Speaking during a visit to St Martin’s School with Chief Minister John Le Fondré, Deputy Jeremy Maçon said he had a passion for education and would potentially be interested in taking on the ministerial role permanently in the wake of Senator Tracey Vallois’ resignation last Sunday.
Currently Deputy Maçon is in a caretaking role, as well as carrying out his responsibilities as Housing and Children’s Minister, a role he took on in November following the resignation of Senator Sam Mézec.
‘I really appreciated and enjoyed working in education with Senator Vallois and I wouldn’t pretend that I wasn’t interested,’ he said. ‘Perhaps there might be some realignment of roles, but ultimately the choice of ministers will be for the Chief Minister and, of course, the States Assembly.’
Senator Le Fondré described Deputy Maçon as ‘a very capable candidate’ and said he was ‘taking soundings’ about whether ministerial portfolios might change and the potential ‘domino effect’ that would result in the event that an existing minister was to swap jobs. He stressed that no final decisions had been taken on the matter.
After touring St Martin’s School in the company of head teacher Jenny Posner, Deputy Maçon said he was encouraged by the attendance figures since Island schools reopened earlier this week.
With latest figures showing that more than 93% of primary school children and nearly 85% of secondary pupils were in school on Tuesday, Deputy Maçon said he was pleased with the response.
‘I think it shows the confidence that most people have,’ he said. ‘We have gone to great lengths to explain the safety measures in place, and that has been really important.’
While the decision to reopen schools had drawn criticism from trade unions and some parents, Deputy Maçon said he felt reassured that schools were a safe environment.
‘There were some teething issues on Monday, but we’ve responded to that, for example by adjusting the heating so that classrooms are warmer,’ he said.
Senator Le Fondré said that everyone was having to adapt during the pandemic, including those in schools, but added that he remained convinced that the risks from reopening schools were low in comparison to the harms that would result from extended absence.
Data released earlier this week showed that only around half of pupils among the three oldest year-groups in secondary schools had taken up the offer of testing ahead of this week’s reopening.
Deputy Maçon said he felt that the logistics of children getting tests done had been a factor and that he was confident that the results would be different when the same year-groups, and all secondary school teachers, are offered weekly testing in schools with effect from next week.
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