Wednesday 24 October 2018
Shortly after being elected in February the Committee made a commitment that before the October half term we would announce the sites which we propose to use for secondary education in the future and the transitional arrangements to close the four existing schools and move to one school operating across two 11 to 18 colleges. We have completed the work necessary to meet that commitment.
Late this afternoon the information will be conveyed to parents, teachers and other staff, school committees, deputies and others. The statement I am making now will include nothing further on this information which is to be made available later today, but the Presiding Officer has kindly given me permission to include it in another Statement which I will make later at this meeting - I believe as the penultimate item on the agenda.
The Committee inherited an anticipated overspend of £3.8million for this year. Since we are still a few weeks away from the end of the year I am cautious about saying this, but the latest forecast shows a much-improved budget position - indeed it is possible that the overspend may even fall below £3m. From 2019 we will move into a new era of realistic cash limits which do not result in inevitable overspends - but allied to a medium-term savings plan which sets out the kind of transformation in the delivery and administration of education which is necessary not only to improve outcomes further but to balance the budget as required by the States.
There have been significant changes in the structure and personnel at the Education Office, including in the roles of Chief Secretary and Director of Education and the new role of Executive Head Teacher of secondary schools. The restructuring of the Office will realise annual budget savings into six figures and there may be opportunities to increase this further. The transformation of secondary and post-16 education and other related work is being overseen by a dedicated Programme Office which brings together professionals with the skills to manage substantial change in the public sector. Most importantly, the Committee is served by a group of officers who are well equipped to advise on and support our extensive agenda of policy reform; and we are determined to do everything possible for this not to be put at risk during the period of change in the civil service recently announced by the States' Chief Executive.
The arrangement with Education Scotland to inspect schools was terminated at the end of the last academic year. In the current academic year schools will be inspected by an organisation outside the public sector which employs HMI Scotland inspectors. In appointing a permanent replacement, the Committee's objective was always to have an inspectorate which is impartial, rigorous and able to command the confidence of stakeholders as well as recognising our distinct local context. From September 2019 schools will be inspected by Ofsted. The Committee is currently working with Ofsted to develop the local framework against which our schools will be inspected.
It was always intended that there would need to be further development of the Bailiwick Curriculum. The Committee is prioritising this work. It will focus on establishing greater consistency of content to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need. This work will draw heavily on the experiences of teaching professionals in Guernsey and the advice of curriculum thinkers elsewhere. I want to emphasise that this is development, not replacement, of the curriculum.
For some time the number of students obtaining 5 A* to C grades has been seen as a sort of 'gold standard' at GCSE level. This is changing. Nationally the main assessment measure now used at GCSE level is known as Attainment 8. Moving to this measure has several advantages for us, for example: every grade improvement of every student becomes important; there is greater focus on certain key subject areas; and it will allow us (which we now can't) to compare the attainment of our students with students nationally. Over the next three to four years we will gradually move to Attainment 8 as our main GCSE performance measure.
In the summer holidays the Committee invested a not inconsiderable sum in essential and long overdue works at la Mare de Carteret Schools. This investment has provided students and teachers there with a visibly improved learning and working environment. The final projects should be completed during half term next week.
The Committee has made a commitment not only to redevelop la Mare de Carteret Primary School but to expedite the timetable for seeking States' approval of this work.
The Committee has been working in partnership with the Policy & Resources Committee and the three grant-aided colleges and I am pleased to say that very recently I have signed a new grant agreement with each of the colleges which provides security of funding for them and substantial real terms reductions in States' expenditure.
By the end of the year the Committee will have completed a programme of half-day visits to all schools in the Bailiwick and this programme will be repeated next year.
The Committee has developed a good relationship with the education authorities in Sark. We are working on an arrangement which would allow secondary-age students from Sark to be educated together in one of the new 11 to 18 colleges. We also hope to assist Sark School with the provision of some specialist equipment.
We continue to work closely with St Anne's School in Alderney. The Head Teacher communicates regularly with the Education Office and myself. Clearly we are in a period of significant change in education in Guernsey and our friends in Alderney need to know - and do know - that during this period of change the level of support they have received in recent years from Guernsey will be maintained.
We remain determined to fulfil the recent States' Resolution in relation to the future of technical, professional and vocational studies, which was:
To agree that the College of Further Education shall have a single board of governors and a single executive leadership team; and further to agree that it shall be an objective of the College to integrate with the Institute of Health and Social Care Studies and the GTA University Centre as soon as practicable, most probably to operate as discrete faculties within the same College; and further to agree that it shall be an ambition of the College of Further Education to form a partnership with a UK university, ultimately to replace the title College of Further Education with the title University College Guernsey.
The likely future structure of the integrated organisation has been developed in conjunction with the three existing organisations. Our intention is that integration will proceed incrementally during 2019. Also during 2019 we will set out the capital developments necessary for the integrated organisation to be housed in a new purpose-built facility at les Ozouets at the earliest opportunity.
Changes have recently been announced to the apprenticeship scheme. Some concerns have been expressed by representatives of the construction industry and the College of Further Education remains in dialogue with the industry, including to consider some further amendments to the funding package. A significant advantage of the changes to the scheme is that apprenticeships will be possible in many more industries to reflect better the diversity of the Island's economy.
The States have resolved that the 1970 Education Law, which has long been woefully outdated, should be repealed and replaced. Work on this is under way and the Committee anticipates laying a policy letter before the States in 2019.
Preparations continue for us to host the Island Games in 2021. The International Island Games Association will visit early in 2019 to look at our facilities and plans in some detail.
Soon after being elected the Committee commissioned a working group, mainly drawn from the Guernsey Arts Commission and the Guernsey Community Foundation, to help develop an arts strategy, including undertaking public consultation. This work has progressed well. Recommendations from the working group will go to the Committee shortly. The Committee will then move to submitting an arts strategy to the States as soon as possible.
During the summer the Committee undertook public consultation on the future of sport. This was to assist in the development of a sports strategy. We are currently writing a Plan for Sport and intend to submit a policy letter to the States ahead of schedule in the early months of 2019.
The amalgamation at committee level of education, sport and culture continues to yield benefits. The Committee has a good relationship with the Sports Commission. Since my previous update Statement an agreement has been reached which will see the Committee increasing its investment to maintain and improve the PE in Schools programme while the Commission raises additional funding to support sport in the community.
The Committee is finalising the business case for the capital developments necessary at Foote's Lane, including a new athletics track.
The Committee is responsible for heritage policy. The limited resources available need to be used most effectively and in the longer-term it is hoped that investment could be increased. However, these things remain unlikely while decisions about heritage continue to be made somewhat randomly. Many years ago a predecessor committee identified the need for the States to adopt a more structured approach to heritage matters but little progress was made on this. The Committee has therefore asked officers to begin work on a heritage strategy which it is hoped could be laid before the States this term.