'Nothing to fear but fear itself' said Education vice-president on school transformation

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AS TRANSFORMATION of the secondary education system looms, Education, Sport and Culture committee vice president said 'there is nothing to fear but fear itself.'

Vice-president of the Education, Sport and Culture committee Deputy Richard Graham. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 25592020)

In an open letter, Deputy Richard Graham said that to consider reversing the direction of travel now would be highly irresponsible and the worst possible disservice to those who learn and teach in island schools.

'Back in March 2016, the previous States resolved that, in future, secondary education in Guernsey would no longer be based on selection at the end of the primary phase.

'In the following month, I was elected to the current States and soon became one of the leaders of a campaign which essentially asked the question: before any changes are made, are we sure that we want to change to a comprehensive system for secondary education?'

Deputy Graham said both then and to this day he argues that there are examples in countries including Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands where selection at the end of primary school was conducted in a way that avoided negative aspects of the 11-Plus test and where provision of academic, technical and vocational education paths for students aged 12-18 proved its value.

'But that is water under the bridge now. The simple fact is that my supporters and I lost debate and the current States resolved, albeit narrowly, that the resolution of the previous States would stand.'

After this, Deputy Graham said he set himself to researching the key elements of the best all-ability secondary schools elsewhere to ensure Guernsey would reach the same standards.

He also said the pre-2019 secondary system had not been working well and although GCSE results of individual schools were high, when all the schools were aggregated, the percentage was in-line or only just above the UK average, which was modest by international standards.

He said successive States of Deliberation had resolved that Guernsey secondary school students would be educated in the best of non-selective schools.

'And that is precisely the process which is already well on its way with the first all-ability cohort of Year 7 students entering their secondary schools next month.

'Rather than having undergone some form of Damascene conversion on the road to the one-school-two-colleges model for which states members voted overwhelmingly some 18 months ago, I have simply come to the conclusion that the worst selective models and the worst comprehensive models are equally capable of wrecking the prospects of their students while the best selective schools and non-selective schools are equally able to ensure that all their students thrive.'

Charlotte Le

By Charlotte Le
News reporter

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