SCC News Update – November 2014
Big improvements in early years and Key Stage 1 results
The story: The number of Suffolk’s three to seven year olds achieving expected levels of attainment has improved significantly, figures show.
New statistics released by the Department for Education indicate an improvement in early years and Key Stage 1 attainment and, therefore, an upward surge in Suffolk’s position in national league tables. Suffolk has made a big improvement of 10% in their Early-Years Foundation-Stage Profile (EYFSP). This means there are 10% more children in Suffolk achieving a good level of development in 2014 (59%) than in 2013 (49%). The step up in progress has resulted in Suffolk moving up five places in the local authority early-years league tables to 85th place. Part of the increase is down to boys’ literacy, which has moved up 13 places in local authority rankings to 79. The literacy of boys in Suffolk is now higher than nationally. The figures for Key Stage 1 show: reading is up 17 places, from 78% reaching expected levels of attainment (ELA) in 2013 to 81% this year; writing is up 14 places, from 68% reaching ELA in 2013 to 71% this year; maths is up three places, from 78% reaching ELA in 2013 to 80% this year; by the end of Year 2 the percentage of pupils who have met the phonics standard is up from 84% in 2013 to 89% this year. This moves the LA ranking by 41 places. These results mean that Suffolk has now either met or exceeded national figures for Key Stage 1.
Key message: Ensuring our children have the best possible start to their education lays the platform for higher attainment further down the line. The fact that children in Suffolk are meeting or exceeding the national figures is an excellent achievement, and one from which we will continue to build.
Improved attainment levels in Suffolk schools
The story: New figures published by the government last month show that the number of five to seven year olds in Suffolk achieving expected levels of attainment in reading, writing and maths has improved significantly this year.
The figures are provisional, with final data released in January 2015. However, significant changes are not expected. The figures show: reading is up 17 places, from 78% reaching expected levels of attainment in 2013 to 81% this year; writing is up 14 places, from 68% reaching expected levels of attainment in 2013 to 71% this year; maths is up 3 places, from 78% reaching expected levels of attainment in 2013 to 80% this year, and; Year 2 phonics is up 41 places, from 84% reaching expected levels of attainment 2013 to 89% this year. This forecasted boost in results and subsequent move up the education league tables for Suffolk is excellent news and a testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers, heads, governors, parents and, most importantly, students.
Key message: Raising educational attainment is our number-one priority. This news is extremely encouraging and confirms we are heading in the right direction. However, there is a long way to go, and we will continue to do all we can to drive up attainment in education.
Suffolk first in the country to extend Better Broadband BDUK programme
The story: Plans to extend the roll-out of super-fast broadband to more households and business were signed and sealed last week.
SCC and BT signed a contract, under the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, to continue working together on the provision of a fibre network for Suffolk. The project will use public and private funds to deliver a fibre network to parts of the county not covered by previous plans. The contract signing took place at Endeavour House in Ipswich and was attended by SCC leader Mark Bee, BT’s Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Access, and Mark Pendlington, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership; senior officers from the county council and BT, and county councillors. Along with other commercial and existing programmes, the contract aims to extend the coverage of fibre broadband to 95% of homes and businesses in Suffolk. The £15m capital grant from BDUK will be locally matched by £5m from the New Anglia LEP’s Local Growth Fund and £10m from SCC. The roadside fibre broadband cabinets that are being connected to the network serve very localised areas, so not all parts of the towns and villages where they are located will be able to receive fibre broadband initially. As the service becomes increasingly available, people should use the ‘Better Broadband for Suffolk’ website (www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com) to check to see if their home or business can receive faster broadband services.
Key message: We are leading the wayin the roll-out of super-fast broadband – one of the most important infrastructure projects we can undertake. Not only will it have great economic benefits - giving Suffolk a vital competitive advantage – but will have huge benefits for residents across the county – helping improve quality of life, and enabling major improvements in the speed and ease with which public services are provided.
UK’s first Youth Employment Centre opening soon
The story: Work has begun on the UK’s first ever dedicated youth employment centre, at Fraser House in Ipswich.
In October 2013, Ipswich was unveiled as the location of the MyGo centre which will open in November 2014. The centre will pioneer a new approach to helping young people get into work. Led by businesses, local councils, New Anglia LEP and Jobcentre Plus, this programme will help achieve the goal of halving youth unemployment in the greater Ipswich area over the next two years. The MyGo centre will offer all 16-24 year olds in Ipswich and the surrounding area free training, career and employment support. The project is being funded by money secured via the Greater Ipswich City Deal. EOS Works Ltd, a training and welfare company, has recently been appointed by SCC to operate the MyGo Centre. Outreach services will also be provided from mid-2015 across greater Ipswich, including those living in Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal. The centre will be staffed by Jobcentre Plus, EOS and Tomorrows People employees working together so that young people can access all the help they need in one place.
