Education in Jersey - Part 3
The 1947 Report had the support of HM Inspector, the heads of the two Colleges and the Advisory Body of the Jersey Teachers Association. It was the outcome of an inquiry undertaken by the president and the Director of Education.
The director had been upgraded from secretary in 1947 and lacked both experience and professional qualifications. The report was bare of statistical information and in no way was the future plan in the secondary stage of education calculated to provide equal opportunity for the adolescents of Jersey.
Priority was to be given to a boys' technical modern school in Saint Helier, on a site known as Hautlieu, Wellington Road, with a capacity for 500 boys drawn from the town and the immediate surrounding area for the modern side and from the whole Island for the technical side. A similar school for girls was to follow at some future date. Victoria College and the Jersey College for Girls were to be enlarged.
In committee, over the course of some three years, the writer vigorously pursued his opposition to the report. He was advised by the headmaster of St Lawrence School, Harold Carter, and other teachers in all-age elementary schools.
The opposition was firmly based on the philosophy of genuine equality and diversity in education. It was pursued with confidence as it followed a surge of education reports from the consultative committees of the English Board of Education after the First World War, in particular the Hadow Report published in 1926 on ‘’The Education of the Adolescent’’. Without doubt this was the most enlightened report between the two world wars.
The principle recommendations were the raising of the minimum school leaving age to 15 and secondary education for all. The report formed the framework of the Charter of Education courageously incorporated in the Education Act of 1944, passed by the National Government during World War Two, and known as the 'Butler Act'.
The minimum school leaving age had been raised to 15 in the Island in 1943, during the German Occupation, to alleviate the problem of unemployment. It was raised to 15 in England in 1947.
The prolonged debate terminated on 5 February 1952, with the unanimous agreement of the Public Instruction Committee that Hautlieu School should be a selective grammar school for boys drawn from every corner of the Island, running parallel with and offering an educational ladder similar to that offered by Victoria College.
The States were informed of the decision, but the matter was never debated by the House. The writer was nominated president of the committee on 4 March 1952; a presidency that was to last 18 years.
The post of headship of Hautlieu was advertised in the ‘’Jersey Evening Post’’ and in the national press. There were 227 applicants, 11 of whom were local teachers. C H Brown, Headmaster of Alexandra County Secondary School, Kent, was appointed.
New way forward
The tide was at the flood and Hautlieu School became the flagship of the new educational policy. The first purpose-built secondary school, offering free education, was staffed mainly by local teachers from all-age elementary schools in the Island. It was indeed a daunting task calling for dedication, re-orientation of teaching methods, adaptation to national curricula and winning the hopes and assurances of the adolescents, their parents, and the people of Jersey.
The school forged ahead in a display of confidence in the classrooms, in music, theatre and on the playing fields. It became a new enterprise in the Island in harnessing the full talent of the young generation.
1952 policy summary
- Hautlieu, a selective grammar school for boys drawing on pupils Island-wide at 11 plus.
- A similar grammar school for girls.
- A secondary modern school for girls drawing pupils from Saint Helier at 11 plus.
- A secondary modern school for boys drawing pupils from Saint Helier at 11 plus.
- A mixed secondary modern school in the west of the Island and a similar school in the east.
The committee was greatly strengthened by the arrival of the newly-appointed Director of Education, H C A Wimberley, in September 1954. In January 1955, the name of the committee was changed to the Education Committee.
In the introduction to the 1957 report on future educational policy, the committee stated that it was 'a crime against the nation' to allow ability of any kind to be wasted, particularly scientific and technical skills. The means to acquire expert knowledge and skill must be made available to everyone according to capability.
The committee had to keep a sense of proportion, and schools had to think of their children as future citizens, husbands, wives and parents just as much as embryo pieces of the economic system. Its duty was to ensure that every school was well equipped and adequately staffed with fully qualified teachers.
While the committee did not wish to follow slavishly the English system of public education in all its details, it was impossible in practice not to keep generally in line with it. There was no avoiding dependence on the United Kingdom for facilities in advanced education, and for teacher training, for examinations and text-books, all of which in their different ways were geared to the English system.
Since 1952, with the full co-operation of the States, the Committee had proceeded with confidence in fulfiling its programme of building new schools and re-organisation.
