Deputy Jeremy Maçon, who is Assistant Education Minister to Senator Tracey Vallois, said that the pair had had little to no officer support since taking on their roles in June.
Instead, he said that various officers had been helping them ‘from the side of their desks’ and on top of their existing workloads.
He also said the issue had meant that the department had not necessarily been as good as it should have been at responding to inquiries.
In addition, secretarial support for the minister has been carried out by temps during that time, which despite their professionalism has exacerbated the problem. Previously the department had had a dedicated person for ministerial support.
‘Since the appointment [of ministers] in June there hasn’t been an officer dedicated to ministerial support at Education,’ he said. ‘Secretarial support for education has been intermittent and while we are grateful for their work this has led to us not being able to provide the customer service to the public we would expect. It has been greatly frustrating and ultimately it has led to the delay of the minister being able to get on with some of the initiatives that she wants to get on with. For example, the policy development board for early years. Only now has she finally been able to get something off the ground three months on, and even then it is only a shadow board.’
He added that with three jobs each between them – Senator Vallois is also Deputy Chief Minister and chairman of the States Employment Board, and Deputy Maçon is an assistant minister at both Health and Social Security – the lack of ministerial support was making things ‘stressful’. During States questions recently, he said the minister had had to rely on her own notes and background research whereas other ministers had been handed prepared packs containing all the information they would need to provide answers.
Responding to questions about the issue on Twitter, the Deputy also said he was concerned about possible burnout, particularly for the minister, given her workload.
However, he said he expects the situation to improve soon as conversations are being had about employing someone to take on the role.
Under the new government, many ministerial support functions have been centralised at Cyril Le Marquand House. However, Deputy Maçon said that system was not yet providing the support they needed.