Guernsey Press

'Soon time to stop funding the colleges'

POLICY & RESOURCES president Peter Ferbrache has called for the States to withdraw funding from the grant-aided colleges.

(Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32374473)

He said the end of the 11-plus and pressure on States finances should mean Elizabeth College, The Ladies’ College and Blanchelande receiving no more public money after the current deal ends in 2026.

Last year they received a total of just over £3.5m. from the States, down from nearly £3.8m. the year before. 15 years ago they were receiving nearly £5m. a year.

‘My own view is that I voted for them to have their independence, like they wanted, but it has to come with a recognition that when the current funding deal comes to an end, they will need to stand on their own two feet financially,’ said Deputy Ferbrache.

Until 2019 the States paid for 52 students a year at the colleges through the 11-plus. The last of those special place holders will leave in 2025.

Deputy Ferbrache argued that the withdrawal of the special places scheme, a move which he strongly opposed, was a ‘game-changer’ in the States’ relationship with the colleges.

‘I know some will say they educate 30% of secondary schoolchildren and the taxpayer is getting a good deal, but the colleges are still receiving millions of pounds of public money a year, and we have to be realistic about where we are,’ he said.

‘These are my own views. P&R may agree or they may disagree. We haven’t discussed it.’

The colleges’ current funding deal started in 2019, two years after it was agreed by the States. If the same timeline is followed, there will be a States debate on colleges’ funding next summer.

The Education, Sport & Culture Committee and the colleges remained tight-lipped when asked to respond to Deputy Ferbrache’s comments.

ESC vice-president Deputy Sam Haskins said that the committee was in confidential discussions with the colleges.

The Very Rev. Tim Barker, Caroline Chan and Trevor Wakefield, who chair the boards of Elizabeth College, Ladies’ College and Blanchelande respectively, released a joint statement, welcoming the talks ‘about our future working relationship’, but declined to comment further.