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Staffing at St Sampson's High

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Thursday 22 December 2022

The following two statements are in response to a Guernsey Press article which was published on the 21st December regarding staffing at St Sampson's High.

Statement from Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture:

'The framing of the front page of today's Guernsey Press is very disappointing. The front page article does not paint an accurate, fair or balanced picture of the staffing challenges at St Sampson's High School and was disproportionate. The school has three substantive teacher vacancies - something which the Press did include but only on page 2 - in subjects such as science, where we know there is an international shortage of teachers with a science specialism. The point is these challenges are not unique to St Sampson's High; I have every confidence that Mrs Godley, the Principal, and her leadership team are doing all they can to manage the situation.

'It is easy however to make St Sampson's an easy target for such sensationalist headlines, but it would be more beneficial to students and the school community to focus on supporting Mrs Godley and her whole team of staff to make the necessary improvements, following the recent Ofsted inspection, which I know are well underway. The presentation of the article feels very much like kicking the school while it's getting back to its feet, to the detriment of the wellbeing of staff, students and wider school community. There is also bitter irony that such sensationalist headlines in the media on staffing challenges not only impacts on the morale of the staff who are working so hard, often going significantly above and beyond, to support students and colleagues, but also makes it much harder to actually recruit the very staff who can help to provide the stability the school community wants, as any prospective candidate who would be new to the island naturally looks at online coverage.

'While the facts do not support a narrative that staff vacancies are causing widespread issues, it is true that the school - again like others locally and further afield - is having to manage challenges around staff sickness and a well-publicised shortage of supply teachers, which we are actively and creatively trying to resolve. This does sometimes lead to students having an unavoidable lack of teacher consistency, and the school is doing all it can to overcome this.

'I fully understand parental concerns about their child's schooling and encourage any parents to voice those concerns when they arise so that they can be dealt with quickly. I would encourage them to continue engagement with the school's senior leadership team to support their child's learning and it they are not satisfied with the response they receive to such concerns; I would further encourage parents to raise them with the Education Office.

'Recognising the specific concerns of parents of Year 11 students as they race towards their GSCEs, I am very supportive of revision sessions the school offers. Details of these sessions have been shared with parents and carers. I do understand that any interruption to student's learning especially at this time is very concerning and can reassure the school community that the Senior leadership team and the Education Office are working hard to overcome these staffing challenges. I encourage parents and their children to take up the support that is available to them.'

Statement from Liz Coffey, Executive Principal of the Secondary School Partnership:

'I need to be clear that, while there are current challenges around securing appropriate teacher coverage of some lessons at St Sampson's, I do not share the view that the school is letting students down by trying to effectively manage a situation that is largely outside of its control. St Sampson's is also not the only school having to manage challenges around staff absence, and a strength of the Secondary School Partnership's collaboration is that we can use staff from across the high schools to support where there is the greatest need. We need to acknowledge that there remains an increased difficulty, since the island rightly began living responsibly with Covid, in managing staff absences. The majority of schools locally and nationally face similar challenges. Running a school is a complex and often thankless task, but St Sampson's under the new senior leadership team brought in to support the Principal, has made significant strides in many areas since the recent Ofsted inspection and we will be providing a detailed update to parents on this in January. We always welcome parents contacting the school's leadership team if they have concerns and I know the Principal shares my commitment to respond to all such contact. If any parent feels that they have not had a response having expressed concerns, I urge them to contact Mrs Godley.'

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