Thus the Island at this time had the following secondary schools:
|Victoria College||330||Jersey College for Girls||240|
|Saint Helier Boys||340||Saint Helier Girls||400|
Between them they provided accommodation for approximately two out of every three boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 15. This was a very big difference from the situation in 1952, before the new schools opened, when over 60 percent of the children stayed on in elementary schools from the age of 11 to 15.
The parents showed by their response how much they appreciated the opportunities now open to their children for an education that satisfied their needs and equipped them for their future careers in a way that was impossible under the old system.
No one who visited the new schools could fail to realize from the attitude of the children and the standard of work that had already been achieved what good value the community was getting in the potential quality of its future citizens.
By far the most urgent task now before the Committee was to make preparations for the very large increase in the number of boys and girls at the secondary stage which would occur from 1958 onwards. This was due to the high birth rate after the war. In 1952 there were 2,525 boys and girls between the ages of eleven and fifteen. It was estimated that in September, 1958, there were likely to be 2,950 increasing to 3,100 in 1960. For secondary education, therefore, the Committee's capital requirements were:
|Number of places||Capital cost|
|1957||New buildings for Saint Helier Boys school||500||£140,000|
|1958||Extensions at Saint Helier Girls school||150||£16,500|
|1959||New Western Secondary School (mixed)||360||£108,000|
Allowances and grants
The report informed the States that there was a most urgent and genuine need to give financial assistance where young adults over 15 wished to stay on at school but the circumstances of the family would not permit it. The education allowances would be granted to all pupils in States and private schools beyond the age of compulsory education, with the proviso, that in every case parents would satisfy the committee that the student concerned was likely to profit by remaining at school.
As an introduction to the committee's scheme for grants for further education, the report stated that, 20 years earlier, further education was restricted to a small minority who needed training for the professions, such as medicine, law, teaching, etc., and the student went to a university at the parents' expense.
There was now a vastly increased demand for the expert and the professional in a wide field. Young adults staying on at schools like Hautlieu and Rouge Bouillon were capable of reaching the top of the education ladder. The committee's grants scheme would be based on the scale in operation in the United Kingdom, and subject to a means test.
The joint memorandum was asking, in fact, that teachers should be allowed to give denominational instruction in States primary schools. The committee thought it advisable to invite all interested parties, including the Jersey Teachers' Association and the Council of Free Churches, to take part in the discussions.
After prolonged consideration the committee decided unanimously that it could not recommend to the States the amendment to Article 16 of the 1912 Law, as requested. However, the committee set up a Joint Standing Committee on Religious Instruction, composed of representatives of the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, the Free Church Council and the Jersey Teachers Association.
The outcome was the acceptance of the recommendation that an 'Agreed syllabus of religious instruction be used by teachers in primary schools in the Island'. The Roman Catholic representatives dissented.
In 1953 another memorandum was presented to the committee by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in Jersey, headed by the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth. The memorandum asked that five old Roman Catholic School buildings, which had been closed since 1919, should be re-opened for the teaching of Roman Catholic children only. This was rejected by the committee as being both too costly and, above all, educationally unsound.
In June 1956 a Roman Catholic Petition to the States was referred to the Education Committee. The petitioners submitted that it would be possible to meet the conscientious demands of the Catholic community 'so to re-group two school buildings owned by the Catholic community - namely Val Plaisant Infants School and Vauxhall School in Saint Helier for Roman Catholic children only, staffed by Roman Catholic teachers and to be conducted by the States as denominational schools'.
Also that parents of Catholic children be given the option of sending their children to one of the existing Catholic schools, at the age of eleven, the conditions and cost of this concession to be the subject of negotiation.
In December 1952, a joint memorandum was submitted to the States Public Instruction Committee by the Anglican Chapter and the Roman Catholic Association asking the Committee to recommend the States to amend Article 16 of the 1912 Law on Primary Instruction by deleting the following words: that “no catechism, formulary or ceremony distinctive of any religious doctrine or denomination shall be taught or employed by the said teachers” .
On 6 December 1957 the Committee lodged a document in the States of 142 pages, compiled by the President of the Committee. It set out the historical background to the development of education in Jersey.
The debate commenced on Tuesday 11 February 1958 and lasted for two whole-day sittings. The ‘’Evening Post’’'s front page reported that a packed gallery heard a three-hour speech by the President of Education. It was the view of the committee that to admit the principle of denominational education must lead in a small Island to inefficiency and to the destruction of a system that had been working satisfactorily over many years. That it was completely impracticable to "juggle" with junior children within any defined district in order to implement the wishes of anyone section of the community.
