Guernsey Press

Chief Pleas rejects proposal to rent property in Guernsey to house students

SARK Chief Pleas has rejected a proposal for the island to rent property in Guernsey, which would have accommodated island children over 13 starting school in Guernsey.

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Chief Pleas and Senschal's Court. (31086077)

Eight of 11 constables present at the extraordinary meeting voted against the Education Committee’s proposal for a variety of reasons, including cost, staffing and how many children the property, to be known as ‘the Sark House’ could accommodate.

The island has struggled recently to find suitable accommodation for Sark children being schooled in Guernsey from the age of 13.

Chief Pleas decided in June 2019 that it would no longer educate island children past the age of 13, and that they should move to Guernsey, where they would be accommodated by host families.

Conseiller Frank Makepeace was one of those who voted in favour for the house.

He argued that Chief Pleas had a legal obligation to parents to provide accommodation to students, and that solely depending on term-time hosts was very unreliable.

‘It’s been quite clear that all the way through that as far as I’m concerned, every parent that has been spoken to about this has been undoubtedly convinced and sure that their children were going to go to a Sark House in Guernsey,’ he said.

But conseillers on the other side of the debate felt that the house would not be viable over time.

Helen Plummer was among those who voted against.

Although she said she felt for the parents and children, it would simply cost too much to secure a property.

‘The financial part of it all would absolutely wreck our finances over here – and it would continue to go on and on and on.’

It was also stated that staff members for the house had not yet been employed, and the house may not have been able to hold all future students if numbers grew in the future.

Chief Pleas will consider a new proposition when it meets next on 17 August, to consider what powers the Education Committee should continue to hold in relation to students aged over 13.

The Education Committee is now proposing that parents may arrange their own accommodation, in Guernsey, or at a UK or Jersey school, and Chief Pleas would make some funding available for each child.

Or they can use online learning and be home-schooled.

‘These education options have been selected as the most viable in the time available for the pupils due to leave Sark School in September 2022, and offer parents the widest possible choice,' it said.

‘The Education Committee, however, will continue to explore further options for 13-plus education for Sark children to find the most robust solution for the future, and will revert to Chief Pleas.'