Pupils in Essex are set to benefit from £1.5million of funding as the council looks to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children's education.

An independently-led task force will invest the money, from the county council's reserves, in education recovery across Essex - with £500,000 allocated specifically for children's mental health.

The first meeting of the new Essex education task force, chaired by education specialist Roy Blatchford, who previously served as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools (HMI) in England, took place recently.

The group also includes members from Essex County Council, early years, primary, secondary and special schools, further education and the voluntary and youth sector.

The task force is seeking to address key areas such as language development, mental health and wellbeing, the loss of extra-curricular activities, the ‘digital divide’, post-16 and post-18 education, training and employment, as well as support for vulnerable children and young people and those with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).

East Anglian Daily Times: Essex County CouncilEssex County Council (Image: Archant)

Tony Ball, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “After an incredibly difficult year for children, young people and the education sector across Essex, the first meeting of the task force is an important turning point and we are looking ahead to the future with hope and optimism.

“We have always been clear that a high-quality education is the right of every child and young person.

"Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has not changed.

"We will continue to support every pupil to thrive and help education colleagues to enable to them to do so.

“We are not only seeking to support the sector on a local level, but also to effect change at a national level and to help develop and shape new ways of working for the benefit of children and young people across Essex."

Mr Blatchford, independent chairman of the task force, said: “It was clear in our first meeting that there is a strong and collective desire across education partners in Essex to address and minimise the impact of the pandemic on all children and young people as quickly as possible.

“Our aim is to ensure that no child or young person in Essex is left behind or disadvantaged due to the pandemic and that the opportunities available to them are not limited because of the events of the past year.

“In addition, we want to seize opportunities to capture and promote innovation and best practice across the education system in Essex.

"We want the county to be at the forefront of shaping education policy and achieving bright futures for all pupils.”