‘Not enough time to consult teachers fully’

ANY consultation with teaching staff over secondary education plans can be little more than a one-way communication exercise, the former chief minister has warned.

Deputy Gavin St Pier posed questions on Education's consultation on its secondary education plans. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29379663)
Deputy Gavin St Pier posed questions on Education's consultation on its secondary education plans. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29379663)

Education has answered a series of official questions on what engagement has taken place so far, saying it is currently finalising the high-level priorities for which it has sought feedback from States members and head teachers/principals and education officers.

‘This strategy will benefit from engagement with the wider education sector during the summer term,’ president Andrea Dudley-Owen said.

Its preferred option is three 11-to-16 schools at St Sampson’s, Les Beaucamps and either La Mare or Les Varendes, and a sixth form co-located with the Guernsey Institute.

She said that the committee was happy with the consultation done by its predecessors. Now lockdown had eased, it was going to speak directly to staff.

Deputy Gavin St Pier had asked the questions.

‘The committee have confirmed what the NEU have already said, that there has not, so far, been any consultation with the teaching profession on the committee’s preferred four school solution for 11-18 secondary education,’ he said.

‘Particularly with the two-week school Easter break about to begin, time is now impossibly short for the promised “extensive consultation” with the profession before the committee publish their policy letter on 10 May.

‘In practice, this can be no more than effectively a one-way communication exercise, as there is just insufficient time to consult properly in a way that could shape the proposals.

‘All previous secondary education proposals have foundered when the details emerge – from space standards to class sizes, pupil-teacher ratios and curriculum options.

‘The proposed model, with a separate sixth form, will require further details around which teachers will teach in it. For example, will they be dedicated to that school or will they also be commuting to the teach in the three 11-16 schools?

‘The devil is in the detail and I am disappointed to learn that there has been no consultation on those details.’

Deputy Dudley-Owen has defended how the committee has gone about its work.

‘Given the extent to which the island’s second lockdown has hampered the committee’s ability to undertake in-person engagement with a number of stakeholder groups, the committee took the unusual decision to publicise its high-level policy direction with regard to reorganisation of secondary and post-16 education well in advance of the finalisation and publication of the policy letter setting out its policy direction in greater detail,’ she said.

‘It has done so to generate public and political discussion on this subject and to ensure that all those participating in its upcoming engagement sessions, details of which the committee will shortly be announcing (having regard to the Stage 3 requirements placed on large indoor gatherings), have had the benefit of foresight of its policy direction so as to maximise their participation during those sessions.’

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