After the recent appointment to the Education Service of a lead for Curriculum Standards – a job created from 2 old posts from staff who left the service last year – I had concerns raised with me about the process, or the bypassing of process, that this appointment took.
This is one of a catalogue of errors in good governance and the lack of responses, notwithstanding the heavy caveat of having to seek legal advice, to questions 1-10 is concerning, because it keeps us in the dark when we are calling for transparency and openness.
The second section of questions provide lots of information but reading between the lines the message is clear “We don’t like the new Curriculum and we are out to change it”.
The curriculum is in my opinion one of the best things to hit Guernsey’s education system, well since it became an “institution”.
It has brought our teaching into the 21st Century and aims to equip our children with the skills they need in the big wide world. Every year we are bidding farewell to another cohort of kids and welcoming these adults in training into the world of work.
I spend a lot of my waking hours in businesses and with businesses. They are saying that they want skills from these young people – useful skills: digital and alongside that “soft” skills of resilience, confidence, ability to learn etc. The new curriculum really hones down on these and alongside teaching content, it prioritises literacy, numeracy and digital as key skills. Why then are the current ESC Committee so committed to unpicking this necessary and forward facing evolution in our education system and so insistent on holding us and our your people back?
I have copied and pasted the Questions and Answers below.
REPLY BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE COMMITTEE FOR EDUCATION, SPORT & CULTURE TO QUESTIONS ASKED PURSUANT TO RULE 14 OF THE RULES OF PROCEDURE BY DEPUTY A DUDLEY-OWEN
Rule 14 Questions and Responses
Please note that the replies to questions which concern the employment of a specific officer draw heavily upon legal advice obtained by the Committee, including in relation to the need to respect an employee’s reasonable expectation of confidentiality.
Deputy Dudley-Owen statement: A new Head of Curriculum and Standards was recently recruited for Education Services [Education Office].
Question 1. How many people applied for the job?
Answer The role was advertised locally and nationally. Eight applications were received.
Question 2. How many people were interviewed for the role?
Answer Four applicants were short listed and interviewed.
Question 3. How many applicants were already based in Guernsey and how many were not?
Answer Four applicants were based in Guernsey.
Question 4. Were any of the applicants already employed in education by the States of Guernsey?
Answer Some of the applicants were States of Guernsey Employees.
Question 5. Were the applicants graded after interview?
Answer Yes. All interviewed applicants were assessed by the interview panel in line with usual practice.
Question 6. Was the ultimate successful candidate, Mrs Sealy, the panel’s first choice? 7. If not, was the panel’s first choice offered the position? 8. Was Mrs Sealy the panel’s second choice? 9. What areas of Mrs Sealy’s long educational experience in inner-city London teaching the English National Curriculum have relevance to the work that she will be undertaking in Guernsey?
Answer The ranking of candidates after interview is never published. This is because applicants have a reasonable expectation of confidentiality about the details of their applications and the recruitment process in which they took part. Questions 6 to 9 above request information which, if provided, might as well result in job interviews being held in public.
Deputy Dudley-Owen statement: The Guernsey Curriculum for Excellence was introduced in September 2017. Teachers from primary, secondary and special schools have worked together to design the curriculum. The curriculum has been under scrutiny by the current ESC Committee since they took their seats.
Question 10. Does the Committee want to make any changes to the current new Curriculum?
Answer The Bailiwick Curriculum is continuing to evolve. This should come as no surprise: when the Committee took office in February 2018 it was advised that the Curriculum was not a finished product and that there was always an intention for it to be developed further. It is likely that the ongoing development of the Curriculum will continue to be a key priority for some time. In particular, the first iteration of the Curriculum was very largely focused on skills and there has been and there remains a need to add key content and knowledge alongside skills.
Question 11. If so, what are these changes and what evidence has been used to support the case for change in such a new program?
Answer There are several reasons for development of the Curriculum to focus on adding key content and knowledge alongside skills. There is much evidence collected internationally that a solely or largely skills-based approach leads to declining standards and outcomes; it inevitably and sometimes unnecessarily adds to teachers’ workload; and research about how children learn supports an approach which recognises the importance of skills and knowledge.
