Herm School closure to be reviewed during trial

HERM School’s closure will be reviewed each term over the next academic year and there is still a chance that it could be reopened, depending on feedback.

Director of education Nick Hynes. (32148945)
Director of education Nick Hynes. (32148945)

The challenge of teaching a small number of pupils across a range of year groups was a major factor in the Education, Sport & Culture committee’s decision to close the school.

It is to close for the next academic year on a one-year trial basis, with its four pupils being sent to Vauvert Primary School, where they currently spend one day a week.

The move will save between £60,00 and £85,000, but Education said the main reason for the move was to support pupils’ social integration and prepare them for secondary school.

Education director Nick Hynes said the task of educating the four pupils at the school was challenging for teacher Mary Carey due to the fact that their age ranges spanned three different year groups.

‘Currently there are pupils in Years 3, 4 and 5, so essentially Mrs Carey is having to provide bespoke teaching arrangements across nine or 10 different subjects,’ he said.

‘We want to be able to offer the pupils a broad and balanced schooling experience both academically and socially, and feel that this will be more effectively achieved in Guernsey.’

He added that Mrs Carey had been fantastic, both in recent months and over the entirety of her 18-year tenure as teacher at the school.

‘We have kept in touch with her on an annual basis,’ he said.

‘I’m sure she is sad to see the school close but she recognises the challenges of keeping it open.’

He also confirmed that she would be offered a number of roles within Education in due course.

Mr Hynes said that discussions regarding the school’s closure had started to take place with the island’s management team at the start of the year, and parents were informed on Tuesday. He said that the general feeling among parents was one of disappointment, but added that they understood why the decision had been made.

He added that the closure would be reviewed on a termly basis over the course of the next academic year, and whether or not the school would reopen would be dependent on the feedback the committee received from stakeholders.

‘We will talk to teachers about how they feel it has been working for the pupils involved, and what arrangements need to be made.’

He confirmed that the school would not reopen under any circumstances, such as adverse weather for days on end, for the whole of the trial period.

‘The building falls under the remit of States Property Unit, so it is up to them if it gets used for anything else.’

According to Herm’s official website, a high standard of education is achieved at the school due to an excellent teacher and low number of children, which has historically ranged between four and 12. They are taught between four and 11 years old.

However, according to an inspection of Vauvert School in 2019, it was noted that Herm’s school classroom was said to be cluttered and did not provide an environment which was conducive to high-quality learning.

The report also said that there were too few rich play and activity contexts for younger children.

Herm Island’s management team declined to comment when contacted by the Guernsey Press.

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