Monday 06 February 2023
The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture has provided an update on the significant progress made to date on implementing the re-organisation of Secondary and post-16 education agreed by the States in September 2021, which supports the overall delivery of its ambitious Education Strategy and drive for continuous improvement.
Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee, has outlined her concerns that too much of the political and public discussion on the implementation of the new model has focused on buildings. This narrow focus ignores the substantial and highly significant changes being introduced across the Secondary and post-16 sector which will provide the basis for improvement and stability that is so urgently needed for students, their families and education staff, following years of uncertainty and sustained disruption.
Secondary School Partnership
The development of the Secondary School Partnership (SSP), which operates as an integrated 11-18 partnership under the leadership of the Executive Principal and a joint team of Secondary Principals, is key to delivering systemic change. Joint working within the partnership allows each school to maintain its own unique identity while leaders work together to develop approaches to improvement for the benefit of all students. In practice, this has already involved groups of subject leaders and senior leaders visiting schools in England to learn from best practice across Secondary education; a focus on developing greater consistency across schools by promoting the highest possible teaching standards and student outcomes; and by ensuring that the school day across all settings within the SSP is aligned and that a similarly broad balanced curriculum is accessible for all.
New staffing structures
The implementation of the new staffing structures across the SSP is an essential piece of work which underpins efforts to improve educational outcomes and to ensure consistency of provision across all of the schools as they support students in their post-16 progression, whether that be within the partnership's Sixth Form Centre, via pathways into employment or The Guernsey Institute.
New staffing structures across the three 11-16 schools and separate Sixth Form Centre have been carefully designed by the SSP Executive Leadership Team with staff, national and local union representatives invited to provide feedback during an extensive period of consultation. The Executive Leadership Team listened carefully and responded to the feedback provided over the past five months, creating new roles to provide additional pastoral support for students and to reduce the administrative burden on teaching staff so that they can focus on curriculum development and delivery. Importantly, the implementation of these new structures, a process which is now well underway, will also give staff certainty over their future roles for the first time in almost a decade.
This is something our Secondary staff deserve and have asked for many times following years of instability and is as much about making the most impactful and efficient structure for delivering education in Guernsey. Allowing the Secondary system to move forward into new structures will enable schools to better focus their attention on improving the quality of education. This week, Secondary staff begin the process of transitioning into new staffing structures, as they receive information outlining the roles that they have been ringfenced for in the new staff structures across the three 11-16 schools and a separate sixth form.
The Guernsey Institute
Much progress has also been made on the integration of the Guernsey College of Further Education, GTA University Centre and Institute of Health and Social Care Studies into The Guernsey Institute (TGI). While it continues to operate from facilities that are not fit for purpose, its much-needed permanent home at the rebuilt Les Ozouets Campus will further support efforts to develop its offering for the community. TGI now has an integrated leadership structure and already enjoys significant cross-organisation working. It aims to be the go-to place for adult, professional, technical and vocational learning in Guernsey. Co-locating The Guernsey Institute with the Secondary School Partnership's new Sixth Form Centre on the post-16 campus will provide a centre of ambition and aspiration for all learners who continue their studies beyond age 16, providing, post-selection, the final piece of the jigsaw in the creation of a true all-ability and inclusive education system for Guernsey and Alderney.
New 11-16 school at Les Varendes site
The Committee and its staff have also begun crucial work on the creation of a new 11-16 school on the current Grammar School site. This will see La Mare de Carteret High School and the Guernsey Grammar School merge to give all students and staff a school with a shared culture, a new identity, and a new sense of belonging within the Partnership. In recent months, senior staff have been reviewing options on how best to deliver improvements on this site and will be creating a student and staff-led 'new school design team' to help develop this work further.
Digital transformation, which is essential to delivering an improved education system in Guernsey and Alderney, will enable long-term and sustainable improvements across all our schools. Through major transformation and upgrades to infrastructure and increased access to devices, learners and staff will have access to high quality, modern IT. There will be an improved ratio of devices for learners which enables the delivery of the Bailiwick Curriculum and the commitments of the Education Strategy.
