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Education on the Isle of Wight

Education on the Isle of Wight is provided by 69 Local Education Authority-maintained schools on the Isle of Wight, and two independent schools. As a rural community, many of these schools are small, with average numbers of pupils lower than in many urban areas. It was decided on 19 March 2008, in a Whole Council Meeting, that the three-tier system will change into a two tier system. A report into the report on the re-organisation with proposals as to which schools will close was published in May 2008. There is also a college on the Isle of Wight and other less formal educational venues.

School System

The Isle of Wight does not conform to the general pattern of education in the United Kingdom in which pupils change schools at age 11 (see Education in England). Instead, the Isle of Wight uses a three-tier system once experimented with in a number of areas, but now retained in parts of only some 17 Local Authorities. In this system pupils change school at ages 9 and 13.

Part of the rationale behind this system was that the age of eleven is a period of dramatic physical and emotional change, and also significantly different from the higher age groups in secondary education. Creation of a tier between earlier primary and later secondary education meant that a different character of education suitable to the age group could be developed, taking the child up to age thirteen when they were more ready for high school.

The system has been popular among parents and teachers, but since the introduction of the National Curriculum criticisms have arisen over the system because the curriculum is based on Key Stages lasting either two or three years. It has been suggested that changing school at age 13, with two years of Key Stage 3 spent at a middle school and one year in high school, results in a lack of continuity and problems for high schools whose intake will be from several middle schools.

Types of School

Under the current system the following three types of school exist;

  • Primary Schools – There are 46 primary schools on the island, taking pupils from age four plus to nine [the reception year to year 4]. Nineteen of these primary schools are Church of England or Catholic aided or controlled. All primary schools have pre-school facilities.
  • Middle Schools – There are 16 middle schools, taking pupils from age 9 to 13 [years 5 to 8]. Of these, one is the local Catholic school, two are Church of England controlled and one is voluntary aided by the Church of England. In some other areas of the UK still retaining a three-tier system the middle school ages are 8 to 12 [Years 4 to 7].
  • High Schools – There are five high schools, taking pupils from age 13 to 18 (compulsory years 9 to 11 and (sixth form) years 12 and 13).

There is no church high school.

The current proposed changes would alter this to be in accord with much of the rest of the country, that is:

  • Age 4-11 primary schools – There are proposals for 38 schools of this type.
  • Age 11-19 secondary schools – There are proposals for 6 schools of this type, located in:
    • Sandown (on the Sandown High and Sandham Middle)
    • Ryde (on the site of Ryde High and Haylands)
    • Newport (on the site of Medina and Downside)
    • Newport (on the site of Carisbrooke)
    • Newport - a new combined Church of England and Roman Catholic High School, provisionally named 'Christ the King College'
    • West Cowes (on the site of Cowes High)
  • Isle of Wight College – Like many counties, the Isle of Wight has a college offering vocational courses and a sixth form as well as link courses in tertiary and postgraduate education. This college in located on the outskirts of Newport.
  • Independent Schools There are presently two independent schools. The Priory School, is presently in Shanklin. "Ryde School With Upper Chine", founded in 1921, is a co-educational, non-selective HMC school in Ryde. Ryde School owns the old Bembridge School site where its boarding campus is now based. [Kingswood currently shares the site with them.] Upper Chine School amalgamated with Ryde School and so Ryde School became Ryde School With Upper Chine in 1994.

Standards & Reforms to the System

In 2004 the Isle of Wight council undertook a consultative process aimed at changing local education structure, to a two tier school system similar to that existing in the rest of the country. This move was opposed by a lobby, Standards not Tiers, based in Upper Ventnor and the Conservatives, who, after they won the local council elections in May 2005 shelved the proposals pending further investigation.

The Annual Performance Assessment of the Isle of Wight Council's Education and Children's Social Care Services 2005, carried out by Office for Standards in Education and the Commission for Social Care Inspection, found low levels of achievements for pupils in schools and a lack of significant and sustained progress over the last five years. Overall, the Isle of Wight Council’s capacity to improve its services for children and young people was judged to be 'adequate', out of the four ratings 'very good', 'promising', 'adequate' or 'inadequate'.

