law. Even Sir Alan Sugar would have struggled with a problem of that magnitude.

What is your problem with him? Is it personal?



Sorry - I just don't accept that you've never met him.

His handling of the Jane Stephens affair was unquestionably enough to have at least moved him sideways, any any Education Board with any guts would have done just that.

The really damning stuff though is hidden in the cases of ex-employees who were forced to enter into gagging orders. If he's got nothing to hide, then let's open us those cases for all to see. All it takes is granting of immunity.

My problem with him is not personal either. I've only met him once, and that was very brief. My issue is that he has ruined the educations of several thousand island children through his inept running of Education, and not only has he never been properly brought to account, he has weaselled his way into ongoing projects building new gold-plated schools. Lovely buildings, but irrelevant when the underlying education of young islanders is being so badly neglected, and has been for the last two decades.



I don't think the education board or any of the political committees have any power to hire and fire employees.

Those who are responsible for him as an employee of the States of Guernsey, clearly came to different conclusions than you have done.



Somebody hired him, so somebody can fire him. Or did he appoint himself?

On the basis that Neale hid no end of information from his political board, no doubt he was hiding information from his civil service line manager, whoever that was.

Wouldn't you say its absurd that any individual senior civil servant, a Director of Education, could be employed in such an influential role but is unable to be removed no matter how he behaves? Totally unanswerable and unaccountable to anyone, and negotiated a £1m golden handshake.

How on earth could that be allowed to happen? How many other cosy little handshakes were agreed by the senior civil servants for each other's benefit?

LOL - you really couldn't make it up.

Is it really just me who finds this completely unacceptable?



Of course someone could fire him. I guess he is now accountable to Jon Buckland? Would have been Mike Brown prior to the reshuffle.

There you go again repeating all the rumours about him hiding things when actually all you have done is listen to tittle tattle.

Of course he was accountable and could be removed if there were grounds under his contract or under Guernsey employment law and I am sure the states of Guernsey were advised of their legal position.

Whoever agreed the £1m golden handshake and any others is accountable in my opinion and this is a matter which should be looked into and the public should be made aware of any golden handshakke clauses and the amounts without breaching any confidentiality. I believe the CM in Jersey ordered an enquiry into golden handshakes in their civil service contracts a while ago but I'm unaware of the outcome of that investigation.



No, not " tittle tattle" at all.

He would only have been brought to account if his line managers were able to access the evidence, which they can't because of the gagging clauses.

The sooner this whole sordid scandal is fully investigated, the better. And yes, there would be lots of spilt blood.



Good luck with that but don't hold your breath.



100% correct, and despite so many people being aware of this, there is no formal investigation into Derek Neale and his wonderful legacy to this island.

And yet, he remains in a highly paid consultancy role with Education.

It is nothing short of a disgraceful scandal which continues to be covered up.

Can anyone explain why?


I don't think he's in a consultancy role I think he's still an employee.

If you can substantiate the alleged scandal someone might then investigate.


Right Beercan, Spartacus has been overflowing with rubbish for years.

Should stand for election would be in good company just imagine the state of education in the island with Sillers and Spartacus on the board.


Hmmmm...... IWV speaks volumes does your answer.

GM Thanks for at least answering, however if you think that the least able students can all get five c grades or above you are seriously out of touch. Further I would question the validity of any exam where everyone can pass.



You asked me whether they were "capable". I didn't say that I believed they would actually achieve it, as that's not the question you asked. With the current standard of teaching and the disruptive behaviour which abounds, I don't think they would achieve it. But it doesn't mean that they aren't capable!

I too would question the validity of any exam where everyone can pass. The British education system started its decline when this became possible, and all this nonsense started about not being allowed to fail. When I took O Levels it was pass or fail, and a C was a pass. A grade D or E was a failure and it counted for nothing. Everything therefore strived for a C. All or nothing, and we all knew where we stood, as did employers.

Island Wide Voting

Just mirroring the nice way you posed the questions ... simple as that really ... discuss

Reality check

I agree Kevin. If the least able 25% could achieve 5A*-C grades including English and maths, we wouldn't be using it as a benchmark. If they could achieve these results, we would be looking at a much higher benchmark. I am surprised that GM and IWV could not answer this question (as un-pc as the answer may be).

