Will ESC’s plans raise standards? teachers ask

TEACHERS’ unions are calling on States members to consider if the planned changes to secondary education will ensure improvements in standards compared to the current system.

Teachers have reminded Education, Sport & Culture of the education development plan of 20 years ago which led to the building of St Sampson''s High School and the rebuilding of Les Beaucamps. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29747692)
Teachers have reminded Education, Sport & Culture of the education development plan of 20 years ago which led to the building of St Sampson''s High School and the rebuilding of Les Beaucamps. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29747692)

Ahead of next week’s debate on the plans, four teaching unions and the civil service union Prospect have written an open letter to deputies.

Concerns about a lack of detail regarding operational changes have already been raised by the unions in their response to Education, Sport & Culture’s proposed three 11-16 schools and a post-16 campus.

How the changes would impact on staff should have been worked out before looking at new models, said teacher representatives.

Doing this would have enabled ESC to take the workforce with them, and ensured a workable future.

The letter accepts ESC’s point that there was no ‘silver bullet’ solution and that there was no one model which would find support from the majority of staff.

But the wrong question was being asked, and staff would not be spending so much time debating different models were it not for the politics.

‘What they are more interested in is how well their schools are resourced and how they can best operate so that their students can maximise their potential as learners – in other words, the operational detail matters,’ said the unions.

Not enough time had been spent working on these issues with school staff, despite all the consultation and engagement that had taken place.

A theoretical model was fine if starting with a blank page, but any model would have to overcome the constraints of having schools in existence.

While policy making was traditionally from the top down – designing a strategy and implementing it – on this occasion the unions had always backed the idea of planning from the bottom up with operational matters being discussed with the staff.

The unions remind deputies of the education development programme launched some 20 years ago that led to the building of the new St Sampson’s High School and the rebuilding of Les Beaucamps.

‘However, while the narrative was changed, insufficient attention has been paid to true educational transformation.

‘So, where are we now? Sadly, stakeholder confidence in the current ESC has ebbed away following the publication of its recent policy letter.’

It does not have the staff support at Les Beaucamps or La Mare, and a majority of staff at the Les Varendes site are also opposed.

‘[It] appears to many staff as nothing more than a school closure dressed up as a three-school model, but with a new sixth form facility.’

A major concern is the lack of investment in 11-16 education ‘and a reorganisation of such funding that does exist to redress the imbalance between secondary and primary education – a cut by any other name’.

The unions would like to say they did not object to the proposals, but the lack of detail meant that all they could see were problems.

‘To those of you weary of the all the comings and goings, and keen to make a decision and move on, ask yourself if you are convinced that “action this day” will deliver the improvements necessary to ensure that educational outcomes are even equal to, let alone more favourable, than now?’

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