UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A survey of the history and development of education in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Channel Islands : pre-reformation - 1976 Gourley, Ilma C. Salazar


In writing of Guernsey, historians have treated education in a piece-meal fashion, making only brief and passing mention of Island schooling, with the exception of Elizabeth College, founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1563. The object of this thesis therefore, is to bring together information on the development of education in Guernsey so that an overall survey may be obtained. Information has been gathered from historical documents and writings, newspapers and the Reports of the Guernsey Education Council, as well as those of Her/His Majesty's Inspectors of Schools and of School Medical Officers. Information was also obtained through personal interviews with individuals who were or are concerned with education in the Bailiwick. Aimed at covering a period of time from pre-Reformation until 1976, the study reveals the meagre and gradual beginnings that island education had. Meagre too, are the existing records of that early education, most of the records having been destroyed or hidden by the Benedictine monks prior to their departure from the Island at the Dissolution of the Monastries. Pere Cadel, Archivist to the Diocese of Coutances in Normandy, has no records of education in the Island. Three parish schools were endowed as early as 1564, and by the end of the eighteenth century, eight of the ten parishes had at least one parish school. The other parishes had schools by 1818. During the nineteenth century there was growing awareness of the need for universal education, and much well-meaning work was done to educate the children of the poor. The 1857 report of the Ragged School in St. Peter Port is evidence of this. In 1824 Elizabeth College came under enquiry after complaints were received about the Master's inadequacies as a teacher. A new constitution for the school resulted, in 1826. In 1850 a States'* Committee carried out an overall survey of Parochial education in the Island. In keeping with the growing interest in the education of girls, the Ladies1 College Company was formed in 1872, establishing a school to provide an academic training for "the daughters of Gentlemen" . Numerous private schools dispensed education with varying degrees of success. The States Intermediate Schools for Boys (1883) and for Girls (1895) were opened to provide secondary education other than that at the two Colleges. The Education Law (Guernsey) 1893 made the provision of primary education in each parish mandatory, with expenses and responsibilities being jointly shared by the Parish and the States. A curriculum was laid down and capitation allowance was endorsed. In 1900 education was made compulsory. The Education Law of 19 03 caused each Parish to be responsible for primary education for all children within the parish boundaries, up to the age of thirteen. The Education Council was constituted in 1916, providing the uniformity and centralisation advised by Inspectors from England. In 1923, the compulsory school ages became six to fourteen. In 1935, the Education Law was revised so that the States became wholly responsible for the cost of education. Begun in 1936/37, re-organisation to provide senior schools was brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of war in 1939. 1940 saw the evacuation of 4,700 children. Because of the uniqueness of the situation, one section of this thesis is devoted to education during the period of the German occupation, 1940-45. The post war period saw school re-organisation on the lines advocated in the 1944 Butler Act, but such re-organisation was not complete until 19 59. The first Education Officer was appointed in 1954, and the school leaving age was raised to fifteen in 1962, the same year that Ladies' College came under the States of Guernsey. The existing 1935 Law, felt to be out of touch with modern times, was replaced with the comprehensive Education Law of 1970. This law makes particular reference to Special Education, not provided on the Island until 1953. The College of Further Education was established in 1970, but the new buildings were not available until the end of 1975. Great though the impetus has been in education in Guernsey during the 1970's, the eleven plus examination is retained and comprehensive education has repeatedly been rejected. The retention in Guernsey of a method of selection for secondary education which is no longer acknowledged as being desirable in English education, is indicative of the delay with which Guernsey education authorities have historically adopted educational reform.

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