As a previous poster commented, students are 'expected' to obtain a C grade if they achieve a level 4b in primary school. Many children arrive at secondary school (as many as 50% in some year groups) having not achieved this benchmark in primary school. Some of those children, due to various factors -both nature and nurture, are not able to achieve a 4b and would not be expected to achieve a C grade at GCSE. For others, better teaching, better funding and better intervention would help make this more possible.

Deputy Fallaize's suggestion that we release the predicted grades of students based upon their MIDYIS and YELLIS test results is not a bad idea at all. That said, some (not all) of the high schools would still be under achieving in terms of results, but it would help the general public to see what the 'realistic' percentage of students who should have achieve 5A*s-C including English and maths is. This will vary from year group to year group. I (in my wisdom) already predict that the results for students completing their GCSEs in 2016 will fall. This will undoubtedly create a rush of sensationalist headlines and ill-informed comments, but could be given much more perspective if MIDYIS, YELLIS and KS2 results were published alongside the GCSE results.

Publishing KS2 results and predictions would also help to remove the unknown impact of creaming off the top 25% of students. It would mean that schools were judged on their 'value added' which is a better indication of the impact that teaching has had on a student during their time in secondary school e.g. did they make good progress? For some students good progress is a C, but for others good progress might be a D or an E grade and schools should be given credit for helping students achieve this where they have successfully done so. Equally, for some students (e.g. those at grammar) 5A*s-C is not a good achievement and may -when compared with other data- show how they have simply coasted as the result of poor teaching or lack of effort on their part.

So my point is not every student can achieve the benchmark. That is simply the reality of life. We are not all destined to work in banks and offices. However all students should be making good progress and a rigorous system of analysing exam results should take this into account and should also be made transparent so that the general public can have a clearer idea of how well a particular school has done considering their cohort of students.


Reality Check

A very good post, which makes a lot of sense.

By the way, I did answer Kevin's question.

Sarnia expat

Spartacus, I am really sorry to have to drect this post to you directly, but really, enough already! We know where you stand in the eleven plus debate, your fawning admiration of Mr Neale and the Princess of Punk herself. If there was a debate on this forum about ice cream you would somehow be able to bring education and the eleven plus into the equation,

The fact of the matter is that we live in an island that, for the very near future, will embrace the concept of segregation by ability in a number of examionations at the age of eleven.

I am only sorry that for personal reasons our child is not at the College through fee paying methods. Life would have been far easier for him had it been possible to fund his schooling this way. That said, what is done is done, and we are fully supportive of his education and will back him to the hilt. Our (and is is ours, not just his) school is not performing well, but no amount of new classrooms will turn this problem around in my childs school life time. So it is up to us, as parents, to help him get him through the examinations he will require to acquire a decent job.

Spartacus, I am sure you mean well, but I have heard enough, frankly.


Sarnia Expat

You sound so despondent and sad. I'm very sorry if you feel hopeless.

If you have already read my views and disagree to the point of frustration I'm not sure why you decide to keep reading them?

I make no apology for the fact that I refuse to share the public enjoyment of vilification of individuals who are made scapegoats of such an obviously flawed system. Ministers deputies, civil servants, teachers, parents, pupils, all are apportioned blame by those who are ignoring the very big and very obvious elephant in the room.

Sarnia expat

I am neither despondent or sad, thanks for your concern however, as i have made the best of a bad job. I gave up reading your posts eons ago, theres just so many of them!!!!

However, I shall retire gracefully from this round, as I know how much you delight in having the last word, even if it is "tedious"!!


Sarnia Expat

I dont think you are despondent and sad at all, you sound like a parent who is trying to do their best for their child, and in your case make the most of a less than ideal situation. I think spartacus has interpreted your actions as someone who has 'given in' and accepted the status quo. However your choice of the word segregation to describe the outcome of the selective process provides some insight into your feelings about it. You are adopting a pragmatic view by using your energy positively to increase the odds of your child doing well which is your current priority. Good for you.


Perhaps if Spartacus' vision for the future of education is fulfilled we will get ourselves a system to rival the one in Liberia.



For one who has said so much on this thread about woeful teaching at the high schools et al

You did not know that 68% of pupils at the sixth form centre come from the high schools.

