Essex Education Task Force unveils plan for education renewal

Education / Sat 3rd Jul 2021 at 10:57am

THE newly formed Essex Education Task Force has announced it will invest £1million in reading over the next 18 months, to support children and young people affected by the loss of learning and missed opportunities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marked by the launch of a new campaign, Essex Year of Reading 2022, the group’s aim is to ensure that every Essex child leaves school able to read at their age level or better.

The investment is part of ambitious plans to address the short- and long-term impact of Covid-19 on children and young people’s education.

In addition, the task force plans to invest £500,000 into mental health and emotional wellbeing support. This includes pledging commitments and resources in the following areas:

  • Providing transition coaches for vulnerable children moving from primary to secondary school
  • Helping vulnerable students over 16 years of age move into further education
  • Providing £100,000 of funding to the voluntary sector for summer and half-term holiday outdoor learning for vulnerable students and those with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities
  • Investment in the wellbeing of leaders
  • Investment in early years’ language development.

Roy Blatchford CBE, Independent Chair of the Essex Education Task Force, said: “We know that being able to read confidently is the key to being a successful learner in all other areas of life. We strongly believe this investment will help those who have fallen behind with their reading over the past year and help them to thrive in other aspects of their education. Together, with the additional commitments we have outlined, we will help children and young people prosper after a very disruptive time.

“During the roll out of the Year of Reading, we will be working with many local partners across Essex such as libraries, Adult Community Learning, and local businesses, in addition to schools and colleges. We also recognise the enormous impact that Covid-19 has had on education colleagues. Our plans include additional support and resources to help both their pupils and their own wellbeing.”

Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council’s (ECC) Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Skills and Training, said: “Investing £1million to improve and promote reading from early years through to schools and into further education, demonstrates the level of our commitment to children and young people across Essex. It has been an incredibly difficult year for them and this additional support will help them to thrive and support education colleagues to enable them to do so.

“We want the county to be at the forefront of shaping education policy and achieving bright futures for all pupils, and are confident that our plans will help to make this a reality.”

The investment plan for the Education Task Force mirrors the three guiding principles of Renewal, Equality and Ambition set out by ECC’s Leader, Cllr Kevin Bentley, in May.

ECC is committed to championing equity, inclusion and excellence for all to ensure that no child in Essex is left behind or disadvantaged from the pandemic.

Following the launch of the Essex Education Task Force, a new website has been created to keep interested parties informed on the Task Force’s priorities and activities, and will be updated in due course. 

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