Teaching unions welcome delay for secondary engagement

THE island’s two main teaching unions are appreciative of the additional time for ‘meaningful engagement’ with Education, but are still keen to see proposals before they can make any judgements.

NASUWT national negotiating officer Wayne Bates. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29403844)
NASUWT national negotiating officer Wayne Bates. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29403844)

Both the National Education Union and NASUWT want to hear more about the committee’s secondary education plans.

They have said pushing back the publication of proposals from the 10 to 28 May to allow for engagement with staff is a welcome development and hope this will help with that.

NASUWT national negotiating official Wayne Bates said teachers were pleased to be involved.

‘The original plans were far too rushed and trying to do it close to the holiday period when schools aren’t open was problematic,’ he said.

‘Teachers are relieved that they have been given extra time for additional meaningful engagement.

‘Over the last seven years the whole process has been marred by poor consultation and engagement and anything Education does to improve that is welcome.’

Education had been criticised for a lack of consultation by the NEU, which has concerns around class sizes, curriculum breadth, and the quality of facilities.

NASUWT echoed these, adding that it also hoped for more assurance on jobs.

The delay means the first stage of engagement to discuss these concerns will be after the Easter break.

There will be separate sessions, led by independent facilitator Phil Eyre, with staff from the secondary and special schools, The Guernsey Institute and then their leaders.

It will be followed by a presentation in May, open to all secondary and TGI staff, which will outline the contents of its policy letter and explain its recommendations.

There will also be public presentations, one of which will be live-streamed.

Mr Bates said the hope was that the union would have an opportunity to view Education’s recommendations before the policy letter was published – something which the committee has said it would look to achieve – and be involved in further meaningful consultation as it develops.

‘I would hope that any engagement, any feedback they would get from that initial engagement, would be taken on board,’ he said.

‘Once the proposals have been finalised there is still an incredible amount of work left and that is when the real detailed consultation will need to take place with both trade unions and the workforce more generally.’

NEU Guernsey spokesman Sean McManus agreed.

‘If a delay leads to a more meaningful involvement of key stakeholders then that’s a price worth paying,’ he said.

‘But we’re not in a position to make that judgement until we see the content of what they mean, to actually engage with.’

The union has raised concerns about how meaningful any engagement would be.

‘The implication is the policy letter, which must be virtually drafted by now, is going to somehow be able to be amended to reflect what the stakeholders have provided them with,’ said Mr McManus.

‘It is not exactly clear to us how this will be, so far we’re open-minded at this stage but without the detail it is very difficult for us to make a critical and informed evaluation without the facts.’

Education announced the original review publication date when it released an overview of its preferred way forward on 8 March, the same day schools went back as lockdown eased.

This would have seen two phases of further engagement with staff, however, the pandemic and the States debating the Government Work Plan resulted in the policy letter being delayed.

Education believes the delay will enable it to again have the chance to ‘run an intensive period of engagement with staff’.

Its preferred option, said to be informed by consultation with staff and others in the last half of 2020, 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.

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