Government will support Beaulieu to deliver action

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THE Education Minister has said the government will support the directors and leadership at Beaulieu in delivering an action plan and review their progress, following an independent report shedding light on failings and ‘inconsistencies in the quality of teaching’ at the school.

Deputy Inna Gardiner made the comments after an inspection found that, while the school had a ‘caring and supportive culture and ethos’, teaching and leadership standards were well below where they should be.

The Independent Jersey Schools Review Framework report concluded that some staff had been ‘over-generous’ in their self-assessment and that recent changes in senior leadership and poor communication had led to ‘a lack of accountability and a dip in educational standards’.

A survey, meanwhile, found staff to be ‘loyal’ to the school, but some staff members ‘expressed anxiety about leadership, communication, their workload and falling morale’.

In a statement released yesterday, Deputy Gardiner thanked Beaulieu for volunteering to be the first non-provided, grant-funded school to be reviewed under the Jersey Schools Review Framework.

Deputy Gardiner said: ‘JSRF reviews consider the whole school: pupils’ behaviour and development, the environment, the school leadership, standards of teaching, learning and assessment. Each review is a starting point for further collaboration between the department and the school to ensure continuous improvement.

‘The nature of that collaboration will depend on the exact relationship between the Government of Jersey and individual schools. In the case of non-provided, grant-funded schools, we will continue to support the directors and leadership in delivering on their action plan, and review their progress during the spring.’

A meeting was arranged last week after numerous Beaulieu parents voiced concerns in December over the sudden departure of head of school Andrea Firby – whose exit led to a petition being signed by more than 1,000 people – and a subsequent controversial restructuring of the school’s senior management.

Addressing parents at the meeting, Beaulieu’s chair of trustees, Bernadette Cooper, acknowledged that ‘the situation over Christmas was not handled well and communication was unclear’.

She said: ‘Trustees are committed to ensure that, moving forward, senior leaders are held sufficiently accountable and that the trustees remain actively involved in the leadership of the school.’

It was also confirmed at the meeting that former head teacher and chief executive officer Chris Beirne – who recently stepped down into the ‘less visible’ role of executive director amid criticism – is on sick leave, but is no longer a member of the executive leadership team or engaged in any directors’ decisions.

The review was conducted in November 2022 by a team of five people, including an experienced education consultant from outside the Island, and four education advisers from the Education Department.

They visited 54 lessons and mentor sessions, and spoke to groups of pupils, teachers and representatives of the board of trustees. The team also sampled pupils’ work.

Acting head teacher Paul Robinson said: ‘I’d like to thank the reviewers for their work and findings, as well as all the students and staff who supported the review. I welcome the reviewers’ recognition of the warm and caring environment, and the high expectations we have of our students.

‘I’d also like to thank the reviewers for their carefully considered recommendations for improvement. Staff across all levels are committed to building on these recommendations, to ensure a continuous improvement in the provision at Beaulieu.’

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