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Sark set to educate children on island only to age of 13

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SARK SCHOOL will not provide education for anyone aged over 13, if Chief Pleas agrees.

Sark School will educate children only until 13 if Chief Pleas agrees. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 23263284)

The Education Committee has been consulting on the proposal, which will go before the government’s next meeting.

‘While the public consultation gives no clear majority about the most significant question on what residents want the Sark government to do about provision for children taking GCSEs, those most directly affected (parents/carers and grandparents) responded with a clear majority in favour of children going to Guernsey,’ the committee’s report says.

‘From the comments on the questionnaires the significant concerns amongst those not in favour of children going to Guernsey seem to centre around the organisation of home education and the affordability of accommodation in Guernsey for low-income families.

‘The committee have discussed the results of the consultation and we still believe that the best option for the majority of Sark children is to go off-island for their GCSEs.

‘This will enable them to access a broader choice of subjects, be exposed to a wider peer group and have other opportunities that attending a larger secondary school could offer.’

Places would be arranged at either Les Beaucamps or Blanchelande College.

Of the 103 responses to the consultation, 47 either agreed or strongly agreed that Sark School should no longer provide education beyond age 13 and the recommended option should be for Sark children to go to Guernsey schools for Years 9, 10 and 11 to take their GCSEs.

Of those who identified themselves as parents or grandparents, 18 agreed or strongly agreed and nine said disagree or strongly disagree.

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‘Some of the concern around children whose parents/carers choose not to send them off-island in Year 9 seems to centre around whether their parents are qualified or able to home educate them.

‘The proposal has always been not that parents would be teaching them at home but that they would be using online GCSE courses which provide subject specific online tutors as well as the basic teaching materials.

‘The role of the parent/carer is to provide a suitable learning environment for the children, monitor the time they are spending on the courses and provide motivation and support, in other words to facilitate their learning rather than actually teach them.

‘The other area of concern is that parents’ paid employment might be affected by providing this type of support to their children.

‘As the majority of respondents to the questionnaire felt there should be some form of financial support to parents/carers who genuinely cannot afford this, the Education Committee has started exploring the possibility of some form of charitable funding for bursaries/grants or loans.’

The report will be debated on 16 January.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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