At the full IW Council meeting this week, in my new role as cabinet member responsible for children’s services and education, I was asked a question by Benson Hardy, who is chairman of the Island’s Youth Council and our deputy Youth MP.
I thanked him as his question raised the issue of standards in our schools. It was good to be able to receive a question that, amongst the maelstrom of comment and opinion that has been circulating in recent months, focussed on the real and key issue that should be considered whenever we talk about schools.
Whatever other issues or influences there might be, it is of fundamental importance that we focus on the education standards and achievements of our young people.
There is a lot of good work going on in this regard. Targeted education projects took place last year, they achieved strong results with much steeper improvement trajectories than national results. Revised versions of these projects, enhanced in response to feedback, are being delivered through the current year and have a sharp focus on increasing academic achievement. As I said in the council chamber, I thank our headteachers and school staff for all their relentless hard work in this regard. However, whilst we have made a lot of progress, there is much more to do.
If we are not the best, we can always be better. Education standards are comparative and not about absolute measures. The education of our young people is too important for there to be any element of complacency, and certainly too important for any other issues to be given primacy in the thought, planning and activity that takes place. Obviously, we are in a time of change in the management of our education system on the Island. However, this gives the opportunity for further review and the injection of new ideas in the new year.
I want to ensure that whatever issues we need to, and will, deal with, the core aim is to support our schools to achieve the very best we can for all of our Island children.