Government outlines multi-million pound plan to transform Ipswich’s education
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Education bosses in Westminster have unveiled a detailed multi-million pound plan to turn around Ipswich’s education fortunes, as ministers vow not to leave Ipswich behind.
Ipswich is one of 12 areas across the country identified by the Department for Education as an opportunity area, where challenges facing youngsters was among the greatest in the country.
A collective £72million pot has been earmarked for the dozen communities in a bid to ensure children gain the best outcomes.
The Government’s delivery plan published on Friday revealed a host of measures to improve outcomes for children and bolster teaching in the town.
The plan outlined four priorities for education bosses to tackle: equipping all children with important life skills, strengthening the teaching profession with more training and development opportunities, improving attainment for disadvantaged pupils – particularly in English and maths, and helping equip youngsters for them to pursue their chosen careers.
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The Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times can reveal that minister Nadhim Zahawi has pledged to allow Ipswich’s youngsters to achieve their full potential.
He said: “Today, Ipswich is a growing and thriving commercial centre that offers real opportunities for young people growing up here.
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“At the same time, we need to do more to help some of Ipswich’s most disadvantaged children overcome a difficult start in life and fulfil their true potential.
“Right now these children are some of the lowest achieving in the country – and that’s not acceptable.”
He added: “It’s the right thing to do for young people in Ipswich who all deserve a chance to be the very best version of themselves.
“Your background shouldn’t dictate the opportunities you have access to and none of us should expect any less of our young people because of where they come from.”
The plan includes opportunities to benefit from a share of £25m in literacy and numeracy skills, and the chance for multi-academy trusts to bid for a slice of £46m dedicated to underperforming schools.
A consultation will begin with young people in Ipswich, with a reference group being established by April consisting of 11-18 year olds to feedback the programme’s actions.
School census data revealed that persistent absence and attainment rates were below the national average – with less than half of all pupils achieving the expected standard in reading and writing by the end of key stage two.
A host of measures to kick start the campaign have already been outlined, including programmes to support children during the early stages of language and behaviour learning, new schemes to bridge the gap between learning at school and at home and a stronger programme of youngsters carrying out volunteer and skills-based work such as the National Citizen Service scheme.
Elsewhere, schools will be able to apply for funding of up to £25,000 for projects supporting disadvantaged pupils and access support funded by the Strategic School Improvement Fund and Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund.
The Careers and Enterprise Company is set to join up with local businesses and schools to offer more encounters with children. Research shows four encounters with employers can help young people be as much as 86% less likely to be unemployed.
The action plan states that schools in Ipswich struggle to recruit and retain high quality education professionals. To combat that, newly qualified teachers with receive additional intensive support, while development and progression opportunities will be increased for existing teachers.
New routes into teaching via internships and apprenticeships aim to attract more people into the profession.
A board comprising some of Ipswich’s top education bosses has been formed, chaired by former University of Suffolk vice-chairman Richard Lister.
He said: “The Ipswich Opportunity Area is a highly aspirational programme that will improve the achievements and life chances of children and young people in our town.
“The delivery plan outlines some of the exciting ways in which the programme, driven by the partnership board and local working groups, will enable education settings, parents and the local communities to work together to transform opportunities for children and young people in our town.
“We are determined to show that by working together as a community, we can improve education outcomes.”
Ambitious targets have been set for the plan’s lifespan – including halving the development gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers by 2021, halving absence rates, reducing teacher vacancies to below the national average, increasing teacher satisfaction, lifting key stage two and key stage four attainment into the top half of all local authorities nationally, and getting 44% of disadvantaged youngsters into higher education.
Mr Zahawi added: “The Opportunity Area plan for Ipswich is ambitious.
“I want to urge everyone to read and engage with the plan for Ipswich; I think there’s a real opportunity to make a new universal offer on opportunity to young people here.
“Working together, we can create more opportunities for future generations to come.”