The next stage of this long running saga was the report from the Education Department proposing the rebuild La Mare de Carteret on the same lines as their previous report, but to also submit a report no later than March 2016 looking at the optimal sixe, number and location of secondary schools and at least one option for moving from 4 to 3 secondary schools.
The amendment from Deputy Bebb would have deleted the propositions and sought a review into secondary education. It was a difficult decision to make whether to support this amendment. The main report did not have the support of Treasury & Resources. However, up to the very last minute discussions had been going between Education and T&R and it was thought a compromise position might be reached, as it was.
I did not support the amendment proposed by Deputy Bebb but I made it clear in my speech the frustrations I had with what the Education Department were doing.
Sir, The fact that we have this amendment, and that from T&R for that matter, as well as all the tsunami of concern coming from parents, teachers and children is the void that exists in terms of Education strategy.
Ed Dept created a vision 2 years ago now that we fell over ourselves to support. We had a lovely fluffy vision from the Education Dept about how our chidlren are our future, just like the corny song but where is the strategy behind it?
Where there is nothing, concern, suspicion and distrust fill the void.
What are ideas for;
- Selection – yes or no, 11 or 14?
- High schools or technical colleges?
- Support for the independent sector?
- Post 16 education?
- What does the Department mean ‘ vision to create an education system for Bailiwick of Guernsey which will meet the challenges and demands of the future and provide our greatest asset, our people, with the knowledge, skills and tools to face a complex and challenging future with enthusiasm and confidence.
- What do they mean about equality of educational opportunity – is this the same education for everyone or the best system for each child? I’d hope that latter, but we have no understanding of what that is.
But you know today, this amendment is nothing to do with value for money or educational outcomes. IT’s all to do with whether we trust the Education to do what it says it will do. This amendment says delay any build until Education have come back with their strategy on secondary education BUT we hear from Education that they will bring back a letter on selection and on structure of education before the end of this term.
Everything has boiled down to a matter of trust.
That’s the only difference.
Do you trust Education Dept – do you? That is the question I have been asking myself, particularly in the last few days. I’ve been pretty critical of the Education Dept, particularly over the closure of St Andrews – a decision that is increasingly looking like it will not reap the benefits forecast. BUT I supported the pre-school proposals as I believe they will make sense, although I was not happy with the way it was put through without consideration of funding. Neither was I impressed with the way they approached the proposed La Mare build, hence my support of an independent review.
The Education Dept say trust us, we will be providing a paper on selection, we will be looking at options for the future structure – we committed to that in our Vision.
But where is the new education law – where in vision document it is made clear that this will be needed to, and I quote, ’stimulate the education system’.
Can we trust the Education Dept?
Well, perhaps we have to.
It seems to me that we now need closure and I don’t mean a school building. This has been one long sorry mess with 2 departments acting in a more infantile manner than any of the children they are claiming to have in their uppermost thoughts.
I do not see that a delay will result in better decision making. Indeed, I suspect it will lead to an even longer period of no decision making at a time when our construction industry is not building anything significant and when we need to kick start our economy. At a time when teachers are leaving and it is harder to recruit new ones and at a time when it has become increasingly clear to me that Policy Council has, despite the best intentions of its members become increasingly meaningless.
So, even though I have misgivings, I cannot support this amendment.