Secondary teachers prefer schools with up to 800 pupils

SMALL secondary schools with up to 800 pupils and a sixth form on one site have emerged as the preferences among teaching staff, as the island considers the next steps in the transformation of education.

Education’s secondary education plans, which the States ordered it to review, would have led to an expansion of St Sampson’s High School (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28502550)
Education’s secondary education plans, which the States ordered it to review, would have led to an expansion of St Sampson’s High School (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28502550)

A survey of secondary school staff they gave a clear indication that they were against the idea of mega schools and wanted a more community-based system with only five or six forms of entry.

In total 179 teachers and support staff from the four secondary schools completed the questionnaire, and the collated results reveal a large amount of data.

There was strong support for keeping the sixth form on one site, and the idea of having a sixth form on a separate site to 11-16 students was more popular than an integrated sixth form.

Teachers and support staff highlighted more space for special needs pupils as the top priority for capital expenditure, followed by parking for all staff, a grass field, and indoor social spaces for students.

A second multi-use games area, a swimming pool and increased library space were given bottom rankings in the list of facilities.

With regard to annual expenditure, maintaining or reducing class sizes was the biggest concern, followed by support for special needs pupils, and retaining at least the current range of options at sixth form.

Small tutor groups, changes to lunchtime payments, and increasing the size of subject teams did not rank highly in the list of revenue priorities.

There was widespread agreement with the main principles that underpin the need for transformation, including providing the same standards of facilities to students on all sites, giving similar curriculum options and

extra-curricular opportunities to all, ensuring each site has a similar number of students, and the use of a primary school feeder model.

In March, the States agreed to ‘pause and review’ the creation of two large 11-18 comprehensive colleges at Baubigny and Les Beaucamps.

Strongly-worded letters from the teachers drove a nail into the coffin of that two-school model, and Education, Sport & Culture was told to go away and draw up plans for other models so that they could be compared properly in the round.

ESC has promised that is has dropped its former evangelical approach to the two-school model, and is looking at other set-ups with an open mind.

Crucial to the investigations is the feedback of the teaching staff, and the committee wants to hold fortnightly meetings with the unions throughout the review.

ESC president Deputy Matt Fallaize thanked staff for taking the time to fill out the survey.

‘The surveys have captured the views of staff about the relative importance of different priorities for the future structure of secondary education.

‘This information will influence the technical analysis of the four models which are being reviewed.’

Primary staff agree, but not those at the institute

A SURVEY of primary school staff has revealed growing support for small, nurturing secondary schools with up to 800 pupils.

The primary school staff echoed the same wishes as their secondary school colleagues, and have come out against the idea of mega schools.

Only staff at the Guernsey Institute seemed comfortable with the concept of larger schools.

In total 84 primary school staff took part in the survey, and 26 from the institute.

A recurring theme in the responses to all the surveys was the importance of special needs education, and improving the space and support available for these students.

Enhanced special needs areas, a grass field, good-sized classrooms, indoor social spaces, and a communication and autism base were identified by primary teachers as the top priorities for the new secondary schools.

Extra multi-use games areas, better library space and a swimming pool were at the bottom of their priorities list.

On annual revenue expenditure, the key preferences were small class sizes, improved pastoral care, better support for special needs pupils, and a broad curriculum at GCSE level.

Bottom of that list were smaller tutor groups and a broad range of options at A-level.

The majority of primary school staff thought that the sixth form should be kept together on one site, but they also thought that there should be equality of access and that students should not have to travel to their sixth form studies.

Guernsey Institute staff highlighted enhanced special needs areas as the top priority for capital investment, followed by good-sized classrooms, indoor social spaces and a grass field.

They wanted annual revenue focused on small class sizes, improved pastoral care, better support for special needs pupils and a broad curriculum at GCSE level.

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