There would be no certainty, by any means, that all parents of children of the Roman Catholic faith would wish to send their children to Roman Catholic schools. This would apply equally to any other denominational schools which might be opened.
The Education Committee was strongly of the opinion that it would not be right to support a change in the 1912 Law that favoured only one religious denomination. Inevitably there would be far-reaching demands which would result from such action and this the committee could not in justice do.
It was very conscious of the responsibilities which it carried with regard to the religious education of the young people of Jersey and was sincerely convinced that there was a unity of Christian faith which transcends denominational divisions and that Christian unity could be promoted in our schools without detriment to the loyalty of theyouth to different churches. Christianity should, in fact, be a unifying force - it should never divide.
The speakers for the petition were forthright in giving expression to their deeply held convictions of the justice of their case. There were many countries in Europe in which denominational schools played an active part in education, in England and Holland for example.
Given goodwill it would be possible to meet, in some measure, the conscientious demands of the Roman Catholic community. The request was simple. For example, there were 61 Roman Catholic children at Vauxhall school out of a total of 180. It would be possible over an extended period of time to direct only Roman Catholic children to that school.
With regard to financial help to the Roman Catholic schools (De La Salle College founded in Jersey in 1917, the FC] Convent in 1872, and Beaulieu Convent in 1951), these three schools were economically independent and their incomes were derived from parents' fees and benefactors. There were no church grants. One in five children in Jersey was educated in church foundation and private schools.
At the conclusion of the two-day debate the Bailiff recommended a brief adjournment in order that the two parties might consider a way forward. It was finally agreed by the House that the Education Committee should consider:
- The amendment of Article 16 of the 1912 Law to permit the teaching of religion by teachers in all primary schools.
- The making of financial grants to private schools or the parents of children attending such schools, and report back to the House.
Vote against committee
On 26 February 1959 the Education Committee lodged a report on these two matters which the States had asked the committee to consider. After prolonged consideration the committee recommended that Article 16 of the 1912 Law should be amended so as to permit the giving of denominational religious instruction in all primary schools between 9.15 and 9.45 in the morning, by assistant teachers, who volunteered to do so.
The committee to be vested with the decision as to whether or not such permission should be given. The committee had met representatives of the churches and the Jersey Teachers' Association over many weeks in order that the whole question of religious instruction might be thoroughly investigated.
Memoranda submitted to the committee were attached to the report. The Free Church Federal Council was convinced that the use of the agreed syllabus on religious Instruction by teachers was right and commendable.
The Deanery Chapter of Jersey did not agree with any alteration to the Law which would permit teachers to give denominational instruction.
The Jersey Teachers Association, while fully aware of the importance of religious instruction in primary schools, rejected the 'Permissive System' by a large majority. No matter what safeguards were devised, promotions, new appointments and transfers would ultimately be subject to other than professional consideration.
Scriptural teaching, whether or not based on the agreed sSyllabus, had much that was valuable to all denominations and teachers fruitfully supplemented the work of the churches.
The debate was opened on the morning of 12 March. The president of the committee reminded the House that the debate had nothing to do with denominational schools.
Under Article 16 of the Law of 1912 teaching in all primary schools, taken over by the States, was limited to the reading and explanation of Old and New Testaments and no catechism, formulary and ceremony distinctive of any religious doctrine or denomination shall be taught by them.
But freedom was given, in all States primary schools, to Ministers of Anglican, Roman Catholic or Non-Conformist Churches, or persons who may be appointed by them, to give denominational teaching between 9.15 and 9.45 a.m. The 'right of entry' caused many problems.
Ministers were daily faced with the task of giving denominational instruction to groups of children of a wide age range, whose parents had made written application to the Education Committee for such instruction. The adoption of the amendment would give teachers the freedom to volunteer, and seek the permission of the Education Committee, to help in the teaching of dogma.
The opposition was undoubtedly strengthened by a statement issued by the Jersey Teachers Association a few days before the debate. It stated that the association had felt compelled to protest in the strongest possible terms against the 'Permissive System' as now proposed.
The Education Committee had sought the advice of teachers and the churches on the question of religious instruction and that advice had been disregarded. The responsibility of teaching dogma lay properly with the churches and the parents.
The Committee in reply to a memorandum in 1953 had strongly rejected the introduction of the 'Permissive System' in Jersey schools because it was a threat to teachers and would open the door to all kinds of external pressure. Moreover it would make the appointment of new teachers more difficult.
