An independent review into the funding of education in Jersey – the first of its kind in almost three decades – has called for an extra £8.5 million, with an additional £3.1 million required to plug deficits.
The investment, which will have to be approved by the States Assembly, is part of a programme of reform which the government says will give Jersey a "world-class" system.
Commissioned by the Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, the Independent School Funding Review has concluded that additional funding of £8.5m is needed for education in Jersey. Additional pressures have added a further £3.1m of deficit, resulting in an updated requirement of £11.6m.
Pictured: Senator Tracey Vallois, the Education Minister, is hoping to secure an extra £11.6 million for her department.
In order to address this underfunding, the Government Plan for 2021 proposes earmarking an additional £7.9m to fund education which will rise to £11.6m over the next four years.
In total, the Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) department allocates £88.4m a year to education for four to 18-year olds. However due to significant deficits in the system, an additional £2.4m was spent by schools last year.
The Independent School Review identified a number of issues with the current funding system, suggesting a more inclusive model would be based on the students’ needs, with more autonomy being given to schools as to how they manage their budget.
Pictured: The Review called for a more inclusive model that would be based on the students’ needs.
The current funding model has reduced schools’ “ability to budget well for their children and led to ever increasing complexity” the review noted.
It suggested an additional £656,000 be spent on Special Educational Needs (SEN) and more funding is being requested for students with low grades and English as an additional language (EAL).
The report called for more financial freedom for the schools to allow them to plan their finances over a longer term, rather than having to spend their budget before the end of the financial year.
Pictured: La Moye's John Baudains also heads up Bel Royal School; and Les Landes' Vicki Charlesworth is also in charge at St Peter's School.
The review also suggested practical steps that could be taken to improve the local education system. Among those is the sharing of staff between schools, an initiative previously piloted with the headteachers of La Moye School and Les Landes School having taken over another local primary in September.
The Education Minister said such collaboration between schools will have to be “carefully managed”, taking into account the wellbeing of the staff and the outcomes for the students.
“The idea behind it, one of the really important outcomes that we could achieve for students would be that collaboration between schools, because they are learning from each other, they can learn from people who are leading by example and some have learned different ways of teaching that would be very beneficial,” she said.
To make the system more efficient, mergers between schools have also been suggested to address the issue of schools operating under capacity, such as D’Auvergne, or of secondary schools struggling to deliver a full curriculum.
Pictured: Money could be saved by merging schools or sharing facilities.
To make savings, the review encouraged schools to share their facilities, curriculum and staffing, particularly in minority subjects and where recruitment is most challenging.
The Education Minister said that this would not happen at a “click of a finger”, and that the States Assembly would have to agree to any school closure.
“What they are talking about is could you make the service more efficient by having one school with more pupils in and therefore having more expertise in certain subjects, secondary schools are a perfect example, where you’ve got your science, your maths, your French, all those specific subjects they are concentrated in,” she explained.
The Minister went on to say that considering mergers would be a “big piece of work”, that would include looking at the demand, especially for primary schools.
Alluding to Springfield School, she added: “It’s a great school and very community-based but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best way, especially when you are having to do admissions and allocations for children.”
The Government Plan will be debated in the States Assembly in December.
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