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‘I will challenge staff to be the best they can be’

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A KEY new appointment at Education aims to raise the bar of expectations and make Guernsey’s education system the envy of the world.

Clare Sealy, head of curriculum and standards. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 25962741)

There has been controversy over the interview process since Clare Sealy was appointed as head of curriculum and standards, but she is leaving that simmering row to the politicians while she gets down to work.

Just over a month into her new job, Ms Sealy has been digging through the data and looking at where improvements are needed.

‘It sounds really obvious, but my aim is to help all the schools be the best they can possibly be, making sure they’ve got the best systems, the best staff they can possibly have.

‘I want to support and challenge, it’s definitely both, it’s definitely supporting, coaching, facilitating, but not in such a cosy way that it’s just a nice chat, but challenging in a really professional and open way.’

In 2017, a new curriculum was introduced in Bailiwick schools which moved away from a traditional style of teaching to a looser, skills-based model.

Amid figures showing that literacy levels are falling in the States schools, Ms Sealy is leading the conversation about what parts of the curriculum are working well and what needs to evolve.

She has studied education models around the world and is particularly impressed by Singapore, which pumped money into education and massively increased its GDP.

Instead of calling it a new direction, Ms Sealy said she was seeking a ‘deepening and strengthening’ where all the best bits of teaching are brought together.

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‘What teachers really value here is not being thrown in the bin, that’s not the intention at all.

‘All the stuff about critical thinking and creativity, which is absolutely at the heart of the Bailiwick curriculum, is staying at the heart of the curriculum.

‘It’s just that the evidence from numerous jurisdictions is that if you want children to think critically and be creative, you can’t teach that in the first instance, there’s a journey you need to go on and the critical thinking element comes a little bit later down the road.’

With the island moving towards the two-school comprehensive system, Ms Sealy said it was a big privilege and responsibility to have a job that will affect the futures of thousands of young people, and she was excited about being part of charting a course away from mediocrity.

NEW statistics have revealed the extent of falling literacy standards in primary schools and that an ‘unacceptably high proportion’ of pupils have levels of reading and writing that mean they will struggle with secondary education.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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