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‘Happy for more space in schools, if money is there’

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MORE space could be added to the new 11-18 comprehensive schools, as the politicians in charge of education make a determined bid to save the ‘one school on two sites’ model.

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Education, Sport & Culture wants to set up a debate soon after June’s general election on whether further space should be added to the new schools at Baubigny and Les Beaucamps.

The committee is submitting an amendment to the requete from Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen which asks for a ‘stop and review’ on the massive restructuring of schools.

A lack of space is the top concern of teachers, who have come out strongly against ESC’s proposed model.

The amendment is the committee’s attempt to respond to the representations from teachers, parents and the community, and give the States the opportunity to address those fears.

A well-supported march earlier this month brought to life the considerable disquiet there has been about the huge overhaul.

Last September, States members agreed to finance the two-school model to the tune of £69m., and, if successful, this amendment could potentially increase that figure.

Committee president Matt Fallaize said it has always been open to adding further space, if the States was prepared to fund it.

‘A further review of space set out in a policy letter will allow the committee to recommend how additional space could be utilised and the next States will have the final say.

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‘The committee will be directed to pay particular attention to space for sixth forms and recreation and one or two other elements raised by staff in schools.

‘If the States are prepared to invest more in education, of course we will welcome that, and it is certainly true that it would be better to spend money adding space to our new colleges than to throw away millions of pounds endlessly reviewing other models of education previously rejected, which is what the requete proposes to do.’

The vice-president of Education, Deputy Richard Graham, added that they have listened to the worries of teachers and members of the public.

‘These concerns are best addressed through further discussions with professionals and inviting the States to add to the space standards if they believe the case for doing so is well made.’

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As well as space, another aspect of the amendment is to focus on the day-to-day operation of Lisia School and its two colleges, especially the arrangements for lunch, the enrichment activities and the future staff structure.

These operational changes were being introduced iteratively, but following discussions with the unions, the committee has acknowledged that teachers need more reassurance, so those operational changes will be developed in ‘collaboration’ with staff.

The final wording of the amendment is due to be submitted ‘imminently’.

The requete and this amendment are planned for States debate at the end of this month after Policy & Resources was successful in moving the date, a move opposed by Deputy Fallaize.

Some politicians had predicted that the two school model was ‘dead’, but the thrust of the amendment could take the sting out of the requete and make the model more palatable to swaying deputies.

If the States vote for the amendment, instead of the requete, ESC argues that this will allow the current transition timetable to be maintained.

Also a debate in the early life of the next States term would be two years before the colleges have Year 12 students and three years before there are Year 13 students, allowing extra space to be added well before the colleges have reached full intake.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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