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Govt ‘rushing education revolution’, Llamas’ survey suggests

A preview into the results of the education survey launched by Independent MP Lawrence Llamas has revealed that two thirds of respondents believe the Gibraltar Government is rushing its ‘education revolution’.

The survey remains open until January 31 but Mr Llamas explained that the response thus far has been “overwhelming” with a total of 802 respondents having completed it including 431 parents and 146 from the teaching or education profession.

“Clearly, parents and education professionals are expressing concern at the manner in which this is all happening, which is not to say that they are not happy with the fact that something is happening,” Mr Llamas said yesterday.

“A widely held view is that the system needs changing but it is also abundantly clear that teachers and other education professionals feel left out.”

The results of the survey, thus far, show that 81% of educational professionals who were polled and offered a view on whether they agreed that the Government had consulted sufficiently with relevant stakeholders in the development of these plans, disagreed with that view.

Some 70% also ‘completely disagree’ that the Government is taking its time to ensure that plans for educations are carried out correctly, with the minimum amount of disruption, and in a manner which puts school children first.

In what can be considered a damning assessment of the motivations of the Government, 62% of the respondents taking the survey considered that, on balance, it was electoral timetabling that has driven the Government to make this kind of investment in education, at this time and in this manner.

“It must be in the interests of our children’s education that the people who are on the front line of educating them should play a substantial role in shaping and defining the future of education in Gibraltar as it must also be for their parents,” Mr Llamas said.

“We all have a stake in this and our views should not be sacrificed on the altar of electoral expediency,” he added.

By way of background Mr Llamas explained that since the Government announced their education plans, members of the community, mainly teachers and parents, have expressed concern to him.

These concerns have cantered around the “unreasonably fast pace” at which these plans are expected to be implemented and the concept of a mega school campus housing two independent secondary schools.

“At the first opportunity in November, I filed Parliamentary questions regarding these plans,” he said.

“In particular I asked whether a formal consultation would be carried out.”

“It became clear that the plans were being rushed and the Government would not be conducting a formal consultation in which the affected people could voice their opinions and concerns.”

“In response to the perceived lack of consultation I conducted a survey of my own which was launched on the 9th January allowing teachers, parents and anyone with an interest in the plans to voice their opinions anonymously.”

Further results from the survey show that with regards to Co-education, 79% of respondents are in favour of the change in secondary education.

Respondents have also been asked whether they feel there has been sufficient consultation with stakeholders.

The overall result, so far, is “significant and very telling” given that a majority, (56%) are of the view that there has not been sufficient consultation, with 24% being unsure.

However, Mr Llamas said, when you break this figure up the results are even more significant given that 63% of teachers feel there has not been enough consultation with just 17% agreeing there has been.

“This is a significant marker from the survey so far and supports the view I held originally,” he added.

The survey also highlights concerns relating to traffic management, disruption to children's education and the ‘duress’ teachers may be placed under in the implementation of these plans.

Analysis of key points when you extract the ‘Not sure’ votes show that 69% of education professionals so far are not satisfied that the Government has set out clearly enough what the benefits of its plans for the ‘revolution’ in education will be.

Co-education at secondary level is backed by an overall 76% of those who have participated thus far.

This includes 80% of education professionals who offered a view so far are in favour of the introduction of co-education at the secondary level although a message of caution is transpiring with 59% of these having expressed concerns about its implementation, Mr Llamas said.

The introduction of hot-meals holds different views amongst parents and teachers with 84% of parents in favour of this policy, however, the education profession is split currently showing 51% in favour.

85% of education professionals who offered a view on whether the education system in Gibraltar was in need of a change agreed that there was a need.

Of these changes, when asked about the idea of having both comprehensives in the same location, a significant 63% of those polled expressed dissatisfaction with the idea.

About the same proportion (62%) were dissatisfied with the idea of retaining the two hierarchies .

In fact, 67% of those education professionals polled who offered a view were in agreement with the idea that the secondary schools could be split into a lower and upper secondary school arrangement.

With regards to the locations of these schools, parents are not yet providing a clear result either way, however 60% of the education professional are not in agreement with the locations planned.

In relation to the school year re-alignments a full 78% of those polled said that they were not satisfied with the amount of consultation there had been with stakeholders.

In relation to the plans for St Martin’s, a compelling 83% of those polled indicated that they were not satisfied with the level of consultation with the parents of Special Educational Needs (SEN) children and the number is the same for education professionals involved in the provision special educational needs services.

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