Falklands : FIRS Throws the Spotlight on David Jenkins
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 16.04.2011 (Article Archived on 30.04.2011)
It was recently confirmed that the Head Teacher of the Community School and Assistant Director of Education posts are to be combined. I asked David Jenkins (DJ) why this decision has been taken.
FIRS THROWS THE SPOTLIGHT ON DAVID JENKINS
A Report for FIRS by Stacey Bragger (SB) 13/04/11
SB: It was recently confirmed that the Head Teacher of the Community School and Assistant Director of Education posts are to be combined. I asked David Jenkins (DJ) why this decision has been taken.
DJ: As you know, the recent schools inspection report clearly identified Ė and itís important to recognise that there is some excellent work being done by all the staff at FICS; developing standards, they are moving forward very well Ė and that was clearly recognised by the OFSTED report. We also, though, need to ensure that we get a head teacher for FICS who will be able to take FICS forward into the future. And to do that, we wanted to try and encompass a variety of changes where we could develop clear guidance and counseling for the senior pupils in the school. This is quite a key area for me anyway because you need to look at what the employment opportunities are in the Falkland Islands both in the private and the public sectors both for now but also for the foreseeable future. This career guidance theme is going to continually change. Itís going to be dynamic and ever changing and we need to link this into what pupils will be doing in both higher and further education. The previous head teacher did have a relationship with Peter Symonds and Chichester where he used to see and support students but that concept really needs to be built on. And we need to have more comprehensive career options and support available to pupils both from the senior half of the school but taking it forward into further and higher education so that we can, if possible, pull those pupils after their higher and further education experience back into the Falklands, meeting the needs of the Falkland Islands. So thatís an area we really want to look at.
Secondly, obviously by combining the two posts, we can increase the remuneration and we can therefore, hopefully, get a better quality Head Teacher with substantial experience of UK secondary education.
SB: So the financial picture wasnít the primary goal behind this?
DJ: No it definitely wasnít the primary goal. It was one of the areas of consideration but certainly there were other areas which we need to take forward.
SB: Would there not be concerns that it could lead to a part-time head Teacher at the Senior School? Should people be concerned about that?
DJ: They shouldnít be concerned about that because obviously they will be monitored to ensure that isnít the case. There have been a number of concerns. Itís fair to say that FICS staff has been concerned about the implications of this role but what we are trying to do is to ensure that FICS are in the best position to move forward. Itís not to say that we are trying to belittle or take away any of the head teacher abilities. You have to remember that in the UK, for example, head teachers in senior school have huge schools run almost like businesses with 1200 or more pupils. FICS is not a large school. Itís considerably smaller in pupil numbers than the Infant Junior School at the moment. I know it has some unique challenges; we are look at people who are streaming in different subject areas, etc. but certainly we donít think that having the Head of FICS as the Assistant Director as well is going to actually cause any problems at the school and in fact, the reverse. I think it will be a proactive move at the school because it will allow the new Head Teacher to clearly see what the higher and further educational opportunities are and can therefore more greatly enable the pupils to have a clear way forward.
SB: So they will be based at FICS rather than here at the education Office?
DJ: Yes. They definitely will be based at FICS so thatís where they will be primarily working.
SB: Whatís the current situation with regards to putting this out for advertisement?
DJ: Itís currently with the Human Resources Department. They have looked at the job description I produced and we will be pasting that up into an advert. I believe they will be doing a job evaluation based on job descriptions; and we will hopefully putting an advert out in the not too distant future.
SB: I think it was mentioned that a date for January 2012 was being aimed for someone in that role. Is that going to be difficult if people are finishing academic years?
DJ: There is concern. Certainly an earlier date has been considered possibly September this year but that is far too early. Obviously Head Teachers have to give two terms notice in the UK to be released from their employment. The background in the UK at the moment is there are a lot of schools that are combining and there is a number of redundancies taking place so the entire job market in the UK is potentially to our benefit and hopefully we may not have to wait longer than that but I would anticipate we would get somebody in by January 2012.
SB: So hopefully this combination will make it more interesting role for somebody to come down here and do?
DJ: I definitely think so. The broader remit would, I think, encourage quite a lot of people who may only be Head Teachers in the UK to come out here and be also Assistant Directors of Education; I think it would be excellent. Obviously the long-term plan would be to get somebody local into that position. Unlike IJS, having somebody local taking on that responsibility at FICS is a little bit a move too far at the moment.
SB: Whatís the current situation with regards to the Assistant Director of Educationís post?
DJ: Richard Fogerty has done an excellent job and heís been around a long time. His corporate knowledge is excellent and he had his contract extended a number of times and this would extend his contract yet further. So at the moment we are anticipating his contract will run through until June 2012 so there will be a good 6 monthsí hand-over between Richard going and the new Assistant Director coming in. He can then enjoy his retirement.
SB: I think there has been some criticism regards to the sense that the previous Head Teacher left and the advert going out and being this combination of process of recruiting someone being flawed at all, do you feel?
DJ: I think it could have been better communicated; there were some concerns about the best way forward and weíve had to try and address those within Government. I think itís important to say that both I as the Director, the Chief Executive and EXCO recognise that this is the best way forward. Obviously itís an EXCO decision to go this way and it has both my and the support of the Chief Executive as well. It could have been better managed but we will learn from that and will have to take that on my chin and hopefully it will never happen again.
Thank you again for asking me for my opinions. I do want to close this interview by saying that the staff at FICS have been excellent in providing their support to the Acting Head Teacher, Helen Bell, and if they can continue to provide support to the new incumbent in that position I am absolutely sure that FICS will continue to go from strength to strength.
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