It was stated in the House that there was division in the Education Committee on this question and that the president had given every member the freedom to talk and vote in accordance with his conscience. At the conclusion of a three and a half hours debate the States voted against the committee's recommendation by 32 votes to 14.
Grants to private schools
It was a joint memorandum in January 1961, submitted to the Education Committee by the three Roman Catholic foundation schools and the private schools that formed the basis of the successful scheme for grants to private schools in the Island.
It was a non-denominational approach that undoubtedly brought about a unity in education between States, Roman Catholic and private schools. It was a historical break-through that brought harmony to the education scene at a time when the population in the Island was soaring, bringing huge financial implications and consequences in its wake.
A comprehensive draft scheme was Lodged au Greffe on 27 October 1964, which the States approved in principle on 19 November, and charged the Education Committee to prepare the necessary legislation to bring the scheme into operation.
However the law was delayed because the Law Officers of the Crown gave it as their opinion that the rights and duties of the Committee, as defined under the 1912 and 1920 Laws, could not in their opinion be deemed to include the power to provide grants to private schools. In the event, enabling legislation was enacted under Education (Grants to Private Schools) Jersey Regulations, 1966. The first applications for grants were made as from July 1966.
In order to maintain standards all private schools agreed to inspection by HMI and additional help was given to grant aided schools by including them in the free school milkscheme, school library service, dental and medical service and in numerous other ways. It was a time for sowing seeds of unity that blossomed into buds of diversity of choice for parents in the Island.
The Education Committee's 1965 report showed a dramatic increase in the birth rate in the Island. The average birth rate for the five years 1955 to 1959 was 855, and for the five years 1960 to 1964 was 1,170. The estimated increase in the number of children aged six to eleven was from 4,828 in 1965 to 5,670 in 1968 and 6,625 in 1972. The Committee sought and obtained the approval of the States, in principle, to the plan for primary education over five years to meet the demand for extra school places.
The plan included the building of seven new primary schools. The extension and modernisation of 12 existing schools and the closure of eight small outdated schools.
The 12 primary schools scheduled for extensions were First Tower, St Lawrence, La Moye, St Peter, Les Landes, St Mary, Snt John, Trinity, St Martin, Grouville, St Clement, and St Saviour. The extensions included extra classrooms and Assembly/PE Halls. These proposals were designed to remedy all major deficiencies in the schools within seven years.
The eight schools to be closed over a period of years were Brighton Road Infants, Halkett Place, New Street, St James, St Luke, St Brelade, Val Plaisant Infants and Vauxhall. The last two schools were of Roman Catholic foundation and had been the subject of the petition to the States in 1956. Six of the schools were in Saint Helier. All were obsolete and on cramped sites with very small classrooms. In the event St Luke was not closed.
Seven new schools, as listed below, would provide some 1,725 additional primary places. The estimated cost of the programme was approximately £500,000 plus £40,000 for furniture and equipment.
|Name of school||Year of opening||Approximate cost|
These new schools were each designed to accommodate 250 children of primary age with a maximum of 30 to a class. The Education Committee held the view that primary schools should be planned to take not more than 300 pupils. Two new preparatory school buildings were completed at this period, at the Jersey College for Girls in 1965 and Victoria College in 1966.
Junior Training Centre
In 1957 the Public Health Committee opened a Junior Training Centre for severely sub¬normal children, in two rooms in the Westaway Creche with nine children in attendance.
The Education Committee were firmly of the opinion that the specialist training of these young children should come within its province. In 1967 a new purpose-built school, to be known as Mont à l'Abbé, was opened with 60 children on the roll.
The school was staffed with fully qualified teachers dedicated to the task of teaching children with severe learning difficulties. Parents applauded the new teaching facilities for their children and their help and co-operation came forward in abundance. Mont à l' Abbe provided the environment for the socialising of the young children, learning from each other, broadening their adventure, in the young community and increasing their knowledge as they ventured forth into the adult community.
Agriculture and horticulture
In 1963 the Education Committee decided that there was an urgent need for a wide range of courses to be available to the agricultural and horticultural industries. With the full co¬operation of the States Agricultural Committee a site was chosen at Howard Davis Farm to construct the Training Centre.
