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Two-school curriculum ‘widens pupil choices’

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ANALYSIS of the existing curriculum breadth in Guernsey’s secondary schools has revealed that some subjects are marginalised and overall choice is limited and inequitable.

Following a request from the Guernsey Press, Education, Sport & Culture has released a table showing all the subjects currently being studied in Years 10 and 11 at the four secondary schools.

The results show the patchy nature of the current offering, and a squeezing out of some subjects such as languages and music.

For instance, GCSEs in Spanish and German are currently offered only at the Grammar School.

Music GCSE is available only at the Grammar School and St Sampson’s.

The table shows that modern technology subjects are particularly erratic in the current four-school model – computer science GCSE will be taken this year only at the Grammar School and St Sampson’s, and GCSE in ICT (information and communications technology) is only on offer at the Grammar School and La Mare de Carteret.

A GCSE in psychology is only possible at the Grammar School, and GCSE business studies is being taught only at the Grammar School and St Sampson’s.

What the table does not show is that curriculum breadth has two aspects – one is simply the number of subjects on offer, and the second is subject combinations and scheduling, which is much more complex.

KS4 qualifications table provided by ESC

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For example, science is delivered in a range of ways. The Grammar School has the gold-plated approach, but at St Sampson’s some students will complete Key Stage 4 with only a single science qualification.

Timetabling restrictions mean that a significant percentage of students cannot study their first choice combination of GCSE subjects.

A wider subject range and a greater proportion of students able to study their first choice combinations is at the cornerstone of the two-college model, and ESC has pointed at the table as proof of a lack of current parity and diminished opportunities.

It believes that young people should not be corralled into a narrow, one-size-fits-all approach; and students who struggle with the core, traditional subjects like chemistry and history, might excel at subjects like design and graphics.

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Deputy Matt Fallaize, the president of ESC, said the solution was bigger schools.

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‘The lack of parity across our schools is simply unacceptable and there is nothing we can do about it unless we press ahead with our current reforms to create larger year groups and larger schools with larger and more resilient teams of staff across all subjects.

‘Through no fault of the schools or their staff, we simply cannot offer the same breadth of curriculum at Key Stage 4 in small schools.

‘We effectively have a postcode lottery. It cannot be acceptable that a 15-year-old who lives in one part of the island has totally different opportunities at school to his or her counterpart in another part of the island who shares the same subject interests and aptitude.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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