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GTA sets out concerns in detailed document

Press Call on New Schools programme 2017 ( Photo John Bugeja) 26-10-17 where details of several new schools announce by CM, DCM and Hon John Cortes

The Gibraltar Teachers Association has claimed that consultation with teachers over the Gibraltar Government’s proposed plans for education on the Rock has gone into ‘overdrive’, having previously bemoaned the lack of engagement on the issue.

This is the latest exchange in the long-running row between the GTA, the Government and senior teachers over issues surrounding and connected with the Government’s ‘schools revolution’ amid plans to rebuild or refurbish all schools in time for the start of term in 2019.

In an eight-page document, The GTA details teachers’ concerns surrounding the lack of consultation in areas such as co-education, teacher training and support, security and sharing facilities. The full statement can be read on the Chronicle’s website.

In the document, the GTA underscored the importance for all stakeholders in the education system to be fully aware of the concerns that many teachers and indeed the union have about the changes to education that are set to be implemented by the current administration.

The union recently highlighted the lack of consultation of teachers by Government in the decision to co-locate both secondary schools on one large campus-style site in the Waterport area.

However, the GTA said there has also been a lack of consultation in other more important areas of education, such as the alignment of the key stages, the drive for the introduction of vocational education, changes in the curriculum, and the wider educational impact of co-education.

The Official Side maintains that consultation has happened, and that it cannot have a referendum based approach to enacting changes to education.

The union believes that having only senior leaders at the table and not a cross-section of classroom teachers, middle managers and senior leaders is a mistake that may come back to haunt society in years to come.

The union feels that a truly consultative process may have taken too long, making the ambitious deadlines to build new schools and implementing changes difficult, if not impossible for the Government to achieve.

“Here we must reflect on whether the most important thing is to fulfil a manifesto promise in the quickest time possible or to ensure that changes to our education system, which will affect our youth for decades to come, are done properly and with as much consensus as possible,” the GTA said.

The union claimed that teachers now find themselves in a situation where consultation has gone into overdrive, with teachers being asked to lead in the design of their respective working areas, sometimes in lengthy after school meetings with the project managers.

“This consultation, although welcome to some extent, is not the consultation that can influence education itself and which the Union and teachers have been calling for.”

“Teachers wanted to be consulted on the reforms to education and not just on building specifications,” it added.

“This is why we believe that it is important that the general public be aware that when the Government speaks of teachers being consulted, and the Union speaks of teachers not being consulted, we are referring to two different types of consultation.”

“On the more important type of consultation where teachers, not as designers, but as educators needed to be involved, the official side has chosen to ignore the expert advice of 380 professionals,” the union said.

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