Agenda item - Chair's Communications
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- Meeting of Children, Young People & Skills Committee, Monday, 1st June, 2015 4.00pm (Item 3.)
- View the background to item 3.
3.1 The Chair provided the following communication:
“Can I begin by welcoming everyone to today’s first meeting of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee – the first of the committee meeting cycle since the recent elections.
Whether you are a new councilor or a returning councilor, I’d like to congratulate you on being elected here. Can I also note my thanks to the previous administration’s committee chair, Sue Shanks, and to those Councillors who served the interests of children and young people in the previous administration. Regardless of party affiliations, we all gather here to serve our community the best way we can.
The new composition of the committee of course reflects the democratic wishes of the residents of Brighton & Hove. On May 7th they voted locally for both a change of leadership and change of direction at the Council. They have signaled to us all, I think, that they want to see an administration that works better for them. In practice, that means getting on and working together to improve the educational outcomes and life chances of every child and young person in the city.
The committee, you’ll see, has added the consonant ‘S’ at the end of its title. We will discuss the change more formally in a moment. But I would like to add that the S for Skills is a very deliberate addition to the committee’s remit by the new administration.
I think we’d all agree that excellent education and skills are the engines of social mobility and prosperity in our communities. Working closely with the economic development board chaired by the new Leader of the Council, and with the health and wellbeing board, chaired by Cllr Yates, we have an opportunity to really join-up the needs of children and young people in a more holistic way. For example, improving school to work transitions in the city is as much an economic issue as it is an educational one. And tackling growing childhood obesity is about promoting healthier choices both within and beyond our schools.
With the next election some way off, I hope you will feel like me, that it is incumbent upon us all to find common ground where we can; particularly in setting stretching and ambitious goals for education and children’s services for the city. I say to you, let’s all work together to set some really ambitious goals for better children’s and youth services in the city; and then play your part in holding our feet to the fire to achieve them.
At the moment, our ambitions for education, children's services and skills are falling well short of where they should be. Of course, it’s important to recognise and celebrate some really outstanding and good schools; and we have some really fantastic teaching and children’s services that are being provided in our local authority area. I am the father of three young children living in Hove, which means I am an active and informed user of the many good services that the council provides.
But we also know that for such a creative and dynamic city we could be doing so much better:
Compared to other local authorities, we have a real attainment gap, for both average and particularly disadvantaged pupils
There are too many children growing up in poverty – in some wards it’s as high as 40 per cent.
There is growing pressure on school places at all levels – and the city desperately needs to get on and build a new secondary school
We are currently below the national average in terms of Level 3 attainment, including poor vocational skills provision, despite the fact we are home to two excellent universities
Youth unemployment is low compared to the national average – yet we are almost alone in England – by failing to increase the number of apprenticeship starts since 2011; which suggests to me a breakdown in how we effectively work with local employers.
As your chair, I will bring to this role an unshakeable commitment never to accept second best for our children and young people of the city. I bring with me professional experience of 20 years working in education and training; and more recently working in other countries seeing how they manage similar challenges – often in very imaginative and entrepreneurial ways. I will be sharing some of these insights with the Director of Children’s Services and his team.
Can I take this opportunity to formally introduce Councillor Chapman, who will act as the committee’s deputy chair; as well as support me and the Director of Children’s Services in driving through the required change.
With the right leadership team some really extraordinary things can be achieved. But it will take some boldness and a willingness to put aside party political differences at times. Yes, we have to recognise that this is financially an unprecedented time for local government, particularly given central government cuts. There is some welcome protection to the schools part of the budget in cash terms, but governors and head teachers we know may still struggle to balance the books. Despite all this, my appeal to you would be this: let’s keep our focus on what more can be achieved to improve education and children’s services in our city, even in these challenging times.
Finally, you should know that I do not bring any pre-conceived ideology or dogma about education and policy to this role. My business life has taught me to be biased to action, not processes. Educational standards are far more important to me than structures. My focus, working with all of you – is that I will strive hard to work in as consensual a manner as possible – I will always try to bring us back to the central challenge that both we and the city will face:
o How do we unite and work together to achieve the best education, skills and children's services outcomes for our great city?
o How do we become one of the best local authorities in the UK, rated as at least Good or Outstanding by OfSted within the next 4 years?
o How do we set a course that achieves world-class status for our city when it comes to education, young people and skills?
This is after all, I hope you’ll agree, what we have been put here by the residents of Brighton & Hove to work towards”.
“Congratulations to two Brighton & Hove schools who are the winners of the Reading Recovery Awards 2015 which celebrate and honour practitioners who have made an outstanding contribution to children's literacy through Reading Recovery and are awarded by UCL Institute of Education. Reading Recovery School of the Year Award went to Pippa Davis at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School, for work supporting parental involvement. Inspirational Manager of the Year Award went to Jenny Aldridge, Rudyard Kipling Primary School, for work with community engagement and high aspiration for literacy learning for all.
I know what a difference this work and the Every Child a Reader programme is making to the outcomes for young people and I also want to thank all those who make this a reality in the city”
“Brighton & Hove has been short listed as one of the finalists for the Public Health Partnershipscategory and for Legal Services. Local Authority representatives will attend the awards ceremony on the evening of Thursday 18th June, at the Hilton, Park Lane, London”.