Now you and "right wing ray" I mean IWV should have known that. You didn't take the time to find out.

Further GM you were at the Grammar School around about the time I was and you have told posters here how it was great and a school of excellence. Well I'm here to tell the posters that it was not. You have been economical with the truth. Yes we did get a good education but there was disruption in class, you know there was, there were some weak teachers. Disruption is nothing new I wish it did not exist but you have misled people who are looking at your posts on this site.

Sarnia Expat

If your child is going to excel he or she will no matter what school they go to here in Guernsey.

Finally if you assume that 25% of the most able student were creamed off by the 11+ and the least able 25% of students could not reasonably be expected get 5 gcse grades at c or above.(I know that GM thinks all students can get those "gold standard" grades but even IWV hasn't backed that one up.) Our "worst" performing High School with 23% of ALL students getting 5 c's or above is getting hammered. Food for thought maybe?

Sarnia Expat.

Finally when I was in the sixth form at Grammar School two, that's right, two, students joined us for sixth form from Les Beaucamps and none from any other secondary school. Now 68% of the students at the sixth form centre are from the high schools.



I must be missing something. In what way have I indicated that I wasn't aware of that 68% figure? I don't recall even commenting on that. Please refresh my memory.

Compared with the high schools today, the Grammar School in the mid-late 70s was of a very decent standard. I have not been "economical with the truth". What is "the truth"? We are talking here about subjective opinions!

I don't recall any significant "disruption in class". I do recall detentions being regularly handed out. I also recall lots of playground fights/incidents, dealt with by detentions, caning / the slipper, and also several expulsions. Things got dealt with.

Stand-offs with teachers? No. Disruptive boys remaining in the classroom? No. At least not in my year, and we weren't aware of it in either the year above or year below either.

Yes, there were some weak teachers, some of which should have been weeded out. Where have I ever said this was not the case?

I have not "misled" anybody with my views. Your post suggests that English Comprehension was not a subject in which you excelled at school.


OMG. Regular detentions being handed out, playground fights/incidents. Caning, slipper, expulsions. Weak teachers. It was obviously completely out of control and over run with feral children. Blame the parents and lack of discipline.

Island Wide Voting

P*ssy Piesing gave me a detention once just for farting during a Chemistry lesson ... mind you it was of A* quality!



Detentions were handed out for merely talking in class. Caning or the slipper for serious misdemeanours. Recipients of the cane/slipper were quite rare - most learned their lesson after the first one. Regular offenders were expelled.

Disruptive classes? Stand-offs with teachers? Nope.

Absolutely no comparison.

You clearly don't recognise the extent of the problem. Play it down all you like. It is clearly a very widespread problem at the high schools.


Serious misdemeanors as well?

Shocking failure. Even worse than I thought.

Your grammar school was clearly broken, surely only a negligent irresponsible and probably drunk underclass teen parent would have allowed a child such as you to attend such a substandard underbelly of a school.

Perhaps this was due to the housing licences.

Neil Forman


It's called dicipline, as I have said I was no angel and saw the wrong end of the slipper, ruler and table tennis bat. It did me no harm and I did not hold a grudge, I deserved it. I certainly would not have gone toe to toe with a teacher.

Ok J.P. ;-)


That got me giggling.



What's housing licences got to do with it? I must be missing something.

Yes, serious misdemeanours such as vandalism or bullying. Of course that would just go unpunished today. Which is precisely why we are now in this whole behavioural/discipline mess. What's the deterrent today to stop such behaviour? There is no deterrent.


There was vandalism and bullying too?

This really is seriously shocking. It must have been a total behavioural/disciplinary mess at Grammar school back then.

Clearly you were dragged up not brought up.

Maybe it was due to all the gagging clauses in that case.



Grow up and stop trolling.



What I actually said in response to your Sixth Form Centre figure was that I didn't know whether your numbers were correct. You need to look at your question again.

You asked whether the students who had received a "woefully substandard secondary/high school education" made up 66% of the sixth form at the sixth form centre.

I didn't know and don't know the exact percentages. Neither do you, as your later post refers to 68%, not 66%.

However, think of the question that you asked. Are you asking whether 66% (or 68%) of the students at the Sixth Form Centre come from the secondary/high schools? Or are you asking whether 66% (or 68%) of those who received a "woefully substandard secondary/high school education" were now at the Sixth Form Centre?

