Chief minister calls for revolution in education ‘beyond the buildings’

A REVOLUTION that goes beyond buildings to make Guernsey a world leader in education rather than ‘just above average’ is needed.

A recent Chamber Lunch on 18 January with Chief Minister Peter Ferbrache. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29123856)
A recent Chamber Lunch on 18 January with Chief Minister Peter Ferbrache. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29123856)

Calling for action, Policy & Resources president Peter Ferbrache also said that islanders were entitled to know in the first half of 2021 what the education system would look like.

Secondary education run by the States has been a political hot potato for years and was a flashpoint during last year’s general election between supporters of the so-called two- and three-school models.

Speaking at a packed Guernsey Chamber of Commerce event, Deputy Ferbrache said: ‘Our greatest resource is people. We destroyed an education system without having a single idea as to what we’re going to end up with.

‘We’re still some years on from that and we haven’t achieved much. What we need in 2021 and beyond is an education system fit for purpose. I’ve every confidence in Deputy Dudley-Owen and I think she’ll be an excellent president of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture. But she needs your support.

‘It’s not just deciding whether one, two or three schools, and there’s still a body of States that want two schools, despite the overwhelming wish of the populace that there be three schools. We need to create the right educational environment. Just putting the same teachers doing the same stuff is not going to improve our educational system.’

Urging people to consider the report being overseen by former advocate and politician Peter Harwood, he also stressed the need for improving social mobility.

‘We need to encourage our students who are performing just above average compared to the UK and say to them: “That’s not good enough”, he continued.

‘So currently, we’re just above average in an education system that’s not fit for purpose. We need to do better, we need to be looking beyond mere buildings and technology, although those are important.

‘Also, the role of teachers is vital. Perhaps not the best person to quote, but what he said is true, Stalin said this: “Teachers are to be regarded as engineers of the soul”. Perhaps now quoting Stalin more appropriately: “We want a revolution”. We truly need to make an education system that’s world class, not just above average.’

Asked by the Guernsey Press when there might be clarity as to an education system, Deputy Ferbrache said he understood there would be proposals ‘very soon’ from the Education committee – which was at the moment ‘hidebound still with that States resolution about two schools – they’re looking at that’.

‘The public, don’t want that, 80 to 85% of the public don’t want it,’ he said.

‘So, I think their initial effort will be to get rid of that in the next few months, i.e. March or April. The people of Guernsey, the people of the Bailiwick, are entitled to know, I think, in the first half of this year what the education system is going to look like. But all it’s going to deal with, I’m not saying it’s unimportant to people at all, is the buildings and perhaps a little bit about the technology. And as I say, what I said in my little speech, was that it should be much more than that.’

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