The key issues identified by the Government are effective engagement with children and young people in the formulation of policy and decision-making, ensuring all children and young people have the best education available to them, improving children’s physical and mental well-being and improving the school estate.
Education in Jersey is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Young People, Education and Skills . The Jersey Curriculum is based on the new National Curriculum in England, adapted to reflect the Island’s unique heritage and environment and the needs of the local economy. The primary schools comprise 22 non-fee-paying state primary schools, two fee-paying primary schools and six fee-paying private schools. Secondary schools fall into three categories. There are four non-fee-paying state secondary schools (Grainville, Le Rocquier, Haute Vallee and Les Quennevais) which cover the 11-16 age group, and one, Hautlieu, for the 14-18 age group. There are two fee-paying state secondary schools (Victoria College and the Jersey College for Girls) and three private secondary schools (Beaulieu Convent, De La Salle College and St Michael’s School).
The Chief Minister’s Ministerial letters , published on 10 August 2022, included a letter to the Education Minister, the key part of which said –
I would like you to ensure effective engagement with our children and young people in the formulation of policy and decision-making. I believe the foundations for this are already in place through the Youth Parliament, School Councils and the consultations carried out by the Children's Commissioner. However, deepening this engagement is important. Indeed, I see it playing an important role in the overall task of improving the safety and well-being of our young people, working with them as we tackle the challenges they face.
We also need to ensure that children in all our schools have access to hot food during the school day, which is one of the 100 days actions I have set out. The Department already have plans for this, but I look forward to you progressing and accelerating its delivery.
We will also be creating a People and Skills Commission in the first 100 days. I expect your department to play an important role in the assessment of skills gaps, as well as employer engagement and the identification of employment opportunities, as part of a cross government approach to staff shortages.
As to the school estate, you have highlighted the importance of improvements, especially in town, and I strongly feel we need to expedite site decisions.
The chapter for the Minister of Education in the Ministerial plans for 2024, published on 19 September 2023, set out six priorities –
1. Ensuring all children and young people have the best education available to them, from early years through to adulthood
2. Implementing the Children and Young People’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy 2022-25 and delivering improved health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people
3. Improving our social care services for children and building on the Jersey Care Inquiry recommendations
4. Working in partnership to deliver a range of services for children and young people, families and communities
5. Establishing a strong, engaged and valued workforce working on behalf of children, young people and their families and ensuring services are delivered safely and effectively
6. Enhancing Jersey’s skills system to ensure it is responsive to the evolving needs of the economy and Islanders’ aspirations
Review of inclusive education
In December 2021 the Independent Review of Inclusive Education and early years was published. This reported many elements of good practice and a sound foundation of which to make further progress, but also highlighted some aspects of the education system that are not inclusive. The executive summary of the review stated -
During 2021, the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) undertook an Independent Review Of Inclusive Education And Early Years on behalf of the Government of Jersey (GoJ). Whilst inclusive education can be broad in its interpretation, the focus of this review was on how schools, settings and support services contribute to, or are barriers to, inclusion at a system level. A diverse range of stakeholders were engaged through the review, including children and young people (CYP) and their families.
The evidence-base collated during the review process has led the review team to conclude that whilst there is some exemplary inclusive practice within specific areas of the education system, this is not yet happening consistently because it is not sufficiently reinforced at a strategic, systemic and systematic level. This includes the prioritisation given to realising inclusion, the allocation of resources, and the underpinning policies and processes.
The review team have identified that the prevailing approach to education in Jersey is currently based on separating provision so that it aligns to the needs of different groups of children and young people. Whilst this approach is arguably underpinned by good intentions, it can be a structural barrier to achieving inclusive education.
The review describes a continuum of inclusion that moves forward from segregated provision to partial inclusion to systemic inclusion, and finally to total inclusion.
Having commissioned this review, the GoJ has clearly demonstrated its commitment to developing inclusive education in Jersey. The next step is for the GoJ to apply the inclusion implementation roadmap provided within this report to realise its preferred approach to inclusion. Implementing change of this scale in the Jersey context will inevitably present significant challenges, so it will be important to remember the overriding principle that an inclusive education system benefits not only those who are marginalised, but all children and young people.
The review then listed 50 Recommendations across 23 areas that can support Jersey to move along this continuum of inclusion.
On 16 November 2022 a press release announced that –
A project to develop a vision, charter and framework to make the Island’s education system more inclusive is underway, a year on from a key review.
