REPRESENTATIVES of nearly every Thurrock school were at the Backstage Centre of the National Skills Academy (NSA) at Purfleet on Monday (18 March) to discuss the future of education in the borough.
They joined politicians from both main parties and senior Thurrock Council staff for the meeting launching the borough’s Education Commission and to meet its chair, Christine Gilbert.
“It was good too to see the Commission so warmly welcomed by colleagues in schools and I am very much looking forward to working with people in Thurrock over the next few months.”
The Commission is expected to report on the state of education in Thurrock later in the year, what is being done right, what needs improving and new ways of working.
Cllr Oliver Gerrish, the council’s portfolio holder for education added: “Here in Thurrock, we are on the way up, we are heading in the right direction of having each and every one of our schools judged ‘good’ or better by Ofsted.
“We want to know what we’re doing right – so we can do more of it – and what we’re not – so that we can change it. We want our schools to learn best practice from each other, to share and celebrate their successes and to be open to new ideas.
“We are improving rapidly, but I want it to be faster still. This commission will take a very close look at where we are and what we are doing.”
Cllr James Halden, the opposition education spokesman was also at Monday’s event. He said: “Acknowledging where we have weaknesses and celebrating examples of success is half the battle.
“The other half is leadership.
“Both parties agreeing not to cut school improvement, to draw down a million pounds from reserves are good examples of cross party leadership, but this summit takes it to a new level where we are boldly setting targets of all schools being at least good. I look forward to representing my party in talks as this process continues.”
Carmel Littleton, Director of Children’s Services, said: “The theme for our Commission is Ambitious for the Future – and that’s exactly what was on display today from our heads and governors, who share an ambition to make Thurrock an outstanding place for learning and opportunity.”
The summit was opened by Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent and also heard from Thurrock chief executive, Graham Farrant.
Vivien Cutler, the council’s Strategic Lead, School Improvement, Learning and Skills also spoke and a question and answer session was held with Christine Gilbert, Cllr Gerrish, and Carmel Littleton on the panel.
Cllr Gerrish said: “This council voted for spending £1 million on reserves for school improvement over the coming three years – that shows how important every member believes achieving the best possible outcomes for our children is, for them individually and for the borough as a whole.
“It is and will remain our number one priority.”