In 2006, the regional Learning and Skills Council proposed to replace the school sixth forms with central provision at the Isle of Wight College. In January 2007, the authority rejected this proposal, and instead offered its own, which included a reduced number of secondary schools, and the retention of Year 9 pupils in Middle schools, extending their range to form 9-14 schools - a unique arrangement in the United Kingdom - and 14-19 provision at High Schools.

In January 2008, more reforms were put forward, which could see the closure of at least half of the Island's primary schools. On 14 January 2008 it was announced that at least 23 primary schools and 1 middle school (likely to be Nodehill Middle School) would be closed by whichever education pathway was chosen in March.

Option 1:

Primary/juniorhigh/learning centres, which would leave the Island with 32 primary schools, 10 Junior High Schools and 3 Learning Centres.

Option 2:

Two-tier primary/secondary set-up, which would leave the Island with 24 primary schools, 4 secondary schools and 1 faith college.

Option 3:

A similar two-tier set-up, which would leave the Island with 33 primary schools, 5 secondary schools and 1 faith college.

The schools would be spread out across the Island in Cowes, East Cowes, Ryde, East Wight, South East Wight, South Wight, West Wight and Newport. Trinity Middle School and ABK middle School would join to form the faith college, Christ The King College, serving students from ages 9-19, which would be based on the current Carrisbrooke High School site.

Under all the options currently on offer, all the island schools will close, however some will re-open on the existing site, while others will be moved to new sites. The Isle of Wight Council says it could save up to £2 million a year in money that would be spent on small primary schools, that under the new system, wouldn't be needed. The changes will begin to be introduced from September 2010, although some could happen earlier.

There were also calls for a fourth option of extending middle schools to year 9. This would save primary schools across the Island in rural locations and enable middle and high schools to almost continue to function as they are, although this fourth option is unlikely to go ahead.

The 'biggest protest the Island has ever seen' occurred outside County Hall in Newport on Saturday 26 January at 10:00am lasting an hour until 11:00am, lead by Isle of Wight Radio DJ Alex Dyke as a result of the Council's plans for education reforms. Between 1,000 and 1,250 took part in the protest, including parents, teachers and students. The Island MP Andrew Turner, with two other councillors also attended the protest, disagreeing with the plans.

More protests later occurred at Sandown, Shanklin and Ryde, with another at Newport. On 19 March 2008, a two-tier system was voted for by Isle of Wight councillors, bringing the island's school system into line with the rest of the country.

It was finally announced in the Isle of Wight County Press on 23 May 2008 which schools would be closed.

Adult Education

The Isle of Wight College provides a selection of courses, mostly offered on its campus in Newport. However, there are many other providers of adult education on the Isle of Wight including libraries, museums, Leisure Centres, West Wight Training Centre, Learning Links, Ventnor Community Projects, Quays Arts, Platform One and the Isle of Wight Council.

The local Council provides a wide range of adult and community learning opportunities. For example, the Council offers family learning opportunities, where parents and children learn together in schools. The Council also has developed community learning programmes which are delivered in communities to overcome difficulties in accessing learning such as time, transport and affordability.

Qualifications

From census data taken in 2001, the percentage of qualification levels of people aged 16-74, living on the Isle of Wight are:

Qualifications Isle of Wight England and Wales
No qualifications 30.19 29.08
Highest qualification attained Level 1 18.49 16.57
Highest qualification attained Level 2 20.76 19.38
Highest qualification attained Level 3 6.42 8.27
Highest qualification attained Level 4/5 15.27 19.76
Other qualifications/level unknown 8.87 6.94

  • Level 1 = 1+ O level passes, 1+ CSE/GCSE any grades, NVQ level 1, Foundation GNVQ
  • Level 2 = 5+ O level passes, 5+ CSEs (Grade 1s), 5+ GCSEs (grades A*-C), School Certificate, 1+ A levels/AS levels, NVQ level2, Intermediate GNVQ
  • Level 3 = 2+ A levels, 4+ AS levels, Higher School Certificate, NVQ level 3, Advanced GNVQ
  • Level 4/5 = First degree, Higher degree, NVQ levels 4 and 5, HNC, HND, Qualified Teacher Status, Qualified Medical Doctor, Qualified Dentist, Qualified Nurse, Midwife, Health Visitor.

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