La Mare is back in the spotlight at meeting

A PLEDGE was made to the La Mare de Carteret community last night that the school will ‘not be allowed to drift’ in the run up to its planned closure in three years time.

La Mare de Carteret High School. (Picture by Guernsey Press, 29599710)
La Mare de Carteret High School. (Picture by Guernsey Press, 29599710)

In Education, Sport & Culture’s second public meeting to present its three-school model, several teachers from La Mare sounded disappointed and let down by the recent announcement.

One mother with children in Year 7 and Year 5 asked how the committee was going to retain staff at the school.

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen promised that everything possible would be done to help the La Mare teachers through a difficult period.

‘We’re going to continue close engagement with staff and the headteacher because we cannot allow that school to just drift in this period, we won’t do that because the school is excellent, and we want to ensure that those teachers and students are as well supported during the changes as possible,' she said.

‘We will ensure that they continue to have access to professional development, and we will listen to what they need.’

Teachers from La Mare highlighted that their school had not been chosen as a location for the public meetings even though they were the ones most affected.

Deputy Dudley-Owen responded that the choice of sites was not intended as a slight to La Mare, but was just down to availability and logistics.

Empty chairs in the Grammar School hall were one of the features of last night’s meeting, with another sparse audience of about 30.

Asked whether this meant that people were ‘extremely happy’ with the proposals, or that the communications strategy was ‘flawed’, Deputy Dudley-Owen said she detected a mood of ‘we just want you to get on with it’.

If she was not a politician she said she would have gone to the beach last night, because she would have felt ‘over it’.

Deputy Bob Murray, the vice-president of ESC, said ‘people are tired’.

The questions from the audience revealed a broad spectrum of views.

ESC was accused of being ‘insensitive’ and ‘disingenous’, while others applauded the committee, said the plan was ambitious and that Deputy Dudley-Owen ‘had energy and guts’.

One person, who said he was impressed with the presentation, wanted confirmation that the new sixth form campus would be ready by September 2024.

Deputy Murray replied that construction on the island was ‘red hot’ and that could be a challenge.

‘What we’re also exploring is off-island modular build so it could be built off-island and then be assembled, as far as possible, within the island, because we know that the construction industry is chocka.’

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