Education and Young People
“Reform Jersey believes in an inclusive education service which provides young people with all the opportunities they need to achieve their potential, irrespective of their family background, and a settled, motivated workforce providing the highest quality of education. Young people growing up in Jersey should be supported by the States and the wider community to enable them to be safe, to thrive and be happy.”
At 2.6% of GDP, funding for education in Jersey is one of the lowest in the world. The Education Department has been cut to the bone by the current government and is not capable of finding further savings without damaging the quality of service provided to our young people. We must invest in our young people, not just to ensure we have the skilled workforce we need for a healthy economy, but to enable them to live happy lives and achieve their aspirations. Children’s wellbeing must not come second to achieving academic targets.
The findings of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry have made it clear that improving our children’s services must be one of the top priorities of the next government. We commit to implementing all the recommendations made in their report.
Reform Jersey has opposed means-testing nursey places and continues to believe that providing free access to nursery places for as many children as possible is in the best interests of families and the economy. The current government has attempted to undermine the private sector nursery providers by pursuing their means-testing agenda in a covert way. We will engage constructively with the Jersey Early Years Partnership to ensure that the system in place is based on what is best for young children and that all families can benefit from affordable childcare.
Primary and secondary school
The wellbeing of pupils and staff must be given the highest priority in all schools (with professional support available to all at any time of the school day). We must return to an education system which allows students to learn and thrive, without the increasing stress that has developed in recent years by pressure to meet arbitrary targets.
We believe that teachers should be empowered to teach their students in a way which is most effective, without the burden of an over-cumbersome bureaucracy.
We must work with third parties to establish better health education and food options in schools so that children are benefiting from a healthy diet to promote learning.
Higher Education and vocational training
Reform Jersey pledges to cover the costs of university tuition fees for all Jersey students and introduce a student loan scheme to assist with maintenance costs through their studies, on top of the existing grants scheme.
We want to see more on-Island training opportunities become available. Setting up a digital skills education centre should be a priority.
As more jobs become obsolete due to automation, we must improve our facilities for lifelong learning, to enable adults to retrain. We have recently gone backwards, with support for mature students being cut. This must be reversed.
The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry demonstrated the urgent need to improve the services which are meant to protect vulnerable young people. We will work with the Children’s Commissioner and the Care Commission to ensure that the appropriate funding and framework is put in place to deliver on the Inquiry’s recommendations.
Inspections of our children’s homes will be conducted later this year. We commit to enacting whatever changes are necessary to ensure that every looked-after child is safe.
The wellbeing of children must be at the forefront of everything we do. Our institutions must never again fail those in our care as they have done previously.
Jersey’s Youth Service provides invaluable support for our young people. However, it is not a statutory service and obtains much of its funding from voluntary sources. The States should guarantee funding to the JYS to enable them to plan long-term what services they are able to provide. They should be helped by the States to develop their advocacy service to enable young people to have their voice heard by those in power. We will support the establishment of a permanent Youth Parliament, which reports directly to States Members on the subjects which matter to young people.
Citizenship, life skills and political education
We regularly hear from students that there is a view that citizenship and political education in schools is inadequate. Many young people feel that they are not taught about Jersey’s system of government and about life skills (such as mortgages and taxes), in preparation for adulthood. We commit to working directly with young people to address this and ensure that the curriculum matches their needs.<< PREVIOUS NEXT >>