Wednesday 19 February 2020
Adopting a 'three school model' could replace selection by ability with selection by postcode.
The States' policy on secondary education, agreed in 2018 and 2019, is to move to 'one school in two 11-18 colleges'. Opponents of these reforms often suggest a 'three school model' but there is no agreement about which three school model this should be.
Some would prefer three 11-18 schools, though this would require sixth forms which are smaller than desirable, with less choice and flexibility in 11-16 year groups as well as being considerably more expensive to run annually.
Others would prefer three 11-16 schools and an entirely separate sixth form centre. This would allow for equality of opportunity only by depriving all students of the benefits of 11-18 schools. It would require significant numbers of staff to travel between sites and the sixth form centre would probably have relatively few full-time staff.
And some would prefer 11-18 education on one site with between 1200 and 1300 students and 11-16 education on two other sites with between 700 and 800 students each. This model is referenced in an amendment for next week's States' debate on education which has been submitted by the Policy & Resources Committee.
The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture says this 'three school model' would create selection by postcode. It would destroy the principle of equality of opportunity in secondary education. It would leave some children with a worse deal than others based only on where in the island they live. For example, children of compulsory school age who live in St Sampson's would have less choice and fewer opportunities at a 11-16 school than their peers who live in St Peter Port would have at a much larger 11-18 school. Any reference to a "co-located sixth form" is pure semantics. The school with a sixth form centre attached or on the same site would inevitably operate as an 11-18 school, as the Grammar School & Sixth Form Centre does today, and the schools without sixth forms would operate as 11-16 schools. A central principle of the education policies pursued by the States over the past two years has been that all secondary age children should benefit from being in 11-18 schools.
Deputy Matt Fallaize, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:
'It is sometimes argued that we could have a sixth form centre completely separate from an 11-16 school even if it is on the same site whether physically attached or not. Of course this is nonsense. The 11-16 phase and the sixth form phase would inevitably have the same senior management and most of the same teachers and share facilities and there would be a good deal of integration between sixth formers and 11-16 students. In all practical senses it would operate as an 11-18 school. Our Committee is fully committed to 11-18 schools, but whether one favours 11-16 or 11-18 schools in a non-selective system it is neither rational nor fair to have two thirds of students of compulsory school age in 11-16 schools and one-third in an 1118 school based on nothing more than where in the island the student lives. We would have replaced selection by ability with selection by postcode.'
Successive Education Committees and successive States have concluded that the island has too few sixth formers to operate a genuinely independent sixth form college separate from school-based compulsory age education. This is why the Sixth Form Centre and the Grammar School share leaders, staff, facilities and resources. Clearly it would be illogical and costly to duplicate science labs, art rooms, D&T workshops, IT suites, library provision and sports facilities for use only by sixth formers next door to the same or similar facilities for 11-16 students. At present a very small number of staff at Les Varendes teach post-16 students exclusively. Sixth formers lead the Student Voice Team, they are prefects and peer mentors and they run and support clubs for younger students.
Deputy Peter Roffey, Member of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:
'We agree with those who articulate the benefits of 11-18 education. That is a principle of our model. But we want to ensure that all young people of compulsory school age are able to benefit from being in an 11-18 school. That is one of the reason why the model of two 11-18 colleges was developed and the case for it remains as strong now as it was when it was approved by the States in 2018 and 2019 after years of debate about various education models.
'I think it's important to remember that the size of the sixth form at Les Varendes is twice the size of the average school-based sixth form. What we are suggesting by running two sixth forms as an integral part of two 11-18 colleges with around 1400 students (falling to around 1150 over the next 30 years) is very conventional and replicates what is done in 80% of the leading 200 non-selective schools nationally.'