The Education Secretary was in Norwich to reflect on the work of the Opportunity Area in the first year of delivery. His visit started with a tour of City College, speaking to students, and finding out about roll out of the new T level qualifications.
He then met with representatives from the Partnership and Youth Boards to discuss the challenges and learning from the first year of delivery and hear about priorities for the next two years. He was particularly interested in plans for increased parental engagement.
Stuart Allen, Headteacher at Mile Cross primary stressed the importance of having outstanding teachers in front of classes in order to build on improving results at KS1 & KS2 and addressing the increasingly challenging early speech and language issues young children entering school demonstrate through the Communication Champions network.
Alan Hopley, CEO of Voluntary Norfolk, said that he was proud of the positive collaboration taking place but “there are still challenges that suggest there is work to be done, but the Inclusion Charter gives us the mechanism to start doing that.
Shannon and Molly, Youth Board students from The Hewett Academy spoke to him about their recently approved project to provide employability workshops for parents with English as an additional language alongside creativity and resilience workshops for their children.
Finally, he met with representatives from our Cornerstones Employers at a meeting chaired by Brian Lightman, board member of the Careers and Enterprise Company, at Aviva’s marble hall, to explore their role in in supporting and preparing young people across the Opportunity Area for the fast-changing world for work.
Young Aviva apprentice Callum Penny who was a great ambassador for young apprentices and talked about the value of local employers creating meaningful opportunities for young people.
Jasmine, Lauren, Ryan and Will travelled up to Westminster to give a presentation to ministers on what it means to be a young person in an Opportunity Area. Ryan and Jasmine shared their own stories of the challenges that can be typical for young people in an OA, overcoming parent bereavement, coping with SEN and disability, and navigating the different pathways to a successful career. Lauren and Will highlighted the important role of educators, youth workers and employers in providing the support young people need to overcome barriers to success.
Indra Morris, Director General for Children’s Social Care, Social Mobility and Disadvantage at DfE, said “For me the evening belonged to the young people from Norwich. They spoke about their lives, their challenges, their triumphs, what the OA meant to them and how they were actively shaping it”