Independent review finds Manx government relationship with island teachers 'fractured'

Credit: PA

The relationship between the Isle of Man Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) and teachers on the island has been described as 'fractured and must be repaired'.

Those are the conclusions of an independent report by Beamans Management Consultants, following the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, request of an independent review into the management of the DESC.

It also suggests the potential for a Manx Education board to be established to manage, co-ordinate and support the delivery of Manx education.

Something which would remain separate from policy and inspection.

Key points from the report include:

  • The relationship between the Department and schools is fractured and must be repaired.

  • Whilst not singling out any individual for criticism the report highlights that a culture has been allowed to develop which is antagonistic and non-collaborative.

  • Teachers feel disengaged and demotivated by lack of consultation on development of educational policies.

  • This gulf between schools and the department has increasingly led teachers to turn to their unions.

  • Entrenched behaviours and actions on both sides have become more combative which has culminated in the present industrial dispute.

We absolutely concur with the findings that cultural issues are at the root cause of the fractured relationship between the department and schools, which must be repaired and have gone almost entirely unchecked since the last independent review by Ofsted in 2002.

Rob Kelsall, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)

This report is not an easy read. A situation has developed between the Department and teachers which has damaged morale and threatens the high standard of education on our Island. I am committed to heal these divisions and welcome the suggested actions to allow us to move forward together.

Howard Quayle MHK, Isle of Man Chief Minister

The report suggests the issues can be improved through:

  • Structural changes within the Department to strengthen the role of separate line managers for primary and secondary schools.

  • Separating the functions of advice and support to schools from those of inspection and quality assurance.

  • A significant strengthening of the role of governors who would become responsible for accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance of their schools.

  • Clear mechanisms for cooperation with teachers to consider, develop and support the implementation of educational policy.

The full 111 page report can be found here.