Teachers accuse Education of ignoring their feedback

EDUCATION has been accused of ignoring teachers’ views on its chosen secondary school model.

Guernsey Grammar School and sixth form centre. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29638838)
Guernsey Grammar School and sixth form centre. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29638838)

In a series of feedback meetings with teachers at each secondary school and the Guernsey Institute, the committee heard many negative responses from staff.

Typed notes made at the feedback session with Grammar School staff have been leaked to the Guernsey Press and show that some teachers at the Les Varendes campus were strongly against many of Education’s initiatives within its preferred model.

In response, Education president Andrea Dudley-Owen said she could understand that teachers were concerned, and the meetings were aimed at getting feedback from staff.

Deputy Dudley-Owen and committee member Bob Murray met the 24 Grammar School teachers on 27 April in what was described as a heated meeting.

Deputy Dudley-Owen was noted in the meeting as saying the information received from the staff survey and previous committees’ engagement workshops last year was used to shape the decisions made on the preferred model. But Grammar staff accused the committee of not listening to them, with feedback provided and the current proposals not connecting.

Recruiting and retaining quality staff, timetabling difficulties, pastoral care degradation, decreasing teaching standards and reduced curriculum choices were all complaints Grammar School teachers put forward.

According to the leaked notes, the figures generated from last year’s staff survey showed 80% of the school’s teaching staff did not believe increasing class sizes to 24 – later revised to 28 – would be desirable, yet bigger class sizes were now on the table.

Teachers felt the proposed model would not result in an equitable system of education and, as a result, staff would move from the States of Guernsey to the private colleges.

The separate sixth form came in for some particularly pointed criticism, with teachers questioning why a new sixth form was being built when there was one already at Les Varendes.

They suggested that staffing it effectively would be impossible, as there were not enough students to solely teach at KS5/sixth form and teachers would be forced to teach subjects outside their specialisms.

Education is proposing having secondary schools at Les Varendes, Les Beaucamps and St Sampson’s High, along with the Guernsey Institute and a new sixth form centre at Les Ozouets.

Education committee member, Deputy Andy Cameron, who withdrew his approval for the committee’s preferred model last week, admitted that the backlash from the teaching staff at each school was one of the reasons he stopped supporting ESC’s preferred model.

‘I will be issuing either a minority report or an amendment possibly next week.’

Deputy Dudley-Owen said the current model was not sustainable and change was inevitable.

She said the purpose of these sessions, attended by independent facilitator Phil Eyre and Advocate Peter Harwood as an independent observer and by a union representative, was to explain the proposed changes and the rationale behind them and to give staff the opportunity to provide feedback and raise concerns.

‘We fully understand why some staff might be feeling concerned about the prospect of change, that is a natural part of the process of any significant change.’

She said Education was in the process of compiling the feedback into one document, which would then be independently verified before being shared first with the staff who attended the sessions before wider circulation.

The committee is planning further engagement sessions and people working for Education are visiting all four schools every fortnight until the end of term to answer queries.

‘We are keen to ensure staff in each school setting get the support they need to adapt to whatever changes the States resolves to introduce and we will continue our engagement with school staff directly, rather than via the media.’

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