In 1964 the first Director, Denis Shaw, who had obtained a National Diploma in Horticulture at Pershore Agricultural College, was appointed. The appointment was symptomatic of the prevailing philosophy of the Committee of Education of the day. He was given an abundance of freedom and was expected to pioneer the work at the centre. This he undoubtedly did with great energy, enthusiasm and dedication.
The centre was well-sited and obtained excellent co-operation from the Howard Davis Farm staff. Land and glasshouse units were made available for both demonstration and experimental work. In 1965 there were four different courses for fifty students and by the end of the decade there were twelve courses with a student roll-call of over two hundred. Over the years the emphasis swung away from purely commercial aspects of glasshouse crops, vegetables and agricultural produce to the nursery trades, parks and gardens and the domestic amateur gardener.
The Bailiff informed the President of Education, in 1957, that the Home Office had expressed anxiety about the lack of a Children's Committee in the Island. In January 1958 the States charged the Education Committee to convene a meeting of the presidents of the relevant committees, the Constables of the 12 parishes, and others concerned with the welfare of children, and review the present arrangements.
On 29 May, the committee reported back to the States seeking the approval in principle, of a memorandum and the appointment of a professional Children's Officer.
The memorandum showed that the administrative responsibility for children in need of care was placed mainly on the Public Health and Education Committees and the legal and financial control was divided between the Royal Court, the Finance Committee and the Constables of the 12 parishes. The Education Committee was of the opinion that the present arrangements for children in need of institutional care were open to serious criticism. Children often lived a life which was too different from the conditions in a normal home.
Members of the committee had visited East Sussex and the County Council Chief Children's Officer had given valuable help and guidance on the way ahead for Jersey.
The practice in England, since the passing of the 1948 Children's Act, had been the formation of a separate Children's Committee. The memorandum recommended that the Children's Officer should be appointed to the staff of the Education Department and that the Children's Committee should be a sub-committee of Education.
It came very much of a shock to realise that the number of children in public care in Jersey was twice as high as the average figure for children's authorities in the United Kingdom.
The committee's proposals could be summarised in order of priority as follows:
- Appointment of Children's Officer.
- Financial and executive responsibility for the welfare of children should be in the hands of the Education Committee.
- Amalgamation of the existing Boys' and Girls' Homes and Westaway Creche. Building or acquisition of three Cottage Homes each accommodating six to eight children.
- Preparation of new legislation to consolidate and extend the existing Children's Law and to incorporate within it provision for the setting-up of a Juvenile Court.
On 15 July 1959, the committee announced to the States the appointment of Miss P L Thornton as Children's Officer. As a result of a thorough survey by the Children's Officer, the Education Committee approved a memorandum and accordingly decided to make further recommendations to the States:
- ”That they authorise the appointment of three Child Care Officers and include in the 1960 estimates a sum for the building of three family group homes (cottage homes).”
Analysis of the 89 children in three children's homes suggested that between 25 and 30 should either return to their own families or, if suitable foster homes could be found, be boarded out. Approximately the same number should be accommodated in Family Group homes. Haut de la Garenne was established as a mixed home for boys and girls and on completion of a nursery wing the children from the Westaway Creche would join them.
The prevailing conditions in the children's homes in the early 1950s were something akin to Dickensian. At the Boys Home there still existed a 'black hole' which was the chief form of punishment in which naughty boys were immersed. Boys and girls were uniformly dressed and deprived of many liberties normally found in the average home in the Island.
Dramatic changes now developed under the guidance of the Children's Officer. Boys and girls from infants in high-chairs to those of 16 years of age, formed attractive, family-group tables. Uniform dress was discarded and children were given the liberty of individual choice.
Weekly pocket-money was introduced. Everything was aimed at the destruction of stigmatisation and individualism was nourished. Boys and girls of eleven-plus went by bus with all the other children in the parish to one of the new States secondary schools in St Helier, wearing a school uniform.
The Committee's other main responsibility was the Public Library. The introduction of the Island-wide mobile library service in 1962 and the branch library at Les Quennevais School in Saint Brelade, in 1965 were two factors that contributed to the remarkable growth of the service. The annual issue of books rose from little more than 150,000 in 1957 to over 600,000 in 1968. It was the Committee's hope that it would be possible to rehouse the central library in Saint Helier, in new buildings, in the not too distant future.
Secondary education: a deluge of children
At this time the Education Committee was chiefly concerned with the deluge of children coming on to the secondary stage of education. The number in the eleven plus age group had risen from 781 in 1967 to over 1,000 in 1972 and was threatening to reach 1,200 in 1974.