If the former, then the figures are whatever they are. If the latter, then its an emphatic no. Many of those with the "woefully substandard" education will have left the secondary/high schools at the end of Year 11 and not progressed at all to sixth form education as they wouldn't have attained the minimum grades.

Sorry if my answer was confusing or ambiguous. Unfortunately that's because your question was confusing and ambiguous. I should have asked you precisely what you meant before trying to answer it the first time.



We may just get an education system fairer to ALL.


I was being facetious kevin. Just trying to wind up Spartacus. I really don't know what to make of this whole debate to be honest although it does seem rather strange to me that we still have a system that was there when I took (and 'passed') the 11plus more than 40 years ago.

Island Wide Voting

Very interesting to note that kevin has answered Martino's link to a story from Liberia where EVERY student failed the exam to get into University by claiming in effect that at least the Liberian system is 'fair to all'

kevin, be honest now,you know it's the best policy,are you Spartacus in disguise?


Reality Check

Your post exhibits a knowledge of education at a high level.


Reality Check's post contradicts just about everything you have said here. Yet you say it's a good post.

Your credability is waning by the minute.



Please elaborate. You say I didn't answer your question - but I did. In what way is what I said being contradicted by Reality Check.

Your last two posts have stumped me. You seem to be deeming me to be saying things which I haven't said!


Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it

seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving

us something enlightening to read?


I'll spell it out as simply as I can for you GM.

I believe you knew full well that two thirds of the pupils at the sixth form centre came from the high schools but this fact won't fit your arguement so you gave a nebulous answer.

68% of the students at the sixth form centre come from the high schools. These pupils need 5 c grades or above to get in. These pupils have had a woefully inadequate education according to you.These students have succeeded in spite of the system you advocate Something doesn't fit with your reasoning. I seriously question what you know about high schools I suggest that you are out of touch.

I'll leave it at that.



Please don't tell me what I did know and what I didn't know. I'm in rather a better position to know what I do and don't know than you are. If pushed, I would have guessed at anywhere between 50% and 75% but no, I didn't know.

The reason why it doesn't "fit my argument", is because you haven't even understood my argument. As I explained in English, which you seem to struggle with, my issue is with the rest which, by your analysis, is either 32% or 34% as you don't seem to be able to make up your mind. What grades did they get? Not enough to get into the Sixth Form Centre. Woefully inadequate I would suggest. Or do you think that's acceptable?

But let's face it, something doesn't quite stack up, unless I'm missing something obvious.

If the overall percentage of those getting the benchmark grades of GCSEs at the high schools is between 23% and 43% (is that correct?), then how come 66% or 68% of Sixth Form Centre students are from the high schools? What grades did they need to get into the Sixth Form Centre, which we are told is overflowing?

The two statistics don't seem to reconcile.



Apologies - I was being dim earlier. Brain was focused on too many other things.

So, 68% of the Sixth Form Centre came from the secondary/high schools. The other 32% of course came primarily from the Grammar School, with some from Blanchelande, and a few from Elizabeth and Ladies College. That seems logical, given the pupil numbers at Les Beaucamps, St Sampsons and La Mare combined, especially with some pupils going to the CoFE.

Those figures aren't a surprise really, but it doesn't tell us any numbers in absolute terms.

What would be far more relevant is the total number of students from each of La Mare, Beaucamps and St Sampsons, who left those schools at the end of Year 11 with such poor qualifications that further education was not an option open to them, and the resulting percentages. These are the pupils being especially let down by the poor teaching standards.

Maths Bystander


The two statistics could be entirely compatible.

If the bulk of pupils attend a high school (rather than Grammar or a college), but a smaller proportion of high school pupils go on to 6th Form Centre (because of their lower GCSE grades) they can still outnumber the students at the 6th form centre who came from Grammar (and presumably some from the Colleges).

Presumably many / most College pupils who go on to A'Levels will stay in a College thereby making the percentage of high school students at the 6th Form Centre higher.

It just comes out of the maths applied to the facts.


Has anybody considered actually speaking to any pupils to get their response to why their grades are not satisfactory? Comments and concerns voiced by students are generally ignored.