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'Complete Commitment' To Education

Jersey's new Education Minister has pledged his 'complete commitment and dedication' to the future of the island's children.

Reform Jersey's Deputy Rob Ward has been formally appointed Education Minister in the States Assembly.

The Children and Education remit has officially been been split, with Constable Richard Vibert responsible for the former and Deputy Ward titled Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning.

With more than 25 years of experience working in and around education, Deputy Ward says he will bring 'realistic and pragmatic change'.

"We can see meaningful change where it is necessary, that can be enacted with the people involved and for those who are affected by the decisions made.

There are several areas that I see as vital for the future.

This includes the development of school meal provision across our schools, the need for replacement school facilities in Central St Helier, addressing our nursery provision, and making inclusion truly work in our schools and colleges."

The Education Minister has reassured the States Assembly he will not try to stop the decisions made by his predecessors.

Deputy Rob Ward also told the Chamber he wants to see a switch in members' mentalities linked with the cost of educational provision. He said they need view spending as an investment into Jersey's future generations.

When questioned by St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft about the cost of a new town primary school near Gas Place, Deputy Ward said a visit to Springfield School has highlighted to him that the size of its play space was 'wholly inadequate'.

"The new school in St Helier is a replacement school for one, or perhaps two schools, that are falling apart.

I, as Education Minister, cannot stand in front of this Assembly and do anything other than say we need better resources for our young people.

With the positioning of this school by a park (Millennium Town Park), we will have children in the centre of town walking to school through a green space, in a green space, in a well-equipped and purpose-built school for the future."

Deputy Rob Ward told colleagues he wants to work with teachers to improve their experiences.  He said engagement with frontline staff will be improved under his leadership, to see 'what can be done to address representation and workload'.

It comes as the longstanding teacher's pay dispute ended under the new government's reign.

He says he wants to see better-trained union reps who can help solve problems before they start.

"The other [thing] is simply just not overloading the curriculum. We need to give teachers the respect to perform.

We have a group of people who are qualified to degree and post-degree level, and we seem to be obsessed with telling them how to do their jobs.

Let those professionals do their job, and let's listen to them and let them develop the skills they have.

I think that is one of the best ways to restore the relationships, by trust and value in the profession."

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