Guernsey Press

Education plans ‘held hostage by politicians’ as programme stays de-funded

Education was ‘held hostage by politicians’ yesterday, its committee president claimed last night.

Education president Andrea Dudley-Owen expressed her disgust at the 'politicking' of other deputies. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32743392)

Andrea Dudley-Owen expressed her disgust as four bids to find ways to fund the Transforming Education Programme – which includes a new post-16 campus at Les Ozouets – were defeated on the floor of the Assembly.

‘It’s absolutely calamitous,’ she said.

‘I can’t believe the politicking that’s gone on. I can’t believe that Deputy [Gavin] St Pier has abstained on his own amendment and Deputy [Heidi] Soulsby voted against her own amendment,’ she said of a proposal led by the former Policy & Resources president and seconded by the former P&R member.

Her amendment to support the Ozouets project through additional borrowing, but with no income stream to fund repayments, lost by 18 votes to 22.

A similar move from Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller, supported by an annual £5m. levy on companies, was also defeated by 16 votes to 24.

  • Listen to our Shorthand States round-up of Wednesday's debate

Moves from Deputy St Pier and Charles Parkinson, both effectively postponing a formal decision on a funding model, were also defeated.

Education backed the first reluctantly, but Deputy Dudley-Owen said that she had no enthusiasm for the second.

‘I don’t trust what Deputy Parkinson is saying for a second about not wanting to change the model,’ she said.

‘We’re in a really fluid situation here between a vote of no confidence and trying to get this vital infrastructure project over the line and all the while, senior States members are politicking. Education is being held hostage by politicians and it’s disgusting, because the future of our children, our economy and our community is at stake over this project.’

Deputy Dudley-Owen said voting patterns across the day suggested ‘silo thinking’ and some deputies prioritising their own positions above the needs of students.

Asked whether ESC had yet formulated an alternative plan for secondary and post-16 education since its preferred plan had been effectively de-funded due to the outcome of the Funding and Investment Plan, Deputy Dudley-Owen said 7,000 children would be ill-served by ‘coming up with a quick and dirty plan just because some members have difficulty with the delivery model’.

‘It’s not something you can do on the back of a fag packet,’ she said.

‘Certain deputies seem to have a very naive and misguided view that their figures are (a) correct and (b) their ideas are better than those worked up by professionals with education experience over many years.’

But she said she still had no regrets about bringing her ‘Pause and Review’ requete in February 2020, which stopped a previous model of one school on two sites from going ahead – because the previous plan had been subject to ‘a groundswell of discontent and concern’ and did not appear to be coming to fruition.

Read full States coverage in Thursday's paper