Education and Research
Jersey’s people are its greatest asset, and a world class education system should easily be within its grasp as a small and wealthy jurisdiction. However, data show that Jersey schools underperform their equivalents in the UK, particularly for poorer students. The reasons are varied and largely beyond the scope of this report, but many contributors wanted to highlight that developing a world-class education system will improve social mobility and cohesion, improve economic performance, and enable us to provide the majority of the human capital required to administer the Island. It should therefore be one of our highest aspirations.
Jersey’s education system can also play a direct role in nurturing a cohesive sense of national identity. One key area, as mentioned above, is teaching the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The Board noted that France takes a lead among European countries in this regard, and looking to our nearest neighbour for guidance in this regard could also help educators enact two other of the Board’s suggestions: improving the teaching of French in schools, and emphasising more strongly Jersey’s historical and cultural connections with France.
Jersey’s higher educational offering also has an important role to play. Existing centres of excellence such as the JICAS MSc in Island Biodiversity and Conservation, Digital Jersey’s Leadership Academy, Durrell’s Conservation Programmes and the Jersey Business School help to retain and upskill Islanders while playing to some of Jersey’s strongest areas of expertise. Even if a fully-fledged University of Jersey is hard to envisage at the minute, the establishment of specialised university campuses attached to respected institutions could do even more to establish the Island as a Centre of Excellence in these and other areas, while simultaneously contributing to our national pride and our international reputation.
Jersey could also develop a reputation in science and research, which can increasingly be conducted by small, independent laboratories and groups of researchers incentivised by the advantages of holding Intellectual Property in Jersey and the recent decision to allocate a portion of Channel Islands lottery funding to this area every year. In the arts and social sciences there is also a need for more research on Jersey-related topics, which could be rectified by modest funding and support for such projects (including university dissertations) where the Société Jersiaise currently holds the torch almost alone.
Sport plays a significant role in helping Islanders identify with their community at local and international levels, and is an arena in which Jersey punches above its weight on the world stage. Sport fuels social integration, and many of Jersey’s sports teams are led by athletes from Poland, Portugal and other communities. It also fuels national pride, as our successes in the Commonwealth games, our 2015 hosting of the Island Games, and every Muratti, Siam Cup, and inter-insular with Guernsey demonstrate so well.
Jersey Reds are one of the top twenty-three teams in English rugby, obtaining regular positive references on national television as well as drawing people to the island. The Jersey Bulls football side were undefeated in their first season, attracting considerable media attention. Meanwhile, events such as the Jersey Marathon, the Super League Triathlon, the Car Rally, the International Surfing Championship, the Dance World Cup and the Swimarathon galvanise local participants and visitors in positive experiences of Jersey identity.
The Board welcomed the continued investment in sport and active living, including the new ‘Inspiring an Active Jersey’ strategy, enhancing facilities and providing grants for travel to competitions. It also suggested providing additional support for talented athletes and teams to compete in UK, European and International competitions, and ensuring that they do so with branded kit and emblems that identify and represent the Island.