The committee made a late intervention into the debate yesterday, circulating a report to States members giving more details on why it planned to trial the school’s closure and why it was attempting to amend a requete from Deputy David De Lisle which calls for the committee to reverse its decision.
ESC’s amendment offers the States three options, but only the first, which calls for the formation of a working group to oversee the one-year trial period during which primary-school aged children living in Herm will travel to Guernsey, is supported by the committee itself.
Both the requete and the amendment should be debated in the States this week.
According to ESC’s report, Herm School’s current predicted learner population would fall to just two by September 2025, having been as high as 10 in 2019.
This, the report stated, has led to experienced senior educationalists, including director of education Nick Hynes and Herm teacher Mary Carey, to raise concerns about the ability to deliver the education necessary across a broad age range with low numbers.
Other reasons for closing the school detailed in the report include ESC’s concerns regarding the quality of education being received by pupils. It was criticised during the inspection of Vauvert Primary School in 2019, of which Herm School is a ‘remote classroom’.
The inspection report said that the classroom was cluttered and did not provide an environment which was conducive to high quality learning.
Safeguarding issues were also raised, with the report stating that Herm’s classroom did not currently meet modern safeguarding standards, which included the need for at least two full-time teachers if the school had pupils in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Traditionally, only one full-time teacher has been employed at the school and covered teaching for both age groups.
ESC also noted that there were several barriers in the way of learners receiving the same curriculum as their peers in Guernsey due to the nature of Herm’s education setting – a small building comprising a single classroom, toilet facilities and a small outdoor play area. It listed several barriers to ambition, breadth, diversity, creativity, and enrichment.
Previously, primary-aged Herm pupils travelled to Guernsey one day a week to attend Vauvert, and ESC’s report stated that the one-year pilot was the only option that would ensure the quality of education offered to them.
‘The risk assessments that are carried out before any school trip takes place suggest that Herm-based children are very used to taking the ferry to Guernsey beyond the trips required for schooling,’ it said.