ESC two steps nearer secondary school plan

AN EXODUS of pupils from States’ schools into the private colleges was predicted if Education’s plans for secondary schools are approved by the Assembly this week, something which would mean 11-18 establishments were available only to the wealthy.

A determined Education, Sport & Culture president Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen saw two of the main obstacles to her committee’s secondary school plans voted out by the States yesterday.  (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29968222)
A determined Education, Sport & Culture president Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen saw two of the main obstacles to her committee’s secondary school plans voted out by the States yesterday. (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29968222)

However, Education, Sport & Culture overcame several hurdles yesterday towards achieving three 11-16 schools and a separate post-16 campus at Les Ozouets.

The indications are that its model will be approved after a bid by Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq for three 11-18 schools was defeated and another challenge by Deputy Gavin St Pier to send the committee back to start again was also lost.

Deputy Le Tocq argued that a substantial number of parents believed in 11-18 schools because of the evidence that they got better results.

‘If this option isn’t available they will vote with their feet and their pockets, and they will choose to send their children to private 11-18 establishments.

‘Those parents who can will choose to opt out and pay extra. They will go to the bank of granny and grandad, or they will do a second job, in order to educate their children in what they perceive will be the only other option in the private sector. That is my fear.’

Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller warned the island was heading towards a tertiary college, and what was before them was just a transition.

She thought an 11-18 setting was fundamentally better.

‘We’re giving no choice to people who cannot pay. Not everyone can afford to pay, so it’s only for the rich.’

A call to be ‘brave and bold’ came from Deputy Rob Prow, and he disputed there would be a a mass exodus to the private colleges because of the ‘affordability issue’.

ESC vice-president Deputy Bob Murray, called three 11-18 schools ‘the worst of all worlds’, because it would result in sixth forms that were too small.

He urged his colleagues to show vision.

‘Why is it that elevating the sixth form to its own position of prominence alongside our newly-awakened understanding of the true value of investing in further education and the vocational arena, is not so much more a step forward for Guernsey than trying to anchor it in the past to an inequitable post-selection single 11-18 school setting?’ he asked.

‘What is it that those who seem wedded to 11-18 feel that they are losing compared to what the island is gaining?’

During the subsequent debate on Deputy St Pier’s amendment, matters got very heated and Bailiff Richard McMahon warned that if allegations of dishonesty were made, it would incur his wrath.

Debate today will focus on whether to save La Mare de Carteret High School.

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