The Committee is pleased to confirm that work began in 2022 to upgrade the networks through a scheduled programme of activity across all schools. This work continues apace and will significantly improve connectivity across all schools by the end of 2023, which in turn will have an enormously positive impact for all staff and the students that they teach.
Following the decision late last year that the States of Guernsey had to withdraw from using the previous contractor for building the post-16 campus at Les Ozouets, the Committee has been engaging with the market as widely and quickly as possible. This includes construction firms of the required size and experience in Guernsey, Jersey and the UK. Those discussions have resulted in a number of options that are currently being pursued. Given the nature of those commercially confidential discussions, the Committee is not able to provide more information at this stage although expects to be able to do so in early to mid-March; subject to the completion of exploratory work and further engagement with the Policy & Resources Committee. The Committee expects to be able to shortly outline its plans to move forward with efforts to appoint a new contractor to deliver the campus, which continues to be a game-changer for the delivery of post-16 and adult learning for our community.
Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:
'It is time that we changed the tone of the conversation around education in Guernsey and Alderney. We owe it not only to our students but to our many staff to be far more celebratory of the many successes. We must create a positive and constructive conversation, acknowledging where we need to do better, but doing so with support, warmth and due concern. Too much of the discussion around the States' plans for Secondary and post-16 education centres on buildings and negative rumination. It's become an increasingly depressed and catastrophised narrative, which ignores the huge amount of very positive progress being made on the far wider elements of the implementation plans - things that arguably matter far more when trying to deliver change and improvements to the delivery of education.
'Whether it the development of the new staffing structures, which will deliver improved resilience across the board, reduce teacher workloads and add capacity in important areas like pastoral care, or the absolutely essential digital transformation which will enable tangible improvements to education delivery, our Committee and our staff are driving forward hugely significant pieces of work that will enable true change. These are often overlooked in lieu of talk about sites and buildings, which I acknowledge are important but which are not the only enablers required to improve education in Guernsey and Alderney. My message to States colleagues and to the wider community is to recognise how lucky we are in Guernsey that we have a functioning and delivering system, undoubtedly improvements are needed and those are well underway - but stop with the negative narrative and start working with us to build Guernsey's education system up, not against us by constantly talking it down.'
Jacki Hughes, Executive Principal of The Guernsey Institute, said:
'Equity and parity are at the heart of the secondary and post 16 reorganisation model and for us at The Guernsey Institute, this is very important. The work we have done in the past two years with our secondary school colleagues has clearly shown me the benefits of the post-16 campus and how it will improve the education and social integration of our professional, vocational and technical students.
'Within The Guernsey Institute itself, we have been enjoying the benefits of working together as one across our three organisations for some time now, but we continue to build on those efforts, always keeping our aim of becoming more than the sum of our parts at the centre of our strategy. That said, some of our now very old campuses are struggling, and I know I speak for all our staff and students when I say we look forward to our new facility - a home in which we can grow and develop our culture and continue to pursue excellence for all post-16 learners.'
Liz Coffey, Executive Principal of the Secondary School Partnership, said:
'Since the States of Deliberation agreed the future direction of secondary education in 2021, the Executive Leadership Team of the Secondary School Partnership has been developing and implementing plans to drive the reorganisation forward and to deliver improvements across all schools. This has included a strong focus on becoming an outward facing Partnership, working collaboratively with schools in England to learn from best practice.
'Careful planning is underway across the La Mare De Carteret school and the current Grammar School to create a new 11-16 school on that site and we are committed to directly involving staff and students in this process. Finally, this week marks an important milestone for all staff as we begin the sensitive process of transitioning staff to the new staffing structures, following months of careful work by the Executive Leadership Team and extensive consultation with staff and union representatives. Whilst, as a leadership team, we all acknowledge the challenges of change for staff we also know how critical it is that we provide some certainty for staff after many years of instability within the Secondary education sector in Guernsey.'