A Guernsey protest involving more than 2,500 parents, students, and school workers have erupted in the English Channel near the French coast, as the government tries to implement a one-school-two-sites model.
Notably, teachers, politicians, and several stakeholders have spoken out against the proposed changes to the secondary education system.
Guernsey is an island in the English Channel, a British Crown Dependency (but not part of the United Kingdom). The second-largest of the Channel Islands, which, with Alderney and Sark, Herm, Jethou, and some islets, forms the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
In a bid to get its government to reverse on the idea of the new model, people of Guernsey staged a protest calling for the motion to delay the proposed changes.
The Guernsey protest crowds sported green balloons, ribbons, and placards to show their unhappiness with the proposed education model that’s being supported by the States Education Committee.
Starting at North Beach car park, the peaceful Guernseys protest went past the Liberation Monument and the Prince Albert Memorial.
Campaigners stopped traffic and caused another standstill at the seafront, while some gathered in Market Square where speeches were made.
Guernsey protest in Market Square
The protesters after their long protest walk reportedly had four speeches that took place at the Guernsey Market Square.
— Charlotte Gay (@CharlotteGay_) February 2, 2020
Andrew Ward, a parish constable for St Andrews, said Matt Fallaize, president of ESC, should listen to the people of Guernsey protest and not go on with their plan.
He added that he hopes the voice of the people will be heard and listened to.
Also speaking at the Market Square 12-year-old Angel Perkins, a student at Les Beaucamps High School said she was worried bullying would become worse when the schools increase in size.
Rachel Presland, one of the campaign organizers, said the island’s politicians need to start listening to what people in Guernsey are telling them and reverse on the proposed initiative.
ESC need to be paying attention, this is the public voicing their thing, showing in numbers they need to start listening to us. Our children, our future generations and the teachers they are going to suffer and that is not right. Our teachers need support as well as our children, it has to be looked at again.
Other speeches came from former education boss Jon Buckland and the Guernsey Disability Alliance while deputies including Chief Minister Gavin St Pier, Mary Lowe, and Andrea Dudley-Owen watched on.
Campaigners say they are supporting a request to put a pause on the current education plan and for it to be reviewed after the island-wide election in June.
However, the education committee said stopping the current plans would inevitably lead to years of further uncertainty for children and parents and waste millions of pounds.
Petition against the proposed model
A petition against the one-school model has reportedly received 5,478 signatures.
Parents created the petition, students, and school workers in a move to get the government to turn back on its idea of initiating a one-school-two-sites model.
Notably, the Guernsey protest is not a new occurrence as previously. Hundreds of nurses have marched through Guernsey’s capital in protest over equal pay.
Nurses say their pay has fallen behind that of other public sector professionals in Guernsey and is significantly lower than those in similar roles in Jersey.