In addition, more and more pupils remained longer at school. The committee now had to plan to accommodate 5,900 pupils aged 11+ to 19 in 1977, whereas the estimate in the 1957 report to the States was 2,550.
In view of the imminent shortage of accommo¬dation the committee sought and was voted by the States a sum of £500,000 to provide 830 extra places in Hautlieu, St Helier Boys, Les Quennevais and the Jersey College for Girls. Rouge Bouillon Grammar School for Girls had been completely integrated with Hautlieu in 1966.
The need for a new secondary school for Boys and Girls in the east of the Island had been agreed by the States and a suitable site had been purchased in the parish of St Clement. The capital sum was estimated at £450,000 plus £45,000 for furniture and equipment. The vote was included in the 1970 estimates.
The capacity on completion of extensions and the building of Le Rocquier, a new co¬educational secondary school in the east was:-
1969 education report
The report recorded the completion of the major school building projects and stimulating educational schemes that had come onto the education scene over the past decade. The new St Helier Boys' Secondary School in 1962 and Les Quennevais, the new western secondary school for boys and girls in 1965, provided the increase in accommodation for the remainder of the children over the age of 11 in primary schools.
In 1962 a full-time Youth Employment Officer was appointed and careers teachers were established in all secondary schools.
In 1966 a pioneering venture was developed, backed by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Jersey and Guernsey each maintained small studios and a combined Teachers' Committee planned and produced educational programmes for schools in the Channel Islands, which were used extensively.
The rehabilitation of the Florence Boot playing field had continued since 1953. Playing fields were opened at Millbrook in 1959, Les Quennevais with over 60 vergees of land in 1969, and 33 vergees at Grainville Manor in 1968. All these playing fields were open to the community. The new primary schools had their own playing fields.
|Jersey College for Girls||480|
|St Helier Boys||720|
|St Helier Girls||880|
|Total capacity in States Secondary Schools:||4,530|
There was strong determination at this time to tackle the problems associated with the 11-plus selective examination which settled the educational future of children at this young age on the results of a single test of intelligence.
Selection of children for a course or school which suited them best was inevitable and educationally sound, but it had to be a continuous process over the whole of each child's primary school life. In this way every child would have access to a range of courses among which they could find paths of learning which matched their level of intelligence and interests.
Education at both the primary and secondary stages was flourishing in the Island. The Committee was greatly encouraged by the splendid spirit of co-operation that was so strongly evident among teachers in States, church and private schools.
There was the will to succeed for the sake of the children and teachers were no longer considering their schools in isolation. This new and refreshing outlook was demonstrated forcibly in the drafting of the 1969 Education Report. Headteachers, assistant teachers and representatives of teachers' unions made their contribution in the interests of the children.
It was the belief of the committee that given this strength and unity in the teaching profession, a solution would be found to the eleven plus problem over the next few years without any loss of harmony or marring of the splendid progressive work that was taking place in the schools.
Institute of Further Education
The Institute opened in the vacated La Motte Street Primary School in 1962. From the outset, it was recognised that the Institute had two important functions to perform in the field of technical education, outside the sphere of the schools.
First there was an increasing demand for the training of young workers in the early years of employment. The second function was a centre for the continued training of adult workers, in all walks of life, to enable them to keep abreast of new technical innovations in industry and commerce.
In the 1968/69 session the institute offered the following list of part-time day release courses: Building and Construction, Catering, Secretarial, Shorthand and Typewriting, Engineering, Electrical, Mechanical and Motor, Radio and Television.
The Institute needed to be housed as quickly as possible in purpose-built classrooms with modern equipment. A site had already been purchased to provide modern workshops for the courses already in existence and basic accommodation for students. Phase 1 of the new Institute building was approved, in principle, by the States at the time of the adoption of the 1969 Report.
Adult recreational education
The majority of adult recreation classes took place in school buildings in St Helier. In 1968/69 there was an enrolment of 2,000 students. Another 1,200 students enrolled at the Adult Education Centre at Les Quennevais Secondary School, St Brelade, which had successfully demonstrated the advantages of this kind of organisation.
The committee decided that because of the obvious advantages of putting buildings, equipment and other facilities to continuous use for twelve hours a day, the new eastern secondary school should be planned as a community centre.
Les Quennevais School
Les Quennevais Secondary School in St Brelade opened its classrooms and playing fields to the whole community, on 7 January 1965. It was a school and community centre in a modern, purpose-designed building, spacious and light and liberally supplied with teaching equipment for people of all ages.