Key message: We are committed to working with our partners to support young people as they seek a foot on the career ladder. That first step can be the hardest, and we will continue to do all we can to help people get into work.
County council pledge to tackle mental health
The story: Mark Bee, leader of SCC, and Deborah Cadman, the council’s chief executive, have signed the Time to Change Organisational Pledge.
The Time to Change organisational pledge, signed on World Mental Health Day, is a public statement of aspiration that as an organisation, Suffolk County Council will tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. The council has submitted an action plan to Time to Change which demonstrates how this pledge will be carried out. Signing the pledge, Mark said: “This is a significant step forward for Suffolk County Council, as we aspire to eradicate discrimination and the stigma of mental ill-health. We are now firmly aligned with Time to Change, England's biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. We have come a long way with regard to mental health positive awareness, and there is still a journey to undertake, but we will work to achieve this collaboratively as a strong organisation and will strive to ensure that equality and inclusion underpins everything we do.” A day of events which featured this year’s theme of schizophrenia was also held at various council offices to mark World Mental Health Day. Local specialist organisations were invited in to showcase the services they offer as well as offer taster sessions in various therapies. Drop in counselling sessions were also available with a counsellor from SuffolkMIND.
Key message: Mental health has often been overlooked, when taken alongside other health issues. Signing this pledge is a sign of our commitment to raise awareness and help eradicate the stigma that is so often unfairly attached to mental health.
Key improvements in safe-guarding children praised
The story: A report by the Suffolk Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) highlighting safeguarding services in Suffolk was praised at the SCC cabinet meeting this week.
The LSCB Annual Report summarises the changes undertaken by Children and Young People Services (CYPS) and their partners over the past year to improve safeguarding services and training. A commitment to work in multi-agency partnerships in Suffolk was also reflected in the report. Having redesigned aspects of its delivery to increase early intervention, CYPS have invested in training to ensure changes are felt in the front line to improve services to children and their families. A full training programme for SCC staff started in February 2014. 300 staff were trained by April 2014 and a further 800 by October 2014. There is also an ongoing programme for engaging partner agencies in the training. There has been a 33.8% reduction in the length of time children are subject to Child Protection Plans over 18 months, and 83% of Chairs of Child Protection Conferences have been independently assessed as good or outstanding.
Key message: Protecting vulnerable children in Suffolk is one of our most profound and fundamental responsibilities – something we treat with the utmost importance. The praise for the improvements we have made is extremely encouraging, and underlines the on-going commitment we make, and will continue to make, to this vital issue.
Success for first-ever Suffolk Skills Show
The story: Suffolk businesses turned out in great numbers to support the first-ever Suffolk Skills Show; a skills and careers event reaching over 4,000 young people.
The event set out to engage Suffolk’s young people and provide an insight into the career opportunities available to them locally. The show, which took place at Trinity Park in Ipswich, targeted those aged between 11 and 24. The businesses exhibiting at the event worked hard to ensure those attending left with their eyes opened to the wide range of careers across Suffolk, some which they may never have considered. There were many interactive indoor and outdoor stands showcasing opportunities in energy, IT and technology, finance and business services, creative digital, agriculture, construction, motor vehicle, advanced manufacturing, ports and logistics as well as HM Forces and a ‘have a go’ area where attendees were able to try their hand at new skills. Those unable to make the event during the day were encouraged to come along for a drop in session in the evening to explore options available to them locally; giving them an opportunity to talk to employers, colleges, training providers and advisers about their future careers.
Key message: The world of work can often seem a bewildering place to a young person. The Suffolk Skills Show plays a vital role in opening up the world of work to people, and enabling them to understand the opportunities that are out there and the skills that are needed.
Suffolk’s blue-light partnership awarded nearly £5million in funding
The story: A newly-awarded government grant will help increase the number of shared bases in Suffolk for fire, police and ambulance services.
The grant of £4.94 million follows the submission of a joint-bid, led by SCC’s Fire and Rescue Service, earlier in the year to the Department of Communities and Local Government. As Colin Spence, SCC’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “Over the last two years, we have worked with our partners to create four shared fire and police stations which are located in Ixworth, Elmswell, Debenham and Framlingham. Ambulance crews are now based at fire stations in Lowestoft and Brandon. This national funding will support the co-location of our front-line blue-light services at further locations across Suffolk. Work will continue to establish the possibility of further shared blue-light bases across the county.” The national funding will be provided in 2015 to help establish more shared bases in Suffolk. The collaborative approach creates long-term financial savings for all parties and it will help the partners work more closely together in the community. The potential three-year programme could bring the number of blue-light shared fire stations to 12 out of a total of 35 Fire and Rescue Service buildings.
Key message: This grant is great news, and a vindication for the innovative work we have undertaken to bring together blue-light services where we can. This is an exciting project, and this £5million grant will help us take our work on to the next stage.