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ESC to seek clarity from States on secondary education models to review and to protect The Guernsey Institute

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Monday 09 March 2020

The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture will shortly submit a Policy Letter to the States proposing directions on several issues left unresolved by the recent States' debate on the future of education.

The States have paused the introduction of two 11-18 colleges pending a further review of other secondary education models previously considered by the Committee.

The Committee respects that signatories of the Requete stated their intention was that work on The Guernsey Institute should continue. However, the resolutions made by the States direct the review of education models to include some which are not compatible with The Guernsey Institute.

The Committee wants to safeguard the development of The Guernsey Institute, which was created last year by integrating three further and higher education providers: the College of Further Education, the Institute of Health and Social Care Studies and the GTA University Centre. The Committee will propose ruling out of the review any model with post-16 arrangements incompatible with the concept of The Guernsey Institute in its present form.

Under the terms of the Requete approved by the States, the review would also need to include education models which the Committee believes the States have no serious intention of taking forward, but which were previously considered, such as creating middle schools for children between the ages of 11 and 14.

The review as directed also does not currently require assessment of three 11-18 colleges, which is seen by some people as a reasonable compromise incorporating 11-18 providers for all secondary students but on three sites rather than two. Therefore, the Committee will propose narrowing the review to a smaller number of models for which reasonable levels of enthusiasm have been expressed previously.

Other issues left unresolved which the Committee's Policy Letter will seek to address include the concept of "one school" in the secondary phase, which is already in development, and the level of detail required in the assessment of various education models. The Policy Letter will lay out a realistic timeline and a budget for the review.

The Committee is proposing to remain in office because it considers that it is best placed to commence the review, but recognises that following the recent States' debate it can remain in office only with the renewed authority of the States. The Committee's proposals will include one to allow the States to express whether it has confidence in the Committee remaining in office for the last few weeks of the States' term.

The Committee will request that its Policy Letter be considered by the States at its March meeting.

Deputy Matt Fallaize, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:

'After the events of last week, the Committee has spent a few days considering the review of secondary education models which now needs to take place. Whether it is our Committee or another, we believe there is a clear need for the States to provide clarity on the models that should be reviewed.

'While I respect that Deputy Dudley-Owen and her fellow requerants stated their Requete was not intended to stop work on The Guernsey Institute, the wording of the resolutions require the Committee to include models which are incompatible with The Guernsey Institute.

'This includes a model previously proposed which would have split the College of Further Education into two separate institutions. It arguably also includes a model involving a tertiary college which would separate all post-16 education from 11-16 education and which was rejected by a previous States. This needs to be addressed otherwise the development of The Guernsey Institute cannot proceed with any confidence despite there being widespread support for the concept.

'If uncertainty for parents, students and schools is not to be prolonged beyond what is now inevitable, the review needs to be thorough but swift and it needs to be focused to a limited number of models. There also needs to be wide understanding from the outset about the level of detail required of each model to be included in the review. Without this, there is a high risk that in 12 or 18 months' time the debate will be in the same position as now and no progress will have been made.

'We are also mindful that during the recent States' debate a reasonable level of enthusiasm was expressed for three 11-18 colleges, yet the current directions do not require this model to be included in the review. It needs to be put beyond doubt that it should be included.

'Once you remove models that simply do not work if you want to keep The Guernsey Institute as presently conceived and once you get into the review the models seriously discussed in the lead up to the recent States' debate, you are left with a relatively small number of models. Our Policy Letter will explicitly list them so that the States can provide not just our Committee but the next Committee and their officials with much-needed clarity about what the review should include and exclude
and what level of detailed analysis of models is required. This will keep costs down, allow the review to proceed more swiftly than it would otherwise and allow the Committee to work with the profession on the realistic options in a focused way.

'On the question of the future of the Committee itself, we propose to remain in office to commence this work and to continue to lead the wide range of other areas of policy under our mandate, including shortly taking to the States Policy Letters on our Plan for Sport and a new Education Law. We respect that we can continue only with the renewed authority of the States and if the votes in the States show that colleagues have lost confidence in the Committee then we will of course step aside and a new Committee will be formed. Whether it is our Committee or a different Committee, the directions for the review of secondary education models still need more clarity than provided at present.'

On Tuesday the Committee will meet union leads representing teachers and support staff in schools to discuss the proposed next steps.

The Committee will write to parents of students in the next 24 hours to provide as much information as is possible at the present time on issues such as admission arrangements to secondary schools.

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