Tuesday 12 November 2019
The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture has held the first series of drop-in sessions for secondary school staff. Committee Members and officers are in all secondary schools this week to discuss the new model of education. It comes as unions representing school staff raise a range of issues, highlighted in surveys carried out by their members.
The new model of education will see two 11-18 colleges in the States' sector - de Saumarez College on the site of the current Les Beaucamps High School and Victor Hugo College on the site of the current St Sampson's High School. They will operate as a single school - Lisia School. The transition period has started this academic year and the new model will be fully in place by 2023/24.
Liz Coffey, Executive Head Teacher of Lisia School, said:
'In many ways the States' approval of the new model and the capital funds has created some certainty after many years of uncertainty. Staff in schools are hungry for more information and my senior colleagues and I are determined to ensure that teaching and support staff are fully involved in the journey of reform which we have just started.'
Similar engagement opportunities for school staff were held in the last academic year, but these are the first since September when the States approved capital investment of up to £77.9million to develop the two new colleges. After that debate, Deputy Matt Fallaize, the President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said his Committee needed to do more to secure wider support for the major reforms now under way.
Deputy Fallaize said:
'It is reassuring to hear the unions say there is support for the new non-selective secondary school model. In the past few months, we've been very focused on engaging with our political colleagues to secure support not only for redeveloping the two sites for Lisia School but also the new Guernsey Institute for further and higher education, the redevelopment of La Mare de Carteret Primary School, improvements in digital technology in schools and the co-location of education and health & care services on school sites.
'This was an important milestone to reach but there is still a long way to go in finalising and implementing the plans for the new model. For that reason, we need to resume and improve our engagement with staff in schools and we're thankful to them for taking the time to discuss their views with us.
'After many years of at times unsettling debate, thankfully the States have agreed the essentials of the reforms, and we know the cost envelope for the secondary school extensions, which the States have directed cannot exceed £77.9million. There are very strong reasons for these reforms but we recognise the need to work harder to communicate these reasons. We must also be mindful of having to strike the right balance between providing the best possible educational facilities and delivering value for money for taxpayers.
'The States spent many years debating the right model for secondary schools. Perceptions about the unaffordable size of the buildings saw previous proposals rejected. This has prolonged the inequality of facilities for our students and has left some students learning in school buildings that are wholly inadequate. We are confident we can do more to address some of the issues being raised by teaching staff currently, but we must be mindful of not repeating that history.'
A rigorous process was followed to develop the space requirements of the two new colleges. Nationally recognised standards and principles were used to calculate a baseline for the size of the extensions on the selected sites. The Committee's plans exceed this baseline in several areas to ensure students and staff are provided with the highest quality facilities the island can afford.
The plans for the new colleges include more space of a higher quality for students with special educational needs and disabilities, including communication and autism bases. They also include improved facilities for sports and physical education at both colleges. Both college sites have existing high-quality sports halls, gyms and, unlike the other two sites from which secondary education is currently provided, modern indoor swimming pools.
The Committee's plans include each college having two all-weather multi-use games areas with significantly improved surfaces. These will allow a greater range of sports to be played to a higher level than is currently possible. Outdoor areas under hard canopies will provide additional recreational space during lunch and break times as well as additional space for PE.
Circulation space will be a priority in the planning applications for both sites. The larger corridors and better building design which work well at Les Beaucamps will be replicated in the extension to create de Saumarez College. There will be improvements to circulation routes at St Sampson's by adding additional external covered walkways in the extension to create Victor Hugo College. This will be of particular benefit to students who find movement at peak times more challenging.
At present, the quality and range of facilities and experiences vary greatly from school to school. The new colleges will provide much greater equality for all students regardless of where in the island they live.
The cost ceiling set by the States of £77.9 million, which includes all of the substantial improvements described above, is significantly lower than the initial estimates provided for the model of around £100million when the States debated the future structure of education in January 2018.