Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A New School Day is about to dawn

A consultation is out, and Les Quennevais is now one step closer.

"It is now ten years since the feasibility study was carried out so it makes sense to revisit it in the light of changes that have taken place over the past decade. Les Quennevais was originally built for a maximum of 500 pupils. The facilities have been extended over the years and the school now has about 780 students but the site footprint remains the same. Pupil numbers are kept under review and future predictions are used to inform our planning."

That was said when the school was under review by Deputy Patrick Ryan, who told the Parish Magazine that in 2012. Unfortunately, he did nothing at all about it during his time as Education Minister - these were, in the memorable phrase used by Churchill, the years that the locust ate. Deputy Ryan appeared to be virtually paralysed by seeing how his predecessor, Deputy James Reed, had been hung out to dry by the Council of Ministers after making radical changes to educational funding of private schools, and rather like Jim Hacker, was wary of doing anything, in case it was the wrong thing. Fortunately Deputy Rod Bryans is not one to let the grass grow under his feet, and has been planning action from day one of his tenure as Education Minister.

The note Patrick Ryan made about 780 students was correct, except that now the numbers are now greater at around 900. The picture above shows how much extra space is needed. And there is a bulge in pupil numbers now coming up through primary schools, and there are new housing estates coming on line in St Brelade, all of which mean extra pupils.

In fact, as we can see from the above demographic, the majority of pupils, almost half, are in St Brelade. This is why it makes sense to look for a St Brelade site, and preferrably one close enough to the centres of population - the urban heart of this semi-urban Parish - so that pupils can get to school as far as possible without the need for school transport.

Another view of the data from the consultation is given above. If it seems strange that some small pockets of pupils are spread across rather distant Parishes, it must be remembered as a rule that if a pupil is attending a secondary school, with their peers, and teachers taking a particular time table, it is not considered good policy to wrench them from that school and place them elsewhere, even if their family has moved. The very distant dots, then, represent the demographic movements across the Island of pupils families.

In a later blog, I'll be looking at the sites under consideration, but for now I wanted to concentrate on the statistics. As a mathematician, statistics are my food and drink!

But a consultation has finally started, and I am sure there will be a much needed new Les Quennevais school in the not to distant future. As the school celebrates

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