Ambitious plans to transform education and drive improvements in Somerset schools have been unveiled.
Somerset Council’s new five-year education strategy was shared with professionals from across schools, local authorities, Ofsted and the Department for Education at the Somerset Education for Life event, held at Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton yesterday (21 March)
The new plans have been developed following reports that Somerset is in the top ten Local Authorities nationally for the proportion of inadequate schools, and recent poor exam results across the board.
Clear 5-year goals were proposed at the event, including:
Improved access to support in the early years of life so that every child is ready to start school confidently
Increased inclusion in all schools, educational settings and in our communities so every child is actively involved in their education 100% of the time
Strong and supportive leadership capacity within and between Somerset schools so that improvement is shared, sustainable and educational outcomes are improved in every key phase
Ensuring young people have access to further and higher education in the county, so they can develop adaptable skills equipping them to join and progress in the workforce in Somerset.
The Strategy was shaped and informed by research conducted by think and action-tank the Centre for Education and Youth (CFEY), who attended the event. CFEY’s research led to a recommendation that Somerset’s schools and the Council should work more closely together to achieve the ambitious targets outlined in the Strategy. As a result, schools from across the county and Council education professionals have committed to join forces to tackle challenges head on, support each other, and deliver much needed improvement.
Claire Winter, Somerset Council’s Acting Director of Children & Families Services said:
Though the recent exam results were disappointing for everyone working in education in Somerset, they’ve provided us with a really strong mandate for change. We have significant work ahead, but we’re united by a shared vision of a better future for children and young people in Somerset.
We are holding ourselves accountable for these ambitions, and have asked CFEY to develop a data framework to check we are all making progress against our objectives. For example, by surveying school leaders, we can check they feel effectively supported by the Council and have opportunities for shared training and development, and by surveying parents we can find out what the barriers to schools attendance are.
Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead for Children & Families at Somerset Council, said:
The event was aptly titled ‘Somerset Education for Life’, because a great education needs much more than just time spent in school. A great education is built on foundations of a healthy and loving home environment, access to educational and cultural experiences whether online or in the physical world, and a culture which supports children and young people to reach their full potential. This means that quality housing, nutrition, healthcare and excellent transport are all critical parts of the recipe of an excellent education.
We have high ambitions for education in Somerset – it is, after all, a place which has nurtured many current leaders in business, culture and even politics – and their influence can be felt across the world stage. Investing in our children and young people is investing in the future – they are our future leaders, and will be the ones to tackle and hopefully overcome some of the seemingly impossible challenges we grapple with today.
So while the old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ certainly rings true, with this Strategy we are asking you to join us in imagining what an entire county can achieve. We firmly believe that by working together we can help children thrive and reach their full potential.
You can find out more about Somerset Education for Life at Education for Life Strategy.