‘Illogical to continue with unviable two school model’

IT WOULD be illogical for the ‘unviable’ two-school model to continue being considered, says the president of Education, Sport & Culture.

Education, Sport & Culture president Andrea Dudley-Owen. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29229756)
Education, Sport & Culture president Andrea Dudley-Owen. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29229756)

The committee will be asking the States to approve the rescinding of resolutions that include compelling it to look at the model in comparison with other options for secondary education.

Committee president Andrea Dudley-Owen said that although no work started by the previous committee would be wasted, its favoured two-school model would no longer be part of its considerations.

‘The committee recognise that the two-school model has been roundly rejected by both the profession and the wider community,’ she said.

‘On that basis it is completely undeliverable and is not therefore a viable option. It is illogical for it to remain on the table as an option that could feasibly be delivered. Our committee is only interested in looking forward, at viable options, not looking back.

‘The tighter financial circumstances due to the pandemic must also form part of the considerations,’ she said.

‘While these tighter financial constraints will not control our plans, they will naturally need to be reflected in them.’

But financial concerns were not the reason they were seeking to rescind the former resolutions.

‘We are doing so because the committee quite rightly wants to have the opportunity to fully own the work it has been elected to lead without being impeded by previous States resolutions directing it to look at options that are simply not viable.’

Education unions have given a mixed reception to the announcement.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said its members had significant concerns over the one school/two sites model: ‘Thus we would broadly welcome this decision. We failed to understand the rationale for benchmarking new models against a model that doesn’t exist, rather than current provision, and therefore this change is also to be welcomed.’

He said the committee’s proposed focus on addressing deficiencies in the current provision was positive and that the union had maintained throughout the process that the model for education should be agreed before the physical environment was adapted or built to meet the requirements identified. ‘The previous committee’s buildings-first, education-second approach was always of deep concern,’ said Dr Roach.

The National Education Union gave a more reserved response, with a spokesperson saying it had asked Deputy Dudley-Owen for reassurances on several issues, including the protection of class sizes, the quality and breadth of the curriculum for secondary education, the quality of the specialist facilities and special needs education to be provided, a review of the education law, the protection of employment status for staff and the effective provision of further education via the Guernsey Institute.

‘To date, such reassurances have not been forthcoming,’ said the spokesperson.

‘Along with others in our community, NEU members are still awaiting “new” secondary education proposals from the current ESC.

‘The union will scrutinise whatever is released, giving close attention to detail in the expected consultation period, but is conscious that time is an issue and would not expect those consultations to be cursory.

‘Although Deputy Dudley-Owen’s recent remarks about “clearing the decks” appear designed to avoid potentially unfavourable cost comparisons with the former Committee’s (two school ) model, the NEU notes that ES&C’s Policy and Resources minders are likely to bear down upon capital and revenue expenditure and the union shares broader local concerns about any political attempts to use the Covid-related financial situation to justify outcomes which might be seen to have sub-optimum consequences for the effective delivery of education in the years ahead.

The spokesperson said that the contents of the ESC’s policy letter will be judged against the issues it has highlighted: ‘Irrespective of the number of secondary schools proposed, the NEU will seek to protect the quality of educational provision that our island’s economy and well-being is likely to depend upon in the years ahead.’

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