Disruption to education was one of the big challenges during the pandemic, leading to school closures, local support services being suspended and poor mental health for some pupils. The lockdowns also hid vulnerabilities for some children who might have been experiencing problems at home or in other aspects of their life.
Locally, teachers responded with innovation and a real focus on doing the best for every child and young person. Classes were delivered digitally and partnerships with schools and other areas of the public sector were strengthened to deliver more seamless support. Similarly, education support, youth services, parenting, and social care adapted by developing new approaches in order to continue their important work.
The major challenge for schools and for services that support children in our borough, is about regaining what has been lost in terms of the social, educational, and personal development of young people in our borough.
Combined with historic cuts to school budgets, the crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers, and now the impact of rising poverty, it is clear that the challenges for our schools are significant.
What is Labour doing locally?
- Working with schools to assess the groups of children and young people that require additional support as a result of the pandemic, for example children transitioning from primary to secondary schools.
- Ensuring that children with special educational needs have their support updated when they return to school after a long break.
- Maintaining plans to ensure virtual learning arrangements are in place if a new variant occurs and school children need to return to home learning.
- Applying for new funding to improve school buildings and learning environments where it is required.
- Looking for opportunities to link education to jobs and skills by encouraging providers of further education and life-long learning to ensure that services are locally accessible across the whole of the borough.
- Implementing our High Needs Review and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy to ensure greater inclusive education is in place.
- Using virtual working across a range of settings including the youth service, children’s centres, parenting support, family visits, educational welfare, and educational support to children in care to improve the accessibility of our services to young people and families.
- Expanding access to rapid support for children and families receiving assistance from social services to stop placements breaking down, or children needing to come in to care.
- Developing a local strategy to reverse the national trend of growing child poverty, with the goal of ending child poverty in our Borough.
- Launching a new support service for people experiencing domestic abuse.
- Developing an improved parenting offer to support new parents.
- Improving the transition of children with special educational needs and disabilities from childhood to adulthood.
- Working with young carers to develop a new All Age Carers Strategy that will set out how we will support those who provide unpaid care for someone else.
- Enhancing support for young people to mitigate the impact on their mental health and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic and other factors.