CAMPAIGNING AGAINST THE EDUCATION CUTS THAT HOLD OUR CHILDREN BACK
1. The Tory Government’s policy of austerity has hit school budgets hard. We will continue to oppose school cuts and campaign for better funding for our borough’s schools and education support services.
THE TRUE COST OF SCHOOL CUTS IN CHESHIRE WEST
Research by the NUT suggest 135 of 140 local schools will face cuts. The average class size in Cheshire West and Chester has increased since 2014/15. The loss in school funding between 2015 and 2020 is -£11.8M (-£286 per pupil).
SUPPORTING RESIDENTS WITH A LOCAL EDUCATION SERVICE FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE
2. Labour wants Cheshire West and Chester to be
the best place for children and young people to
grow up. To enable this, we will:
- Continue to develop our groundbreaking Starting Well service for 0-19 year olds. We will work with our partners to support our Children’s centres and ensure they provide the services the community needs.
- Support high quality nursery provision, including encouraging more residents to take up free places.
- Lobby the government for better funding of ‘free places’, so providers can offer places at no cost disadvantage.
- Improve mental health services by providing support which is accessible to all children and young people, including IT-based services and support for parents and carers.
3. We are opposed to the forced academisation of local schools and, together with our Labour members of Parliament, we will campaign for poorly performing academies to come back under Local Authority control.
4. We will be innovative in supporting local
- Continuing our council-led strategic approach to raising attainment, we will close the gap and tackle disadvantage within schools by working collaboratively with our education partners like the Cheshire West Education Improvement Board, Teaching Schools and the Regional Schools Commissioner.
- We will offer vigorous challenge to schools where we see failure.
- We will continue to strive for all local authority schools to be rated Good our Outstanding by Ofsted.
- We will support development opportunities for local authority school governors to strengthen the leadership of our borough’s local schools
GETTING THE BEST START IN LIFE
Labour believes every child deserves to be given the best chance to achieve their full potential. Over the last four years we have ensured our children’s centres remain open and we have developed an innovative 0-19 years “Starting Well Service”. We have worked with childcare and early years providers to ensure families can access services that prepare their child for school. We have also developed a strategy for closing the gap in educational attainment by working with a schools and other organisations, and by implementing a Child Poverty Strategy to make sure we take an holistic approach to tackling the causes and impact of poverty.
5. Children with special educational needs deserve
the best start in life. We will support this by:
- Developing an Inclusion Award to be promoted in all schools alongside an Inclusion strategy to make our schools as inclusive as possible and to help reduce the numbers of children excluded, home educated, or in special education.
- Continuing to subsidise school transport for eligible post-16 students with special needs and disabilities.
- Making sure children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and their families are well supported to access services and advice. We will also ensure our high needs provision is of excellent quality and appropriate to children and young people’s needs.
6. We will work with Higher and Further Education partners to provide the best education and training opportunities.
7. Labour will work with young people to improve
our offer for them, so:
- Our youth service meets community demand, expands opportunities for young people and can continue to operate in the context of the devastating cuts these services have faced from the Tory Government nationally.
- Local stakeholders and providers can come together to develop new provision which meets the needs of specific local areas.
- Local businesses, cultural venues and sports clubs can provide an ‘offer’ for vulnerable children and young people.
HEADING FOR 100%
Currently over 90% of children attend a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted-rated school in Cheshire West. We want to make this 100% but we recognise government cuts have led many of our schools being underfunded. Cheshire West remains one of the lowest funded education areas in the country. National structures means some poorly performing academy schools are not addressed swiftly enough and school improvement systems are fragmented. We will continue our efforts to lobby Ministers to properly fund and support our schools whilst working with all education partners to get the best outcomes for local children.
We recognise some children and young people need extra support. Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) deserve equal learning opportunities and experiences as those children without these needs. That’s why we will work alongside parents, carers, schools and children to ensure young people with additional needs are identified and supported appropriately, and that all schools in Cheshire West and Chester are consistently inclusive.
EMPLOYMENT USING OUR LOCAL WORKZONES
8. We will work with colleges and employers to create better access to training and post-16 apprenticeships, enabling young people to be work-ready for job opportunities in our borough.
9. Our Work Zones, which provide integrated employment support for residents, have delivered 3,540 qualifications to date, and supported more than 2,500 people into work. We will continue to help more people back into work, and we will help those experiencing low pay into better paid employment.
10. We will set an example as a local employer by:
- Continuing our work to reduce the gender pay gap in the council’s workforce and recognising the excellent work already done through our Women into Leadership programme.
- Building on the achievement of being awarded the Silver Investors in People Award, by pursuing the Gold Award status.
- Continuing our partnership with Trade Unions, including continuing to have workplace representatives who advocate for our employees and bridge the gap between the workforce and the organisation.