Two-school model offers the best student outcomes
WHY would someone who would have still preferred a full post-16 tertiary model for Guernsey now decided to support the two-school model with the inevitable post-16 split between academic A levels/IB and vocational qualifications?
Here are my reasons:
1. The ‘gang of four’ deputies or, as I prefer to call them, the unofficial
Shadow Committee for Education, Sport & Culture (namely deputies Matt Fallaize, Richard Graham, Rhian Tooley and Mark Dorey) are: open, honest, trustworthy, act professionally, listen to people, don’t use scaremongering tactics and recognise the importance of keeping all vocational programmes together in one institution. Their alternative plan will keep the College of FE together in one piece with a professional group of tutors capable of delivering vocational programmes across the board including T-levels, BTecs, apprenticeships and numerous professional qualifications, with the possibility of the college eventually gaining a ‘genuine’ university status.
2. They recognise that, particularly with the introduction of the new T-levels, there will be a gradual increase in numbers of young adult learners aged 16-19 choosing the various vocational routes in preference to the traditional academic routes.
They recognise that our technological world is rapidly changing and that employer-led qualifications, like the new T-levels and apprenticeships, must have the provision made available on island to deliver them.
3. The Shadow Committee for Education, Sport & Culture also appear to be happy for a new College of FE to deliver adult English and mathematics A-level classes to those who didn’t have or take the opportunity when they were younger. Again, this is their recognition of the diverse range of talented tutors available at the College of FE.
4. I still believe that if secondary school leavers are genuinely given impartial advice and then allowed to make their own choices, they will increasingly choose the vocational route to university over the academic route, especially when there is a new, purpose-built college all on one site.
It is therefore essential that any new College of FE must be built with a vision for future expansion.
5. A full tertiary college would have put all post-16 Level 3 students in one institution and so help draw parity of esteem between the academic and vocational routes to university.
This option is not on the table, but that is not going to stop this long overdue parity of esteem from happening.
In fact, there has long been increasing evidence that the vocational route, with an appropriate vocational degree, improves employability and financial rewards.
Yes, I believe that there are but a few old academicians of this world, including in Guernsey, who are finally climbing down from their ivory academic towers to recognise that they are walking upright with the rest of us in this highly technologically changing landscape.
So what of the current Committee for Education, Sport & Culture’s proposals, I hear you ask?
Well they appear to be making our post-16 provision into one big sixth form centre with an academic sixth form culture where classes run to the sound of the bell. (Is this still an appropriate, modern way to prepare our young adults for university and/or work?)
It is true that they plan to bolt on all of the full-time vocational courses too and think that this, in theory at least, is going to work.
I’m sure that it all seems quite academic to them, but I think that they will run into problems when it comes to the practicalities of the situation.
Their proposal also, critically, splits the current College of FE between their sixth form college and their so-called training college/labelled university.
It is my view that the alternative two-school model gives the opportunity for the best educational outcomes to be achieved by Guernsey’s students – and that surely should be the most important thing of all.
I would therefore urge all deputies to vote for the two-school model and ask them not to be sidetracked by any non-educational issues.
St Sampson’s parishioner.