A key recommendation from the nasen report was that the Island should develop a shared vision of what inclusive education is, and how it can be delivered. It also recommended that any work on inclusion should be co-produced with children, young people, and parents.
The Vision will be supported by a Charter, which will set out the key principles, and which all schools and early years providers will sign up to, and a Practice Framework which will support the development of inclusive practice across the Island.
Over the past 12 months, progress has been made against several of the recommendations made by nasen, including:
- The restructure of La Sente School and merger with La Passerelle to provide a holistic educational service provision for children and young people with Social, Emotional, and Mental Health needs.
- An independent review of mental health provision in schools, which has led to an action plan being developed in partnership with schools
- £6.1 million proposed in the Government Plan 2023 for inclusion schools, with a focus on children with special educational needs, and those with a record of need
- An Additional Resource Centre (ARC) for children with low cognitive ability launched in September at D’Auvergne, with another due to open at Le Rocquier School in 2023
- Formal training for Special Educational Needs Coordinators has been delivered in collaboration with the University of Winchester
The Independent School Funding Review was published in 2020. The Executive summary is set out below.
The Government of Jersey aspires to achieve outstanding educational outcomes for all children. This aspiration is front and centre in the 2020-23 Government Plan and the Independent School Funding Review was commissioned to identify the funding needed to achieve this. This is the final report of the review and recommends what the Government of Jersey needs to do to put children first.
Current funding for non-fee-paying education is low, at £9.2m below the level needed to match high-performing jurisdictions. With this level of funding, children on Jersey achieve academic outcomes broadly in line with England, though disadvantaged children do not currently achieve well. There are also significant mental health and wellbeing challenges for children on Jersey, particularly around anxiety. Overall, there is a significant gap between current provision and the aspiration for a world class education system.
The current low level of funding is most acute for disadvantaged children and those on vocational pathways. In 2019 the school system ran a deficit of £2.4m, and this review has identified that a further £2.8m is needed to properly fund current provision. This would also go some way to closing the gap in spending between students at fee-paying and non-fee-paying government schools, currently standing at £15k across a student’s school career.
This unsustainable financial position is reflected in both the deficits recorded by schools and the quality of provision for children. Within the £2.4m total deficit, all Jersey’s 11-16 schools and many primaries are running deficits, and the rapidly deteriorating position risks a breakdown of financial discipline in the sector if not addressed. Within schools, funding challenges make meeting the needs of the highest-needs children difficult, and this has an impact both on these students and on standards of behaviour across the school system. There is minimal budget headroom in schools for investment in the improvements in teaching and learning that would drive better outcomes.
From this starting point, reaching a world leading education system that puts children first is a journey that will take a number of years. This is also a transformation that goes well beyond funding, as evidence from the world’s top performing education systems shows that once a certain level of investment is reached there is a weak relationship between spending levels and outcomes for students. Jersey already spends above this threshold level. Looking to Finland and other top performing jurisdictions, successful reform requires a deliberate and sequenced policy agenda over at least a decade, with strong alignment of objectives, funding, governance, curriculum and teacher development. This review aims to support Jersey on this journey through:
- Recommending the funding level needed now to stabilise current provision and make the investments in teaching quality and equity to put the system on the path to sustained improvement (an additional £8.5m).
- For the medium-term, identifying the structural changes needed to resolve long standing barriers to effective use of resources in the education system and to improve standards.
- For the long-term, setting up a radically simplified funding formula that has the flexibility to support an evolving policy agenda as the education system develops and improves.
The review then set out immediate, medium term and longer-term priorities.
In publishing this report on 16 October 2020 the Education Minister announced –
The Education Reform Programme is a three-year programme of work, which will create the foundations for a high performing education system in Jersey. From these foundations, it is envisaged that we will fully realise the outcomes over the next ten years.
On 17 July 2023 the government published Jersey Funding Formula for Schools: rationale and calculations 2023 . The press release stated –
The updated formula also sets out the additional funding available to support children with a Record of Need (RON), those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), or from low-income households.
Under the previous system, school funding was allocated based on an Average Weighted Pupil Unit (APWU) methodology. APWU allocated costs to each area of spend (for example, building maintenance, teacher salaries), but did not accurately reflect the underlying needs of children attending the school which reduced schools’ ability to plan and respond to their specific needs.
The Jersey Funding Formula for Schools has been developed following the Independent School Funding Review which took place in 2020. The review recommended that Jersey adopt a simpler funding formula to offer all schools and colleges equitable and flexible budgets.
