School closures: More detail needed

The announcement of the closure of a number of primary concerns has unsurprisingly yielded a string of concerned gut reactions from the public.  The largest issue with the proposed closures are not the closures themselves but the way the idea has been communicated to the public.  Indeed, it could be a colossal mistake just as it easily could be a brilliant and necessary cost saving measure.  The problem, at present, is that the public hates the idea and that’s largely due to how it came to view and the utter lack of any suggested details or plan forwards.

The announcement to close primary schools is rather shocking.  Primary schools aren’t the ones underperforming and the suggestion that another massive high school should be created risks repeating the same mistakes of the past when high schools were consolidated into behemoths.  While the announcement lacks teeth at this stage government needs to carefully balance public opinion with the need to cut unnecessary costs.  To sacrifice one or the other would be terribly unfortunate.

What we’re lacking most is a clear cut justification as to why these schools should be closed.  Where are the supporting numbers to back up claims of fiscal savings with evidence?  Where are the supporting numbers to showcase that the best performing schools are not the ones being sacrificed?  Where are the numbers to showcase that the best teachers will be retained?  Where is the plan for how things will be consolidated such that we can be confident that things will go smoothly.  While admittedly government could well have been in the process of preparing these details prior to the leak it could also be surmised that an individual involved had their own concerns and opted to leak the info to the press to slow things down.  The best defense the government can make at this point is to start supporting their reasoning with facts and clear evidence that this is a well planned move and not a gong show.

In a breaking news piece in The Royal Gazette, island Principals lay out their demands for the information they need in order to appreciate and accept the decision to close various schools.  Subsequently here is a list of things that would likely be helpful to their case if presented in the form of a statistical breakdown.  One such that all primary schools are included by means of comparison so that we can be clear as to the logic behind why it is necessary to close a specific few.

Cost of school per student

Average student performance and progression

Average teacher experience

Average teacher salary

Number of students

Number of teachers

Average student/teacher ratio per class

Average student performance per ratio

Undoubtedly many more metrics could be proposed and provided to help provide a clearer picture.  Certainly a much better case could be made if such metrics were as government needs all the help it can get in saving face on this move.

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