Deputies must look to long-term
Tuesday 24th September 2013, 4:00PM BST.
THE contrasting reactions of the parents of the schools threatened with imminent closure and those due for review within five to 10 years is an object lesson for deputies.
While emotions are running understandably high for the parents of St Sampson’s Infants and St Andrew’s to the point of Saturday’s headline hyperbole – ‘I’ll fight to the death’ – the parents of the Forest and La Houguette are more sanguine.
Firstly, of course, it is always easier to engage with an immediate and real threat rather than a hypothetical and distant one. Secondly, the
children of many current parents will have left the Forest and La Houguette by the time of the review.
States members must adopt the same dispassionate approach, ignore the hype and assess what is best for the island. It is the long-term ramifications of the decision that should be uppermost in their minds come 30 October, not the short-term hysteria.
Without the heat, the questions become much simpler.
Does the island need to close schools?
Yes. Carrying 500-800 spare places is an extraordinary waste of money at any time, let alone now.
Are these the right schools to close?
Sadly, for St Sampson’s Infants, the answer has to be yes. It is too expensive and there is a good argument that it is disruptive to the children to change schools aged 7 (to the Vale) and 11 (to secondary school). It is dearly loved by its current crop of parents, who see only the effect on their own children, but if it is not these children it will be classes of the future affected.
St Andrew’s has a stronger case.
In all the criteria, apart from site and size, it performs well. To advocate its closure deputies must agree with Education’s central premise that single-form schools are not good environments to learn in, that St Andrew’s does well despite its size, not because of it.
The board believe in that and are principled enough not to have adopted the obvious cynical ploy of delaying St Andrew’s closure by a few more years, thereby silencing much of the opposition.