THURROCK’S schools will soon receive a letter of congratulations from the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, recognising the recent positive exam results and great work they do across the borough for its young people.The committee heard on Thursday (13 October 2016) how many of the provisional results, including those at GCSE level but also in primary schools, had improved significantly. Councillors want to thank all schools and recognise this achievement.Cllr Bukky Okunade, Chair of the committee, said: “To be outperforming against the national average in some areas reflects the positive learning environment created by our schools, their teachers, parents and carers as well as the council’s education team. We have seen a steady improvement, and although there is always more we can do, especially for our looked after children, this is a really positive direction. A review of the virtual school, which supports children in the council’s care, will take place to ensure they get the best education and support including those attending school outside of the borough.In a packed agenda, the committee also heard from the Youth Cabinet and their activities in Democracy Week which included question and answer sessions involving Cllrs Okunade and Redsell from the committee and the Education and Health Portfolio Holder, Cllr James Halden. This was a positive experience on both sides, listening to ideas and changing perceptions. There was even a suggestion for “Democracy Year !The committee also received a report on pupil placement planning and the capital programme to ensure every child in Thurrock has a place in school. The committee supported plans to expand and add additional places, including in the longer-term, through work to secure funding for new build free schools.The recommendations of the recent Ofsted inspection were also reviewed with Councillors reassured to hear the inspectors found children to be safe in Thurrock with no individual cases of concern identified. A robust action plan is in place though to address the areas which require improvement the overall rating of the inspectors.Cllr Okunade said after the meeting: “There is so much work taking place across the Children’s services directorate to support our young people. We have also heard how we learn from the complaints we receive in social care but also over 100 compliments during last year for the work we do. Clearly there are challenges ahead with more children in our borough needing assistance and finite resources but I am pleased to hear of the detailed review we are doing with iMPOWER to make the service as efficient as it can be. More information on children’s services can be found at thurrock.gov.uk/children.
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