Half the staff were local teachers attracted to it from all-age schools. The ratio of pupils to staff was 14 to 1. Classes were limited to 30 pupils. There were 288 pupils in the first term and 450 in September 1966, a figure destined to reach over 700 in the early ‘seventies. It was endowed with the largest area of playing fields in the Island. John Watts, the first head teacher, was nominated in the spring of 1964. He openly set his task to embody all that was asked in the Newsom Report known as ‘Half our Future’ at Les Quennevais. The report was the outcome of a reference given to the Central Advisory Council for Education (England) in 1961:
- ”To consider the education between the ages of 13 and 16 of the pupils of average and less than average ability who are or will be following full-time courses either at school or in establishments of further education. The term education shall be understood to include extra-curriculum activities.”
In Jersey, as in the United Kingdom, half the pupils would be taught in co-educational schools such as Les Quennevais. "And that;' said Newsom, "is half our future:' Newsom was completely in tune with the deeply held and propagated philosophy of the Jersey Education Committee, to plan for every child the opportunity for education in its fullest sense, without limits imposed by social or financial status or intellectual ability. The potential of every young mind can only triumph in the right environment and with constant encouragement.
Under the inspired leadership of the headmaster and a devoted staff, the school became a human hive of activity. In January 1965 John Watts visited every all-age contributory school to meet the children who would lay the foundation of Les Quennevais.
On the first day that the school opened a group of boys laid the keels of two sailing dinghies to be known as Quest and Quiver, ceremoniously launched in St Aubin's Harbour six months later. Immediately a parent teachers association and Les Quennevais Pupils Association were formed. Both contributed vigorously and constructively to the surge forward in the community spirit of the school.
A fine school library, a branch of the Central Library, was used by pupils and adults throughout the day. Pupils met parents, uncles and aunts during normal school hours. Some were coming back to school for adult education.
Classrooms were allocated to bridge clubs, the local Women's Institute and senior citizens. The Baby Welfare clinic provided a practical opportunity for fourth and fifth year pupils to learn child- care. Activities went on at Les Quennevais for twelve hours a day. Enrolment in the evening Adult Education Classes reached 3,000 in 1970.
Outdoor activities abounded. The school, surrounded by playing fields and a large area of sand dunes, known as Les Mielles, provided endless opportunities for physical adventures. Close at hand the old Fort of St Aubin, turned into an adventure centre by the Education Committee, introduced pupils to swimming, sailing, canoeing and rock climbing. The Fort was furnished with bunks and a kitchen so that school parties could stay for days, at high tide surrounded by sea, and sail across to St Aubin's Harbour in their school-made sailing dinghies and canoes.
Les Quennevais School and Adult Training Centre towered in the field of community education. In its first five years it demonstrated how much youth, adults and the aged learn from each other, together.
In the autumn of 1969, following the publication of the education report, the Jersey Teachers Association under the Presidency of E W Herbert, Headmaster of Plat Douet School, St Clement, and soon after his retirement to become a Jurat of the Royal Court, decided it would be an ideal moment to undertake a detailed examination of education in Jersey, with special reference to the structure of secondary education.
The examination concentrated on major themes and on gathering and studying information which would contribute to the main purpose of the investigation; proposing a suitable system of education for Jersey after 1975.
It was symptomatic of the time and of the tenacious unity that had grown-up among the professional teachers in States, private and church schools, that the JTA invited all teachers in the Island to volunteer in the time consuming task. The response was magnificent. The JTA report was published in 1970. It was a comprehensive document including a brief history of education in Jersey from 1870 to 1970 and the results of an in-depth survey of all types of secondary education in the United Kingdom.
The working party agreed unanimously that the 11-plus examination had to be abolished and that co-education should be extended in Jersey. It was a unique document worthy of the highest praise.
The final conclusion of the Independent Teacher's Report provided grounds for optimism:
- ”Unquestionably, the educational progress made by Jersey during this era bears comparison with that achieved by many of the best local authorities in Britain during the same period. Much still remains to be done, for old buildings with poor accommodation and far too little playing space are still in use, but much has been achieved. It is because of the magnitude of the programme carried out in the last twenty years that the Island finds itself today in a position which enables it to consider the newest ideas in educational philosophy, and to ask what must be the next steps forward, what further progress is both necessary and possible.”