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Statement by the President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture

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Wednesday 24 April 2019

As members are aware, the Committee is leading substantial reforms to the Island's education system, as directed by the States in 2018. These reforms are focused on promoting opportunity and excellence for every student now and in the future - whether in terms of academic standards, pastoral support or sporting, social and cultural enrichment through school.

This summer the Committee will submit a key policy letter. In this policy letter the Committee will propose the capital investment necessary for the development of four education sites in order to put into effect the policy decisions already made by the States. Those four sites are:  the 11-18 Colleges at Baubigny and Les Beaucamps, which will operate as one Secondary School; The Guernsey Institute at Les Ozouets, which will integrate providers of further and higher education run or funded by the States; and La Mare de Carteret Primary School, which needs to be rebuilt. As importantly, the policy letter will set out further details about how the new model of education will operate in practice, its benefits and its costs. 

The Committee recently appointed Vicky Godley and Kieran James as Designate Principals to the two 11-18 Colleges.  They are both well known and well regarded as education leaders locally.  Currently Vicky is Head Teacher of La Mare de Carteret High School and Kieran is Acting Head Teacher of The Grammar School & Sixth Form Centre.  Vicky and Kieran will work closely with our Executive Head Teacher, Liz Coffey, to develop the new School operating across two 11-18 Colleges.  Among their priorities will be further developing the curriculum offer, the new staffing structure, pastoral support for students and provision for students with special educational needs.

Feedback that we are receiving from staff in schools is vital in the development of our new system of education.  We have previously provided assurances that there will be a teaching post in the new Secondary School for all of our teaching staff. The next stage is to share the future staffing structure with school staff and this will be done before the end of the summer term.  In consultation with our union colleagues, appointments to the new School will begin early in the next academic year.  This will help to ensure that transition for staff and students can be planned carefully as we move to the new model of education over the next few years.  This year we have formed a new consultative group which includes our Executive Head Teacher and brings together union leaders and other representatives of school staff to share ideas about the development of the new School.

We are engaging with students, parents and the wider community on names for the School and its two Colleges.  Before the end of the summer term we will announce the names of the School and Colleges and their houses as well as the School's motto.  We are consulting students on the uniform for the new school.  Decisions on future uniform arrangements will also be announced before the end of the current school term.  Until then we respectfully request parents and carers not to make any assumptions about which students, year groups and schools may or may not be required to change their uniform. The Committee recognises that a change of uniform could have financial implications and is developing ways to avoid additional costs to parents. The new names of the School and Colleges and the new uniform will begin to come into effect from September 2020. 

A new Director of Education was recently appointed.  Laurie Ann Baker will spend some time in Guernsey each week from June and will take up her post full time in mid-August.  The Director of Education is a statutory post which has existed for many years.  It has most recently been filled on a temporary basis by Andrew Warren and I wish to thank him for his invaluable service since June last year.

We are consulting with education professionals on the new inspection framework for Bailiwick schools which will come into effect when Ofsted takes over as our inspectorate in September this year. The extensive consultation period closes this week. We will consider all suggested amendments before publishing a final framework in time for it to be put into effect initially for a small number of pilot inspections before the full inspections commence next academic year.

An important part of the Committee's policy agenda - well away from building projects, consolidating school sites and transition models - is the further development of the Bailiwick Curriculum. It is essential that our Curriculum should draw on local expertise and the latest educational research and best practice from elsewhere and should take account of evidence about the impact of different curriculum models around the world. Our Curriculum must provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to flourish in education, at work and socially. When the Committee was elected a little over a year ago it embarked on a journey - working with officers and educationalists to maintain all the good in our current Curriculum (in particular its strong skills base) while encouraging a greater role for subject-specific knowledge and consistency of content across the phases of education and across schools. This journey continues. The curriculum working group, made up of teachers, has developed core content in various subjects, including History, Geography and Science. Greater consistency of content will assist in the transfer of pupils between Primary and Secondary Schools.  The curriculum working group will be doing the same in other subject areas over the next few terms.

Since my last update Statement, the Committee has published policies on behaviour in schools and provision for students of high prior attainment. Although there was some criticism about the development of such policies, members will be aware that the Committee was required to publish such policies by States' Resolutions dating back to 2016 when the States voted to end selection at 11. The Committee has also recently developed an updated mental health and well being policy for schools.

As part of the proposals agreed by the States in 2018 the States directed that the current outdated Education Law should be repealed and replaced.  The Committee has started work to develop a new Education Law.  In the coming months the Committee will be consulting with particular interest groups, including in relation to the future of special educational needs, and will then consult more widely across the community in the autumn.  The Committee will submit a policy letter on the new Law to the States for debate and, if the proposals in that policy letter are accepted, the Committee will then present the new Law itself in a Projet de Loi.

The Committee is progressing the development of The Guernsey Institute, which will integrate the College of Further Education, The Institute for Health and Social Care Studies and the GTA.  The Guernsey Institute will be created on the 1st of July this year and the Committee will shortly invite expressions of interest from anyone wishing to serve as a member of The Guernsey Institute's Governing Body, initially on a 'shadow' basis until governance is devolved through the new Education Law.  Work is ongoing to develop the curriculum offer for the organisation and agree the space requirements for the proposed building work required to unite all three existing organisations on a single site at Les Ozouets.

The Committee continues its programme of visits to schools and colleges. Since my last Statement we have visited three secondary, three primary and three special schools and recently met our friends in Alderney to discuss the opportunities for St Anne's School within the new model of education.

There is an extant States' Resolution directing the Committee to bring to the States a plan for sport. We have started discussions on how we might fund the additional investment which will inevitably be needed and we hope to conclude them in time to submit the policy letter this summer.

We are in the final stages of preparations for the refurbishment of Foote's Lane Stadium. The centrepiece of these works is the installation of a new eight-lane running track. We are also improving access for people with impaired mobility and repairing the buildings.

Last month the International Island Games Association inspected our facilities ahead of the Games in Guernsey in 2021 and left content that our preparations are on track to host a fabulous event.

Work continues on a policy letter which will propose a new approach to maintaining and promoting Guernesiaise. The Committee hopes this policy letter will be before the States this year.

Candie Museum attracted 27,000 visitors in 2018. This was its highest footfall since 1991. Over the winter, the Frossard Theatre at Candie was refurbished thanks to a generous bequest and donations. We anticipate returning to the States later this year with our most substantial cultural capital project: [Castle Cornet]. In the meantime we are replacing the roof on the maritime museum at the Castle, which could wait no longer.

Of course two weeks tomorrow - May the 9th - is Liberation Day. Events in Town are being planned in partnership with a new event organiser and we can expect to see a number of changes as we try to ensure that, as well as being a day of celebration, the historic and cultural significance of the Liberation is passed between the generations.

At the end of 2017 it was anticipated that the Committee's expenditure would be nearly £4m. above budget in 2018. During 2018 this budget deficit was halved.

At the time of the 2019 budget debate the Committee emphasised its determination to remain in budget this year and to reduce underlying costs in the medium- to long-term where this could be done without detriment to services, especially statutory education. At the end of March this year, the Committee's expenditure was under budget by £330,000, but difficult decisions will need to be made - and will be made - still to be within budget by the end of the year.

 

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