Disruption to education has been 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 have responded with innovation and a real focus on doing the best for every child and young person. Classes have been delivered digitally and partnerships with schools and other areas of the public sector have been strengthened to deliver more seamless support. Similarly, education support, youth services, parenting, and social care have 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.
What will Labour do?
As leaders of Cheshire West and Chester Council and in partnership with Labour MPs in our area, Labour will:
- Work 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.
- Ensure that children with special educational needs have their support updated when they return to school after a long break.
- Maintain plans to ensure virtual learning arrangements are in place if an outbreak occurs in a school and children need to return to home learning.
- Apply for new funding to improve school buildings and learning environments where it is required.
- Look 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.
- Implement our High Needs Review and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy to ensure greater inclusive education is in place.
- Use 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.
- Expand 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.
- Develop a local strategy to reverse the national trend of growing child poverty, with the goal of ending child poverty in our Borough.
- Launch a new support service for people experiencing domestic abuse.
- Develop an improved parenting offer to support new parents.
- Improve the transition of children with special educational needs and disabilities from childhood to adulthood.
- Work 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.
- Enhance support for young people to mitigate the impact on their mental health and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic.