‘Back our plans or uncertainty will continue’
FAILURE to approve Education, Sport & Culture’s plans for the future of education will plunge it into uncertainty for years to come and see thousands of young people continuing to be schooled in facilities that would be seen as unacceptable in many communities far poorer than Guernsey, the committee has warned.
In an open letter published in the Guernsey Press today, president Matt Fallaize writes on behalf of the committee to address what it said was confusion about the investment in school and college buildings referred to in its policy letter on the future of Guernsey’s education system, which will be put before the States early next month.
ESC will ask for a total of £157m. to progress the work on its plans, of which £69m. is for the development of the two new colleges on the existing school sites at Baubigny and Les Beaucamps.
The letter gives a breakdown of how this figure was arrived at, adding that the remainder of the money ‘concerns much-needed improvement in digital infrastructure and services in schools and colleges and costs associated with transition to the new model of education’.
Much of the letter addresses the buildings currently being used and the need for them to be developed.
The committee said that the buildings currently used by the College of Further Education at Les Coutanchez were described as among the worst ever seen in the higher education sector by experienced advisors who examined them.
Despite improvements at La Mare de Carteret High and primary schools, the environment ‘is of a significantly lower quality than their peers in other schools’.
‘The Grammar School part of the building at Les Varendes is now 34 years old, albeit the Sixth Form Centre was opened in 2005,’ he said.
‘If it was to continue to be used as a school it would soon require significant investment of around £20m. Such works could only be carried out if the students were temporarily located to another site which would cause considerable disruption to the education of pupils as well as significant, but as yet unquantified, additional costs.’
ESC has tried to break what is described as an impasse in obtaining support for a major capital project and had worked with Policy & Resources to agree standards for the schools and colleges ahead of the debate.
This new approach needs to work. ‘Otherwise education will be plunged into further uncertainty for years to come and thousands of young people will continue to go to school or college in facilities which would be considered unacceptable in many communities far poorer than Guernsey.’
ESC added that, while the States were told that the cost of developing the Baubigny and Les Beaucamps sites would be about £100m, it is now estimated that it will cost between £63.6m. and £69m., while the cost of the new Guernsey Institute Building, for the combined College of FE, Institute of Health and Social Care Studies and the GTA, would be up to £47.5m. and not £67m. as initially thought.
Depending on whether the new La Mare de Carteret Primary School has a swimming pool and is two- or three-form entry, it will cost between £13.4m. and £22.4m.
‘If we do not invest in these improvements, far too many children and young people will continue to learn in a substandard environment and ongoing expenditure will be required to allow old buildings to remain open when they long ago ceased to be fit for purpose,’ says the committee.
‘We have provided substandard educational environments for too long.’
ESC open letter in full in the Voices section