The Committee fully supports the aims of the Curriculum introduced in 2017 – to develop students who can think critically, solve problems and be creative and who will become responsible citizens and contribute effectively to our society, etc. Achieving these aims requires careful consideration about what students learn as well as how they learn. For example, evidence shows that skills such as critical thinking are domain-specific (or subjectspecific) and dependent on background knowledge: we cannot think critically about subjects of which we know next to nothing. Students are best able to think critically when they are able to make connections between new information and prior knowledge.
For students to be able to make connections between different topics, the curriculum must be carefully sequenced, i.e. learning must build on prior learning. Teachers need to know what has come before and what is coming next in order that they can help students to make links. Without careful sequencing of content, there is a likelihood of unnecessary repetition, which apart from wasting valuable time can also lead to disengagement or unintentional gaps in the topics studied by students. This is a particular risk in the transition between primary and secondary school and can limit progress in Key Stage 3 (the early phase of secondary education).
International evidence suggests that when content is more loosely defined (or not defined) – as is the case when a curriculum is largely skills based – there is a decline in overall standards and an increase in inequality of outcomes between students from more and less privileged backgrounds. This would be unacceptable educationally, socially, economically and morally.
The development of the Curriculum will aim to retain its existing benefits, including the focus on wider outcomes and the involvement of teachers, whilst learning lessons from, and avoiding the mistakes of, jurisdictions which have experiences of similar curricula, such as Scotland, France and Ontario.
Question 12. Has the Committee set up any working group with the primary aim to look at the curriculum? If not, why not? If so, what is the constitution of this group?
Answer The Committee has maintained an existing working group – the Curriculum Development Group – which is led by teachers from primary and secondary schools. During the current academic year this Group, working with subject leads and department heads, has established key content for a number of subject areas. This work has been invaluable in maintaining the ongoing development of the Curriculum.
In addition, the Committee has set up a Curriculum, Assessments & Inspections Steering Group which includes the President and one other Member of the Committee, educationalists from the Office of the CfESC and senior school leaders from the primary and secondary phase. This Steering Group oversees the development and implementation of the Committee’s policy agenda in relation to curriculum, student assessments and school and college inspections.
In the near future the lead officer for all of this work will be the newly-appointed Head of Curriculum & Standards. She takes up her post full time in late August.
Question 13. Have any of the original curriculum development team been included on this group? If not, why not?
Answer The Committee has not directed any changes to the membership of the Curriculum Development Group. There are staff in the Group who have been involved in developing the Curriculum for a number of years. This continuity has supported the progress made in the development of key subject-specific content.
The Curriculum, Assessments & Inspections Steering Group includes the chair of the Curriculum Development Group, who was a member of the original curriculum development team.
Question 14. How does this group intend to engage and consult with the teachers currently delivering the curriculum that many of them co-designed and are currently delivering?
Answer Engagement with teachers is encouraged through workshops and other meetings. There have been several during the current academic year. There will be more during the next academic year.
Question 15. Senior Leadership at Education Services [Education Office] Please provide an organogram of the senior leadership team in the service.
Answer The senior leadership team is as follows:
Question 16. Are there any senior leadership roles currently vacant at Education Services [Education Office]?
Answer There is one remaining vacancy to fill, that of Executive Principal for the Guernsey Institute.
Question 17. Is there any gap in staff taking up those roles between now and when their fulltime contract begins in the future?
Answer The new Director of Education commences post part time in June 2019 and full time from August 2019. The Head of Curriculum and Standards commences post in August.
Question 18. If so, what risk analysis has been done in regards to ensuring that there is sufficient senior cover to fulfil legal responsibility such as pupil and teacher safety during any intervening period?
Answer The Chief Executive has carried out a risk analysis which resulted in an interim senior team being established on 13 May 2019. This team is in place until 1 September 2019 and therefore includes the summer holidays during which time schools are closed to staff and pupils.
The interim senior team is as follows:
Chief Secretary Director of Operations (Education) Head of Inclusion & Services for Children and Schools (this role continues beyond the interim period) Senior Responsible Officer – Transformation Programme (until 1st August) Support Services from business partners for IT; Finance; and HR (these roles continue as per the permanent arrangement).
Please note, as a result of this risk analysis, the Head of Inclusion and Services for Children and Schools has been able to take up the role earlier than originally planned.
Question 19. What is the result of this risk analysis?
Answer With the interim team in place, all risks have been substantially mitigated and school leaders know who to contact should they require support from now until the start of the summer break.
Date of receipt of the Question: 14TH May 2019 Date of Reply: 7th June 2019