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Education publishes proposals for future structure of secondary and post-16 Education

For Release: 2nd February 2016

The Education Department has today published its eagerly anticipated proposals for the future structure of secondary and post-16 education, including the future funding of the grant-aided Colleges, selection at 11 and the size and number of secondary schools.

'It has been a real challenge for the Board to develop these proposals,' said Education Minister, Robert Sillars.

'But we are really excited to have had this unique opportunity to shape the structure, quality and outcomes of our system, potentially for the benefit of generations to come.

'We have listened carefully to the views of the education profession, we have considered the views of those who took part in our recent Your Schools, Your Choice consultation and paid particular attention to the possible impact of any changes on our children and young people, staff and the wider community. At the forefront of all our discussions has been the need to reflect our core values which we outlined in our Vision - the enjoyment of learning, collaborative working, inclusive and personalised learning, equality of opportunity, breadth and depth of opportunities and enhanced participation within a culture of high expectation and achievement.

'As Board members we have listened to each other's arguments and reflected on our experience and understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our current system before finally agreeing to a set of proposals that will be put before the Assembly in March,' said Deputy Sillars.

'We are often told that our education system doesn't need fixing but the reality is that the 11 plus, as a means of deciding which pupil goes to which secondary school, is not an appropriate way to determine the future of our children's secondary education. It fails to deliver equality of opportunity, fairness or the sort of social mobility that was originally intended.

'At the heart of our proposals is the absolute commitment to ensure that all our young people are able to reach their full potential and achieve at the highest levels possible. We must provide an education system that caters for all our children and young people and ensure that they can make valued and lasting contributions to our society and the wider world.

'We have designed our own solution for Guernsey. We do not have to slavishly follow what they do elsewhere. We are aiming to keep what is good about our education system but address some of the problems of inequality and fairness presented by our current selective process at age 11,' said Deputy Sillars.

The Education Department's proposals can be summarised as follows:

  • There would be no more 11 plus tests from September 2019.

  • At the end of Year 6 children will transfer from their feeder catchment primary school to one States of Guernsey secondary school spread over four Guernsey mainstream sites - Les Beaucamps, La Mare de Carteret, St Sampson's and the current Grammar School site at Les Varendes. The school would be led by an executive headteacher, supported by a Board of Governors

  • Each site would cater for around 600-720 11-16 year olds and so would retain the benefits of smaller schools in terms of ethos, identity, close relationships between staff and pupils, monitoring attendance and behaviour, links with the surrounding local community etc. This was something that came through loud and clear from the public consultation.

  • All sites would offer a common Key Stage 3 curriculum. Basically this means that all students would be studying the same subjects for the first 3 years of their secondary school life - pretty much as they do now. There could be setting (grouping by ability) in some subjects, where beneficial, to ensure those of higher ability are stretched and challenged and those who require further help and support receive it. This will help ensure that all children are able to reach their full potential and provide equality of opportunity.

  • During Year 9 selection for pathways and options at Key Stage 4 (the subjects and qualifications they study in Years 10 and 11) would be based on an individual student's aptitude, ability, past performance, potential and preference. Choice of pathway would be finalised through guided and informed discussions between school staff, the student and their parents/carers along with impartial guidance from Careers Guernsey (as necessary). This would be overseen by the school's senior management team.

  • Dependent on their individual pathway, students may for Years 10 and 11:

  • Remain at their current secondary site for all subjects

  • Study the majority of subjects at their current site but move for one or more options, or

  • Change secondary site if the majority of their options or specialist subjects are based at another site.

Specialist staff could also move between sites where necessary.

  • Post-16 A Level and IB studies would continue to be delivered from the Les Varendes site and the College of Further Education would operate as now offering a range of BTEC courses and vocational qualifications (with the ultimate aim of moving onto a single site at Les Ozouets). As now there would be entry criteria to access either institution. Both institutions would be required to work closely together to ensure that students could mix and match courses where desirable.

  • We are proposing to continue funding the grant-aided Colleges. Under our proposals there would cease to be special place holders at the Colleges as there are now as the 11 plus process would no longer exist. However, we would still wish those of lesser means to have the opportunity to access a place at the Colleges.

  • We are proposing that we explore, with the Colleges, the possibility of reducing the level of funding over time. If the States support our proposals we would work with the Colleges to implement a bursary scheme to financially support (in full or in part) those who would otherwise be unable to attend the Colleges. If the States decide to retain selection at 11 then this could be through means-testing special place holders.

  • The current funding agreement runs until July 2019 and so we are proposing to work with the Colleges over the coming months and to bring proposals back to the States no later than June 2017.

The Education Department was directed by the States to consider options for moving to a three school/site option. This would mean closing one of our current secondary school sites.

'We have carefully considered whether this would be possible or even desirable and we are against moving to three 11-16 sites for a number of reasons. It is not what the public wants (as evidenced by the public consultation responses), it provides very little flexibility for the future; it is very disruptive through the transition period and may adversely affect our students' education. We agree that this level of disruption and change on top of the Department's proposals would add too much risk,' said Deputy Sillars.

Under the Department's proposals the rebuild of the La Mare de Carteret schools would begin later this year, including a 600 pupil High School (with the flexibility to extend to 960 in the future should this be required), a 420 pupil Primary School, pre-school nursery, enhanced sports facilities, the communication and autism centre and community facilities.

If the States agree, the construction of the schools should be complete by September 2018 with the sports facilities and parking completed by September 2019.

The delay to the start of construction does mean that the overall cost of the redevelopment has increased because of the impact of building inflation (an increase of between £3 and £4M since November 2014). However, the resulting review of the design means that it will be much easier and more cost effective to extend La Mare de Carteret High School in the future should that be necessary (e.g. because of increasing student numbers).

The Department's detailed Policy Letter outlines the feedback received through the public consultation and includes a full report and analysis of the responses received. (available online at www.education.gg/ysycproposals )

Deputies will be debating the proposals at their meeting beginning on 8th March. If the Department receives the necessary approvals and the plans are not amended in any way, any changes would not be implemented until September 2019 to coincide with the completion of the new La Mare de Carteret schools and the end of the current funding agreement with the grant-aided Colleges. This means that the first children to be affected by any change will be those currently in Year 3.

'We appreciate there is a lot to digest, so we have tried to provide an easy to read set of Frequently Asked Questions to help the public and States Members understand our proposals and the reasons behind them. We will be holding a number of presentations for different groups including two public meetings on Monday 8th and Monday 15th February at St Sampson's High School, both starting at 7.30pm. We will be happy to answer any questions at those meetings,' said Deputy Sillars.

You can also send any questions or comments to office@education.gov.gg