Vision seeks a slow-burn revolution
Thursday 21st March 2013, 3:00PM GMT.
A FEW hours before the launch of Guernsey’s Vision for Education, UK chancellor George Osborne used his Budget speech apparently to launch war on the Crown Dependencies.
Unusually mentioning the island by name, he warned those who make a living advising other people how aggressively to avoid their taxes that ‘this government is not going to let you get away with it’.
He also appeared to threaten that the UK will use its influence further to restrict tax avoidance schemes globally.
How much of this is political grandstanding – the islands have already voluntarily signed up for significant tax transparency with the UK – and how much will translate into action damaging the insular interests remains to be seen.
But Education’s vision for Guernsey’s youth was even more pertinent with its emphasis on the future, a fast-changing world and how the Bailiwick has to compete increasingly on a global stage and prepare local children for jobs that as yet do not even exist.
Coincidentally, given the Chancellor’s comment, it says: ‘Our world has moved in a new direction – and education must keep pace.’
As such, it is a visionary document and its starting point – unusually for a departmental report – is to support the States Strategic Plan and dovetail with corporate initiatives providing for the health, social, education and welfare needs of the community.
In other words, for the first time in over a decade, Education is looking to become joined up, with learning, inclusion, excellence, responsibility and accountability as its watchwords.
At first glance, the vision lacks substance – aspiration over action. A closer read, however, indicates that if carried out this represents slow-release revolution.
A focus on inclusion, excellence of leadership and teachers, local management of schools, proper scrutiny and accountability, a review of where the 11-plus fits within an ethos geared to tertiary education… The old order may not have ended, but the bell is tolling.
What matters next is how Education and the States decide to put the vision into practice – and fund it.
It is the right way forward for the island in a world that, as the chancellor reminded us, is changing rapidly.
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