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Govt hits back at GTA claims

The Gibraltar Government last night hit back at claims by the Gibraltar Teachers Association that teaching staff have not been consulted on aspects of the plans for the new schools including their locations.

The Government expressed ‘disappointment’ after the GTA executive, in an interview with the Chronicle, indicated that the Government’s failure to consult with teachers had left the vast majority staff unhappy with the plans.

According to the union, none of the staff at Westside, Governor’s Meadow, Bishops Fitzgerald and St Martin’s schools are happy with the plans as they currently stand.

But responding to those comments, the Government insisted that it is involved in a wide ranging consultation process with the teaching profession regarding the planned new schools.

Teachers are actively involved in the preparing of the designs, the Government said as it flagged how the designs for Notre Dame, Westside and Bayside schools have been signed off by the head teachers and the design for the comprehensives was in fact signed off by the head teachers on Tuesday.

“The process now continues with the remainder of the schools,” a Government statement read.

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No. 6 Convent Place further claimed that consultation has extended beyond teachers to include support staff.

In the case of St Martin’s, it said, parents also visited the proposed site for the new school and expressed their excitement at what was planned.

No. 6 added that concerns expressed by the GTA were replied to in writing by the Minister for Education, Dr John Cortes, on December 18, 2017.

In this letter Dr Cortes explained the process so far and expressed the Government’s commitment to continuing full consultation.

To date, the Minister has not received a reply from the GTA, No. 6 said.

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The new schools will coincide with the introduction of co-education, the realignment of school years in order to benefit the educational programme, the widening of the school curriculum, and an increase in provision for the youngest pupils.

“The Government will continue to consult the teaching profession as the plans for the future have to be the best possible for our children for the next half century and we must all get it right.”

“We must prioritise all matters relating to education and not limit ourselves to issues such as parking,” the Government said.
No. 6 added that it is “putting pupils first” and added that it is convinced it is “at one” with the teachers.

Dr Cortes said: “I have met many times with the GTA, both formally and informally, and they know how much we listen and take account of their views.”

“Many of the points raised were answered in my extensive letter to the GTA and I look forward to discussing this with them when they reply.”

“The feeling that I sense when I go round the schools and talk to teachers, the older pupils, and indeed parents, is that there is huge excitement and enthusiasm for what lies ahead.”

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