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Education needs public backing

Guernsey Press Comment | Published:

IF EDUCATION was hoping the intervention of senior head teachers was going to shift the dial in the schools debate they will have found little comfort in the immediate reaction.

The one-sided reaction will be very concerning for supporters of the ‘one school over two sites’ model as they look increasingly isolated.

We have had unpopular decisions made by government before, and there will never be universal acceptance, but we are no longer in an age where the States can dictate change to a muted population.

There has to be a degree of buy-in and that is not yet evident in the public debate.

ESC may have believed it was simply in an implementation phase and the debate was over – it is not.

The aim is to have an education system that delivers results that outperform comparable regions.

But given that there is a contradiction when senior educationalists argue that local teachers here have got used to too much space and then rely on national comparisons to justify plans for the facilities in the new schools.

Public support would be greater if ESC won over the unions – it is their intervention late last year, allied to the traffic impact assessment spelling out what it all means for residents living near St Sampson’s and Les Beaucamps and parents getting their children to school, that has shifted the debate.

But the committee seems almost resigned to not getting the unions on side and its answer to traffic is mostly about waiting.

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Yesterday ESC president Matt Fallaize was getting tough in suggesting it would cost tens of millions of pounds more to meet the teachers’ expectations and that would be unpalatable for the States.

With the election in June this issue is potentially toxic, but the lack of political backing from outside of ESC at this stage is also proving critical.

Where is Policy & Resources to say this is the right amount of money producing the right solution? Where is Environment & Infrastructure to back the traffic management?

This is evolving into a people versus the government issue, and that is unsustainable for a change of such magnitude.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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