Our vision is for Somerset to be the most forward looking area in England for education and learning. Our ambition is that children are safe, healthy, happy; are ambitious for their future, and develop skills for life.
If you work with, or support children or young people in Somerset, this important and exciting strategy relates to you. We want the whole of the Somerset community to be inspired by our vision and to support our ambition. We have high aspirations for all children and young people, and need to work together to secure the best possible future for our children and families, as well as a bright economic future for all Somerset communities.
During the autumn of 2015, the local authority held a series of workshops with leaders and representatives from our wide ranging child care, early help, education, skills and business sectors, to agree a shared vision, and to develop a strategy that will accelerate our ambition to make Somerset a great place for children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.
Our partners include families and communities, and the many different providers across the early years, school, post-16, training and employment sectors, health services and the police. The ‘Strategy for Achieving Excellence for All’ sets out our collective ambition and priorities for each stage in a child and young person’s life, from their early years, to post-16 education, training and employment.
Where we are now
Somerset has a greater percentage than the national average of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools, and many of our educational outcomes compare favourably with similar authorities and national averages. However, our performance is not consistent. In 2015 Somerset’s GCSE results were better than the national average, but attainment at Key Stage 2 was amongst the lowest in England.
A particular concern, is the attainment of our vulnerable learners. Children in Somerset who have special educational needs, those who are looked after by the Council, and those who live in low income families, generally do far less well in Somerset than these groups of children in most other local authority areas.
The strategy contains a comprehensive evaluation of performance and provision from early years to post-16, highlighting our achievements to-date and the areas we need to improve.
Where we want to be
The ‘Strategy for Achieving Excellence for All’ sets out the detail of our ambitious improvement trajectory, including specific performance targets.
Our vision is that all children and young people:
- are safeguarded
- their educational, social and emotional needs are met
- their outcomes are good and they are able to contribute positively to their communities
- are inspired to learn, have high aspirations for their future, and are enabled and provided with equality of opportunity to achieve those aspirations
In three years’ time, we want:
- every child and young person to achieve well above expectations, and not to be disadvantaged by where they live, their needs, or their background
- every child and young person to have the opportunity to attend a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ early years setting and school, and benefit from the best teaching and a great ‘all round’ education
- every young person to have access to, and benefit from, a broad range of pathways to further learning and employment, for their own achievement and for the success of the Somerset economy
- Somerset’s educational attainment at all Key Stages, and for all vulnerable groups, to be amongst the top 25% in England
The keys to our success
New ways of working in partnership are critical for success in our diverse educational and community landscape. This landscape requires the local authority to drive change through strategic influence, highly effective partnership arrangements and collaborative networks. Our pooled effort and shared priorities can achieve better outcomes, increase capacity in the system, and create more innovative solutions, at a time of reducing levels of resource. The strategy sets out our priorities and expectations. These include:
- focusing relentlessly on improving standards and the quality of teaching and learning, so that excellence is promoted along every step of a child’s developmental and learning journey
- increased collaborative working with the early years and childcare sectors
- developing greater accountability of collaborative partnerships of schools, and to ensure they have strong working relationships, in order to provide the best opportunities and deliver the best outcomes for their children and young people
- local 14-19 strategic partnerships to improve effectiveness, and increase capacity, to transform post-16 learning and training opportunities, so that they are truly excellent