No second chance for next year
Monday 2nd September 2013, 4:00PM BST.
AS THE controversy about the GCSE exam results continues, it is clear that for many islanders – and experts, as the letter on this page confirms – the central issue behind the poor showing is management, leadership and teaching.
At this stage, the blame is directed at the Education Department, as its minister is only too aware. That wasn’t helped by his initial insistence that a new school for La Mare would put things right. The online howls of derision to that were deafening.
What is clear is that exam results are now regarded by islanders as a litmus test of the effectiveness of government generally and of Education in particular and that they view poor results as a failure to do the best for the island’s children.
In short, until things improve to a level that is acceptable to the electorate as a whole, GCSEs will remain a live and potentially painful issue for politicians and civil servants.
Quite why this wasn’t understood by Education, with its own in-house PR capability, is anyone’s guess. But the communications have been as mishandled as the results themselves.
La Mare had its second best ever set of results but Education did nothing to set the scene for results that, almost by definition, had to be worse than the previous year when so much extra help was poured into the schools.
We now know why the last director of education resisted so strongly the release of results — it puts a withering focus on the performance of Grange House and the political board in the absence of local management of schools.
It is, therefore, what the board and its minister do next that will lay the foundations for how they and their staff are judged this time next year.
Islanders and pupils need a clear explanation of what happened this summer and why the results of 2012 weren’t – despite all expectations – the start of much needed improvements.
Beyond that, the minister has to set out a road map of how he and his team will tackle the learning and attainment issues presented and the alarming allegations of classroom disruption.
‘Could do better’ simply will not wash in 2014.