The announcement that the opening of the Comprehensive Schools is to be delayed now to 16 September 2019 was on the cards given the controversy about health and safety risks reported earlier this week. The GSD had called for the Government to ensure that the schools were safe for students and teachers before these are formally opened. However the further delay gives rise to questions as to the schooling of children.
“It is inexcusable that the Government have not provided a fall-back plan which would ensure that the schooling of children can happen elsewhere if there was a delay to the opening of the new comprehensive schools. The Government can talk down the effect on children and families as much as they want but the reality is that this is caused by their poor planning which is now in massive disarray. This will inevitably cause stress to pupils and families quite apart from not helping teachers to plan properly.” said GSD Leader Keith Azopardi.
“We welcome the fact that they have accepted they need to deal with the construction and safety issues. We reiterate the schools should not open till they are completely safe and ready. But the delay to the new date of 16 September means that some students will now start school two weeks after the customary opening date. How is the delay to their teaching going to be addressed? This is especially relevant for GCSE or A Level students who will be facing exams in May 2020. It is simply unacceptable that the Government has not made plans to get students to start their schooling on a temporary basis elsewhere particularly if they are in exam years. And is there a cast-iron guarantee there will be no further delay beyond 16 September?” said GSD Shadow Education Minister Edwin Reyes.
“The Government has to answer for that clear failure in planning. They have been so obsessed with insisting the schools will be ready that the construction site is working round the clock at massive high cost. This will cost millions of extra pounds to the taxpayer because of their inefficiency. By working in such a hurried way the workmanship can also be compromised and give rise to health and safety issues that we saw the other day or construction defects that will be evident later. The safety of our children and teachers is paramount. The GSD welcome the investment in new schools but it is clear that alongside any plans to have new schools there needed to be proper plans to allow the education of our children to continue seamlessly. The education of our children cannot be compromised because of poor planning by the GSLP” added Mr Azopardi.
Only yesterday in a GBC interview the Minister was insisting the schools would open on 11 September. The inability to admit what was obvious to everyone else is unbelievable. Today’s climb down was inevitable. Last year the Government repeatedly said Notre Dame would open on time only to have to successively delay opening for weeks. This is much more serious because of the schooling of students that are facing exams at different levels in their formative years.