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Opinion & Analysis

Education - the benevolent revolution

By Dr John Cortes

Education is a serious matter. It is something that cannot be left to just happen. It has to improve, to evolve and respond to our growing understanding of how children and young people learn, what new opportunities there are, and how we can best guide them to maximise their personal potential and take their place in society. When Education is lagging behind, it needs a revolution.

Already things were changing - teachers have increasingly been using project-based learning as a teaching tool. This aligns perfectly with our modern education philosophy - topics, situations, current issues have the ingredients necessary for learning across many of the traditional subjects. School must be a pleasant experience for students for them to thrive.

Our education policy therefore celebrates personal achievement without over-emphasising competition.

We have done what others promised - we introduced vocational options in the comprehensives for those who prefer them or who don’t perform as well in the more academic subjects.

We are providing options and making it clear that it is just as acceptable to do a level 2 in Hair and Beauty, Digital Technology or Construction as it is to do History, French or Geography.

Our new traineeships, partnered with City and Guilds, via the Gibraltar College, extend this concept to older students.

The digital teaching and learning initiative is now in all primary schools and starts in secondaries next month.

We are now also providing Nursery places for all who want them - no stressing about whether your child will get a place. We have also improved our nursery facilities.

We have introduced co-education. Girls and boys will now follow the same courses together, and I know this will have many positive repercussions in our society and certainly in respect of the gender imbalance present in certain sectors.

Mental health in schools has been another strong focus of ours. We have analysed the issues, trained teachers, developed protocols, and recruited Gibraltar’s first ever full-time school counsellors to help children and support teachers in dealing with mental health. We will, if elected, increase this to six counsellors and engage two more educational psychologists.

Six schools are now built. We are going to build six more equally magnificent ones.

All of these changes will have a profound effect on teaching and learning. At last, the teachers - who have brilliantly borne the brunt of the frontline work on all of this - will feel resourced and supported in the invaluable work that they do for future generations.

We know the direction Education needs to go in. We’re winning on all of this for the sake of our children. Let’s work together to create the best Gibraltar we can be: a #greenGibraltar, a child friendly city, with better opportunities and quality of life for all.

On October 17th, vote for all TEN GSLP/Liberal candidates. We will not let you down! I will not let you down!