As well as allocating an increased level of funding, the new funding formula increases focus on inclusion in schools. It does this based on three main approaches:
Firstly, by allocating funding for a core set of staff to support inclusion in schools.
Secondly, by specifically targeting funding to those cohorts of children and young people with the greatest need.
Thirdly, by developing more provisions in both mainstream and special schools to align with the needs of children and young people attending those schools.
As in 2022, the formula determines how the budget is calculated for each school, providing head teachers, in the main, with discretion on how best to invest it for their school.
The updated formula comes alongside ongoing work to recruit and retain more teaching staff, teaching assistants and support staff, and underpins the critical work in policy and practice to improve inclusion in schools.
The new funding formula applies to all government-funded schools with the exception of Jersey College for Girls, Victoria College, Beaulieu School and De La Salle College. These schools will continue to use the APWU model.
Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Inna Gardiner, said: “I welcome this updated funding formula and I am pleased to share with schools and the wider community. This represents a meaningful change in delivering a more inclusive education by, amongst other changes, targeting funding more closely on the needs of individual pupils.
“This funding formula and increased investment will not change schools overnight. However, it underpins all the other work we are doing to support schools and pupils. This includes broader work on developing an Inclusion Vision and Charter, and ongoing work to hire and retain the staff we need.
“We anticipate that we still start to see change over the coming years as this funding reaches schools who can put in place the measures that will support all their children to achieve the best possible outcomes.”
In December 2022 the Government published a report Further education and Skills – Actionable Agenda . Most of the report is concerned with skills, which is outside the scope of this Brief. However, the section on 16-18 education is reproduced below –
Jersey is an outlier in several respects, in relation to 16-18 education. Most notably:
1. As noted in the Independent Review of School Funding, its level of funding for this stage of schooling is lower than most OECD nations.
2. The legally presumed age for leaving education and/or training is still 16. In all of the nations of the UK, the participation age is now 18. The same is true for most European nations.
3. There is no formal provision made for young people with special educational needs to continue in full-time education after the age of 18. The entitlement in the UK is to age 25 for this group.
Funding for full-time education of 16–18-year-olds at Highlands College is essentially historically based and re-based. The original calculation and formula upon which this allocation is made has not been updated, nor applied, for at least 10 years.
Most critically, the allocation, as currently made, does not take account of the number of students recruited, thereby presenting a potential disincentive for the College to recruit more students. It is only due to the ethics of the College Executive and Board, that this disincentive has not translated into recruitment practices.
Further, the College’s commitment to providing catch-up provision to students who have not achieved benchmark standards in English and maths at 11-16 schools is not recognised, nor is the work that it does with students with high needs and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds. All of these categories of student are over-represented at Highlands, compared to 16-18 provision in schools and Hautlieu.
The Independent Review of School Funding also concluded that 16–18-year-olds at Highlands College received less per capita funding than the same age group in schools, including Hautlieu. This has clear implications for the regard in which vocational education is held compared to academic provision and is deeply unfair given overall level of disadvantage amongst students at the College.
Curriculum provision at Highlands College is wide and achievement rates compare well to the best colleges in each of the four UK nations. But the mix of provision is not subject to any formal external oversight or accountability. Hence, the degree to which the curriculum is shaped by labour market need is guided by college staff and leaders, and particularly by the capabilities of existing staff. In this form, it risks being student-centric without necessarily being employer-centric.
Though provision to young people who are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) is high quality, identification and referral of such young people is not joined up between Government departments. Moreover, without any legal requirement for young people to be in education or employment with training up to age 18, there is no formal basis for NEET prevention.
The report concludes with 36 recommendations. Those on 16-19 technical education are –
1. Raise the participation age to age 18, with a corresponding entitlement and requirement for all young people to be in full-time education, or employment with training.
2. Young people that do not gain a level 3 qualification by age 18 to have the option of continuing full-time education until age 19.
3. Young people with special education needs to be entitled to full-time education until age 25.
4. Funding to follow the learner for all 16–19-year-olds (and up to age 25 for SEND), based upon a transparent formula.
5. Provide additional funding beyond core funding for young people who do not achieve a benchmark standard in English and Maths. These young people to receive tuition in English and maths in addition to their core technical or academic studies.
6. The curricula mix offered at Highlands College to be subject to consultation with JEG.
The Ministerial Plan included: “taking forward the actions recommended in the recent Further Education and Skills White Paper and proposed changes to higher education funding.”