Deputies agreed by 23 votes to 16 to a new model of three 11-16 schools and a post-16 campus at Les Ozouets.
It means that La Mare de Carteret High School will close and the Sixth Form Centre at Les Varendes will be relocated.
After an often fractious debate, Education, Sport & Culture president Andrea Dudley-Owen said the new model provided stability and certainty for the future.
‘To now have a decision in this new term signals a really positive upward trend for this States, insofar as we mean to get on with the job of work that we’ve been set by the previous election.
‘That positive note is tinged with sadness because obviously the decision now marks the closure of one of our significant secondary schools.’
Connie Armstrong, district secretary for the National Education Union, observed the debate yesterday.
She was disappointed but not surprised by the outcome and said the union wanted to work constructively with ESC.
‘We need to know what change management support will be put in place. Particularly, I’m thinking of colleagues at La Mare de Carteret School and their pupils, and I’m thinking also of colleagues at the Sixth Form Centre, which will be disassembled.
‘There’s a lot of change ahead. It might not seem like it, but when you think about the detail, there’s a huge amount to go through, and what we’ve learned from previous experiences is that change needs to be managed very carefully.’
After 20 years of trying to agree on a new education model, some deputies heralded the day as setting a new path towards excellence. But for others, it was ‘a very sad day’.
Deputy Simon Vermeulen said they had been elected to make a decision.
‘We should be humbled and proud that we will be making a moment in history here today, setting the wheels in motion for generations to come to receive the best education Guernsey can offer.’
However, Deputy Charles Parkinson lamented the death knell for 11-18 schools in the States sector, and Deputy Aidan Matthews said ESC’s model achieved nothing and was the equivalent to setting fire to £40m.-worth of cash.
‘The stand-out change is to move a sixth form centre that we’ve already got and has already been built 16 years ago and at considerable expense, to move it half a mile down the road.’
One of the main themes of the debate was the mantra ‘just get it done’.
Deputy Yvonne Burford thought that stance was ‘shocking’ considering the longevity, importance and financial implications of the issue.
‘More than ever, there is an onus on us to get this right, rather than get it done.’