Deputy Marc Leadbeater wants to save La Mare, and the sixth form at Les Varendes, because he said they were ‘the two greatest assets’ in the current education set up. He fears a loss of culture and sense of community if the plans from Education, Sport & Culture are agreed by the States next month.
He is proposing an amendment, with the support of Deputy David De Lisle, to ESC’s proposals, intending to keep 11-16 schools at La Mare, Les Beaucamps and St Sampson’s.
The Sixth Form Centre would stay at Les Varendes, and the Guernsey Institute would continue to be developed at Les Ozouets.
‘The tone running through the policy letter from ESC is the new schools will need to create their own culture and identity, so if we’re doing that why don’t we use our best comprehensive school that we already have, the best performing, the one that has an excellent track record for dealing with vulnerable children, why would we tear that school down?’ said Deputy Leadbeater.
‘We’re trying to build culture and identity, and that school’s got it in abundance.’
Education, Sport & Culture has earmarked La Mare for closure because pupil numbers across the island are falling, and in comparison with Les Varendes it would cost an extra £30m. to rebuild.
Deputy Leadbeater said he was not convinced by that argument, and that teachers had poured their hearts into the school to make it something much more than buildings.
Ten years ago the school was regarded as failing and was strongly criticised by independent inspectors, but since then Deputy Leadbeater said the teachers had brought about a remarkable turnaround.
‘The teachers are a passionate bunch. I went to La Mare de Carteret myself and I left in around 1985, and the culture and identity that La Mare de Carteret has created over those years wasn’t there when I was there. It’s taken them a long time to build this, and it’s something that you can’t just replicate overnight. You can’t buy it, you can’t put a cost on it, and it would be madness to take that away.’
Under Deputy Leadbeater’s vision, the Sixth Form Centre would be unlikely to take over the entire Les Varendes site, and he suggested the remainder could be used for other educational purposes such as a distance learning facility, a community health hub, or even a new Police headquarters.
A Scrutiny Management Committee hearing earlier this week heard that the current police station could not meet modern standards.
ESC is proposing having 11-16 schools at Les Varendes, Les Beaucamps and St Sampson’s, while sixth form and the Guernsey Institute would move to Les Ozouets.
Several more amendments are anticipated to ESC’s policy letter before July’s debate, with Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq proposing three 11-18 schools.
Comment, page 16