ESC responds to concerns from educationalists
The Education committee has hit back at concerns from educationalists over its plans to overhaul the island's secondary school system.
Some 57 educationalists expressed concerns about Education's 'flawed' two-school model in a letter - but the committee responded saying the suggested alternative would lead to massive inequality in opportunities for students.
The Committee for Education, Sport and Culture has set out its response in an open letter. It has been sent to those involved in the letter, while representatives of the committee and office have offered to meet as many of the letter authors as possible before the next States meeting to discuss the points raised.
Education's response said the model proposed by the authors would lead to massive inequality of provision and opportunity, and greater disruption to students at similar cost with fewer educational benefits.
'In recent days some retired educationalists have proposed that the States should change course and that instead there should be one 11-18 school of around 1,300 students and two 11-16 schools of around 800 students.
'This model would fail to provide many of the educational benefits of the model agreed by the States.'
The response said the greatest issue with the educationalists' suggestion was that young people's opportunities would depend on where in the island their parents lived.
'The authors of the letter say they want schools of no more than 1,000 students, but their proposed model would have approximately 1,300 students at Les Varendes, similar to the number of students in the two colleges agreed by the States.'
Educationalists had also overlooked that the current Sixth Form Centre is a school sixth form, run as a single organisation with an 11-18 school, said ESC.
'Students at 11-18 schools have substantial advantages, including when they are in the 11-16 phase of the school.'
This included better recruitment of teachers, better long-term curriculum planning for teachers and older students making a contribution to the experiences of the younger ones.
'The authors of the letter recommend that a third of 11-16-year-olds should benefit from these advantages, along with those in the grant-aided colleges, while the other two-thirds should be denied them based on where in the island their parents live.
'It would be staggering to spend tens of millions in order to introduce such new inequality of opportunity.'
The model suggested by the educationalists would require significant capital expenditure to re-purpose and refurbish existing buildings and to ensure equality of provision of facilities, said ESC, up to the standard proposed in the one school / two colleges model.
This would include spending at least £20m. on work to the Grammar School building, which was needed if it would continue to be used as a school.
'The total capital costs of the model suggested by the authors would likely be in excess of £60m. compared to £63.6-69m. under the committee's plans with a further £4m. allocated to colocation.
'Their model would cause substantial disruption to the students at the Grammar School. Most, if not all, of them would need to be moved out in order for the necessary work to be completed before some of them were moved back in later.'
Education added: 'In addition, the Committee's plans free up Les Varendes site for disposal, or better still potentially to be used as a community hub, whereas the plans of the authors of the letter do not.'