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ESC amendment to invite States to add more space at 11-18 colleges if they wish

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Monday 17 February 2020

The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture is submitting an Amendment to the Requete on secondary and post-16 education.

The Committee's Amendment responds to concerns raised about space and operational changes in the two 11-18 colleges.

Unlike the Requete, the Committee's Amendment allows the States to maintain the current timeline to deliver the education reform programme agreed in 2018 and 2019. This includes establishing the 11-18 colleges as part of Lisia School, forming The Guernsey Institute in purpose-built facilities, redeveloping La Mare de Carteret Primary School and significant investment in digital infrastructure and services in schools.

If approved, the Amendment will set up a debate early in the life of the next States term about whether further space should be added at the 11-18 colleges. This debate will be nearly two years before the colleges have Year 12 students and nearly three years before they have Year 12 and Year 13 students. This means that if the States want to add further space they can do so well before the colleges have a full intake of students in all year groups. The Amendment will allow this to be done while maintaining the current transition model for students, which has provided parents with certainty since October 2018 about where their children will be at school in all future years. In contrast, the Requete will leave hundreds of students not knowing where they will be at school from next year onwards.

The Committee remains confident in the space standards it is planning for the two new colleges. Initially an external independent review recommended the space necessary. The Committee's proposals to the States last year included significantly more space than recommended by the external review. However, the Committee has listened to representations made by some staff, parents and others and wants to provide the States with an opportunity to address those concerns.

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

'The Committee has always been open to adding further space if the States are prepared to fund it. A further review of space set out in a Policy Letter will allow the Committee to recommend how additional space could be utilised and the next States will have the final say. The Committee will be directed to pay particular attention to space for sixth forms and recreation and one or two other elements raised by staff in schools. If the States are prepared to invest more in education, of course we will welcome that, and it is certainly true that it would be better to spend money adding space to our new colleges than to throw away millions of pounds endlessly reviewing other models of education previously rejected, which is what the Requete proposes to do.'

The Amendment will also focus on the day-to-day operation of Lisia School and its two colleges - including arrangements for lunch, enrichment activities and the future staff structure. Operational changes are being developed iteratively during a transitional period over several years and they remain subject to much more discussion between school/college leaders, teachers and support staff and the Office of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture. However, following discussions with union leaders in recent weeks, the Committee acknowledges that staff in schools need to be reassured of the Committee's determination that the operation and character of the school and its colleges will be developed in collaboration with staff.

The final wording of the Amendment will be submitted imminently.

Deputy Richard Graham, Vice-President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:

'The educational case for the current reforms remains as strong as ever. They represent our desire for excellent educational outcomes, equality of opportunity and facilities of a high standard in every school or college and making the best use of the funds the States are prepared to invest. It is simply not acceptable to prolong any longer than absolutely necessary the current system where too many students do not enjoy an educational experience than aligns with these key principles. However, we have listened to the concerns from the profession and members of the public about space for students in the colleges. These concerns are best addressed through further discussions with professionals and inviting the States to add to the space standards if they believe the case for doing so is well made.'

Deputy Fallaize said:

'The Requete proposes stopping two years into a five- or six-year transition period. Doing so would waste millions of pounds already spent, waste millions more revisiting models previously rejected and leave students stuck in the current model with all its disadvantages and with no idea where they will be at school from next year onwards. It is a destructive Requete because it proposes no new ideas and no solutions. Our Amendment tries to respond constructively to concerns raised while maintaining progress on the reforms now under way and prevents taking the States back to the drawing board five years after this debate started.'

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