States takes over a month to correct its online mistake

INCORRECT details about school admissions were published on the States Access to Public Information site for more than a month, despite it being made aware of the mistake.

A member of the public submitted the API request in mid-September, asking how many pupils had been entering each secondary school or college over the last five years.

They had wanted to find out the information quickly, as they felt it was material to the general election.

The response was published on 30 September, and included details of how many special placeholders there had been at the three private colleges before 2018, and then how many pupils from States schools had gone to the private schools in Year 7 in 2019 and 2020.

Ladies' College. (28914581)

However, fact checking by the Guernsey Press more than three weeks ago quickly showed the figures for how many pupils had gone from the States sector into the private sector were wrong and this was immediately flagged up to the States.

The correct information was only published last week.

‘The figures originally provided were generated after the question was misinterpreted, and were incorrect,’ a States of Guernsey spokesperson said.

‘Education apologises for this error, and for any confusion the figures may have caused. Steps have already been taken to ensure similar errors do not occur in the future and that appropriate checks are in place prior to any publication.’

The original question was: ‘Could you please provide the number of students entering Year 7 at each of the secondary schools (including the colleges) for each of the last five years, including 2020.’

Both Elizabeth College and Ladies’ College confirmed the previous information issued by the States was incorrect.

One obvious example was that it had listed that just one pupil had transferred from a States school to Ladies’ College in September 2019.

Ladies’ College has confirmed to the Guernsey Press there were actually 25.

It went on to state that it had 41 fee-paying students from State schools in September 2020, not 34 as the original States release stated.

Elizabeth College also raised concerns that the numbers were not right.

The new information published last week did not break down how many pupils had gone from States schools to the private colleges.

Instead it just gave the total number of pupils starting each school or college over the last five years, making it difficult to compare with the previous numbers issued.

The original release had said the department had been unable to get information of the private colleges’ admissions as it did not have access to their records.

Perhaps surprisingly the number of pupils joining the different States secondary schools over the last five years also changed between the releases, with numbers going up or down by a handful of people each year, when compared between the new and old releases.

This is despite the information coming from the Education department, which oversees the States school sector.

APIs were first introduced in Guernsey in July 2013, in a bid to promote a culture of openness and show a presumption of disclosure.

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