Monday 09 October 2023
Excellent teaching is about the staff in front of the students; however, those teachers should not be hamstrung by the facilities in which they have to work.
This is the message of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture as it continues to explain plans for secondary and post-16 education.
If funding is agreed by the States later this month, those plans will see a new post-16 campus developed with modern, fit-for-purpose teaching facilities for academic, technical, professional, vocational, and lifelong learners in Guernsey.
While buildings are not the be-all and end-all in education, the current estate in Guernsey is in some cases so poor it is preventing staff from being able to do their jobs, according to the Committee. Underinvestment has been so rife over recent years that the Committee has no choice but to make buildings and infrastructure a crucial part of the discussion about the future of education in the island.
Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:
"During the public debate on our plans, we often hear the argument made that buildings don't matter; what matters is the teacher stood at the front of the class. I am in total agreement with people arguing the teacher is the most important element in providing education, however I also want to address some of the misconceptions around this argument.
"Our current education estate is in some cases preventing teachers and lecturers from being able to teach. Take the Coutanchez Campus as an example, where College lecturers are sometimes having to try to teach in facilities with water pouring through the ceilings and the windows. Sometimes this means they have to rearrange lessons, move into different spaces, or spend time making the space suitable before they can teach.
"Equally, teachers at our Sixth Form Centre currently share increasingly reduced space with the rest of Les Varendes High School following the change to the feeder model and as the integration with La Mare de Carteret High continues. As a result some spaces not previously designed for teaching and learning have had to be repurposed to accommodate lessons.
"Guernsey's education staff are at present going above and beyond to ensure our students still get the highest quality education possible. We can only applaud them for this, however as a Committee it is our responsibility to highlight the stark reality and need for investment in infrastructure so they can channel that energy into teaching, not into contingency planning for when the space they are supposed to be using fails.
"Our plans do not put buildings first, but they do acknowledge that we must invest in our education infrastructure to ensure teachers are given the tools they need to teach. I have no doubt that the public would agree with me in saying that a teacher should not need to spend part of their day dealing with a window leak, or ensuring there are buckets on top of equipment, so it does not suffer water damage. In the same vein, I agree with many members of the public that it is teachers that matter most in the delivery of education, and that is why our plans for the re-organisation of secondary and post-16 education also include completely new staffing structures for each institution that provide increased resilience, more support staff, and mean teachers can focus on teaching."