Tempers fray as deputies struggle to make progress
TEMPERS boiled over in the States yesterday as members debated whether to ‘pause and review’ the two planned 11-18 schools, and at one point two deputies were overheard shouting loudly at each other outside the chamber.
Almost the whole day’s debate focused on an 11th hour amendment from Jonathan Le Tocq which asked for three 11-18 schools to be established.
That amendment was presented as an alternative to both the ‘pause and review’ requete and the two-school model.
Late in the day it was defeated by 25 votes to 11.
Deputy Le Tocq called his three-school model a compromise that offered equality of opportunity and a way to unite the divided island.
‘Let’s seek to work together to something that, whilst we might not each of us have proposed this to begin with, this is something we can agree to that is reasonable and we can take the majority of our community and, more importantly, the teaching profession with us.’
Requete proposer Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen called Deputy Le Tocq’s suggestion foolhardy and irresponsible.
‘I know that people feel the requete is a blunt instrument, and that it may be, but it is the only way that we will pull back the protocol of good governance into what we’re doing, because at the moment we are deviating so badly out of that protocol, and we are not just in danger of creating a crisis of confidence – we are in that position at the moment with our community. They do not trust us to make a decision that is well-judged and well-informed.’
One of the themes of the debate was criticism of States members making education policy on the floor of the House.
Some felt that States members had been foolhardy to back the two-school model in 2018 without sufficient evidence.
Many deputies warned against repeating that error and supporting the new three-school model, which had come ‘out of the blue’ on three sheets of A4 paper.
In a divisive day, the only cheers of ‘hear, hear’ consensus came when Education president Deputy Matt Fallaize said that present educational outcomes were ‘not good enough’ because they were only slightly above the UK average – and when the Deputy Bailiff proposed adjourning to Monday.
Deputy Barry Brehaut thought the simplicity of the ‘pause and review’ motion had a seductive appeal, but that it belied the reality which was ‘disrupt and delay’, and he had strong words for the requerants.
‘What the requerants have done essentially is picked up the biggest disruptive political boulder they could find, thrown it into the pond and said to everyone “hey, look at these ripples, where have these ripples come from”, oblivious to the fact selectively that they are the major cause of disruption.’
Deputy Jane Stephens, a former teacher, echoed that view that ‘pause and review’ was a policy void.
‘There is nothing offered in it as a practical way forward, nor is there anything offered in it that identifies costs.
‘Pause and review increases the risk of let’s return to selection at 11, and for me that is a red line.’
Earlier in the day, the senior committee, Policy & Resources, received a sound drubbing when its plan for two 11-16 schools and one 11-18 one was condemned and won only 10 votes.
The vice-president of Education, Deputy Richard Graham, fired off a broadside about that model.
He thought it was ‘the most grievous of all models’ and a ‘ridiculous charade of pretending’ that would leave two-thirds of pupils at a disadvantage.
The debate will resume on Monday, which is unprecedented during this political term.