The council has a proud track record of supporting our nurseries, schools and colleges to give all children in the city a great education, as well as making available to every adult in the city the opportunity to continue their learning. In light of reducing budgets, this is still a priority area for the council.
Set against a backdrop of the removal of democratic accountability for our schools through the process of academisation, it is vitally important that we keep working hard to support our family of schools so far as we can within the existing education framework.
Unlike like other councils, we have retained a lot of expert support for schools – such as educational psychology, school nursing and building and grounds maintenance. And when we build new schools, such as the one we are developing at Waterside, we strive to make sure that they too remain locally accountable.
The council is also responsible for the provision of school places across Leicester. We have managed a £60m school building investment programme to provide thousands of new primary and secondary school places, meaning that a large proportion of school preferences in the city are met.
As well maintaining and improving this sort of support, over the next four years I will also look to work more closely with young people in the parts of the city where post-16 training, employment and education take up is low. Leicester has a robust, diverse economy with many sectors within the city in a position to provide experience and work to these young people. Plans will be drawn up and the council will look to secure investment so that they can.
Libraries and adult learning services have also been protected and continue to offer invaluable spaces and opportunities to learn. I certainly recognise, value and prioritise the need for people to learn throughout their lives and outside of formal education settings.
My priorities include:
- To focus on speech and language development to improve early years development
- Develop special educational needs and disability provision to help all children reach their potential
- Work with partners to develop youth provision
- Ensure our holiday hunger programme continues for as long as it’s needed
- Expand our reading projects – Our Best Book, Reading Rampage and the summer reading challenge
- Protect our library services and roll out a full digital online offer for our library service, including e-books and e-audio books
- Maintain our adult education service with an improved offer for careers advice, ex-offender programmes, digital technology and English language courses.