15th November 2023
The States debate on the 2024 Budget is yet to conclude and we take this opportunity to write to you jointly following the adjournment last Thursday. We are in the unusual situation of being partway through debate on two specific and critical Amendments being discussed and debated concurrently which seek to secure funding for the continuation of the Transforming Education Programme. This break gives us some time to reflect, take stock of the debate to date and further time to talk to you seeking to allay the concerns expressed in debate.
At times throughout this political term, as two Deputies we have found ourselves on different sides of the debate, including our positions on the future model of Secondary and Post-16 Education in Guernsey back in 2021. There have been numerous debates about the delivery of education in a post-selection environment and we both hear Deputies’ concerns and recognise and accept that there is no perfect solution which suits all ideals. It will ever be thus that in deciding upon a direction of travel there will always be pros and cons. We both support and commend the democratic effort of colleagues, including those who have presented alternatives.
The time has really come now to draw a line and accept the democratic will of the Assembly having openly debated and approved the delivery model twice and to allow the well-advanced roll out of the reorganisation plans to continue unfettered by threats of reversal or de-funding.
Our common-held views on the value of education, skills and the importance of human capital for the economy and community have brought us to work together and enabled us to remain open-minded and try to find ways to move forward. Following the Funding and Investment Plan debate in October, we have worked together, and with other colleagues, to find a solution that would address the funding concerns raised by the Assembly to enable the progress of the Transforming Education Programme. We believe that this is something all of you also wish to do, albeit there may be differences in opinion over how to get there and it is these differences we need to put aside now.
Education was the defining topic of the election and perhaps has been one of the most divisive issues for this Assembly, not dissimilar to other terms. The looming Motion of No Confidence vote may also be bringing further political uncertainty.
Perhaps political uncertainty is the game in town when we are in politics, but when we are debating to and fro about Education, the ultimate casualties are the students, the staff and the families, who have to live with this uncertainty day after day, year after year. Children do not get a second chance at their education and the real sunk cost is the years of under-investment in education lost to them, that will never be recouped.
Collaboration, professional engagement without judgement where we can come together, representing our community finding common ground and good solutions? Shouldn’t this be seen as positively, as a time for change? There has been much call for working together in this Assembly, so let’s “walk the talk” of that call. Some have said that this approach burns political capital trying to work across the divide to find a solution, but isn’t that approach expected of each of us? We write to you jointly to say that “it doesn’t have to be this way”.
This after all, is not about us as individuals and our own ambitions. As politicians we are here because we want to do good for Guernsey – in this instance continuing a polarised stance is having a real time effect on people in our community.
It’s easy to find a myriad of ways to say “no” and as an Assembly a lot of effort can be put into this, but imagine the possibilities and opportunities that reveal themselves if we tried as hard to find ways to say “yes”?
We are open to finding ways to help you say “yes” to enable the progress of the Education programme, so it does not continue going in circles for more weeks, months or years.
Our minds, calendars and diaries remain open for you to liaise with us to discuss further.
Whatever the outcome of this specific debate or the MONC we also hope that this can serve as a call for change to all Deputies in the Assembly today and in the future.
We know that working together is what the public wants, and we believe this is what Guernsey needs. We hope this letter, which calls on more members to join us, will serve as reassurance and in that regard, we are sharing this correspondence publicly.
Milly & Sasha
Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen
Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller