THURROCK Council’s determination to improve education and aspiration among the borough’s young people was highlighted at Wednesday (26 October) evening’s special meeting of the cabinet.
The council’s portfolio holder for education told the meeting he was pleased to be putting forward two growth items for the 2012-13 budget consultation.
Cllr Oliver Gerrish said: “In education, we have a very good story to tell with sustained improvements in achievement. However, to really keep our aspirations in motion, more is needed.
“Despite our huge levels of improvement, we are still well short of the level of success we aspire to and we must meet our aims with action.”
He said: “We are determined that young people who have got off to a poor start are not allowed to fall through the cracks and badly damage their future prospects.
“Because education is such a key part of allowing people to make the best of themselves, we are proposing an increase of £250,000 to support our alternative educational provision. This will allow us to meet our statutory duties in relation to children out of school – to ensure they do receive a proper educational offer.”
Cllr Gerrish added: “But there is more to do as well in school improvement. Our record here is really something to be proud of. Over the last few years, we have put in place permanent heads at every opportunity, focused on building leadership and good governance; and the work of our school improvement team has been exceptional.
“But we should not be complacent – for example despite the excellent rise in primary standards this year, we’re still bottom quartile, ranked 116 out of 151 authorities. We need to do better.
So the second education growth proposal concerns an allocation of £250,000 towards our school improvement budget allowing us to continue to buy in the targeted support we need.”
He said that “alongside the capital decisions we have already taken” including new building work at Ormiston Park Academy, The Grays Media and Arts College and Gable Hall, these growth items demonstrated the council’s “strategic focus on education”.