People are well educated, skilled and earn a decent living
Thriving economy outcome: people are well educated and earn a decent living
School expansion capital programme
Our school expansion capital programme progressed well during 2017-18. Ten schools now have the capacity to meet the demands of increased pupil numbers. This enabled the vast majority of reception and year seven children to start at their first choice of school in autumn 2017, with 91 per cent of primary and 89 per cent of secondary pupils allocated their first choice.
Ofsted inspection results
Our Ofsted inspection results are very encouraging for the future of our borough’s children, young people and adult learners. By the end of 2017-18, 92 per cent of children were attending a good or outstanding primary school, which is two per cent up from the previous year. Three primary schools were named as outstanding, bringing the total of outstanding primary schools to 32. Our secondary schools are top performers in The North West with 96 per cent of children attending a good or outstanding secondary school, which is up four per cent from the previous year.
Local Living Wage
As of 31 March 2018, 38 companies have signed up to the Local Living Wage rate of £8.45* to reduce poverty and help workers earn a decent living. Companies signed up include M&S Bank, Urenco UK Limited, ActiveCheshire, Cheshire West Citizens Advice, Oaklands School, St Saviour’s Primary School, and Weaver Vale Housing Trust. The Council also pays the rate to all directly-employed staff aged 18 and over. Signing up to the charter is voluntary.
*The Local Living Wage is reviewed on an annual basis to look at the real cost of living. The rate for the 2017-18 financial year was £8.45 per hour. Businesses have six months to pay the new rate after being informed about a rate change.
Supporting those out of work
Work Zones were set up in 2013 to provide support to unemployed residents, focusing on long-term unemployment and barriers to employment. They continue to deliver a valuable service in getting people into work, and improving the lives of families. Locations in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Northwich and Winsford offer employability skills courses, one-to-one mentoring, health support, and advice on benefits, childcare, debt and apprenticeships.
To date, Work Zones have provided employment support and skills development to 6,631 people, and supported 2,771 people into new jobs. In 2017-18, unemployment fell to just over three per cent. This is below the England and North West region averages, and down from a peak of seven per cent in 2012.
- 770 people started new jobs – 38 per cent were jobs for people who were long-term unemployed, a 10 per cent increase from the year before
- 921 families dealing with issues such as unemployment, domestic abuse and mental health concerns were supported to make improvements to their quality of life, including 119 families achieving sustained employment
- the percentage of working-age population with NVQ level 3, equivalent or above, is nearly 58 per cent (January to December 2017) compared to 55 per cent in the previous year – this is higher than the North West (54 per cent) and nationally (57 per cent)
- the current employment rate is nearly 75 per cent, representing around 150,800 residents aged 16 to 64– this figure has been increasing since 2015-16 when the baseline was set
- the median gross weekly earnings for residents in full-time employment rose to £556 – this is higher than the median gross weekly earnings for both the UK and North West.
Adult education has been delivered through multiple services, including Work Zones, the Family Learning team working in schools and children’s centres, and by our subcontracted adult education providers. Adult education was graded as “good” by Ofsted inspectors in March 2018 for the third time. Results include:
- 2,727 residents engaged in learning
- 4,826 learning enrolments
- 64,942 tutor hours across 1,423 separate courses
Providing residents with affordable savings
In 2015, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, Muir Housing, For Housing, Sanctuary Group and Weaver Vale Housing Trust commissioned West Cheshire Credit Union to provide practical savings and affordable lending services to residents and people who work in the borough and have trouble accessing mainstream financial services. The credit union can be a lifeline for residents who have limited or less than perfect credit history and those who are at risk of falling prey to payday lenders.
The credit union has grown significantly since 2015, with locations in Winsford, Ellesmere Port and Chester. It now boasts over 4,000 members, lending over £3.5 million in small and medium-sized loans.
In 2017-18, the West Cheshire Credit Union:
- began the Break Free service, providing affordable loans to buy furniture
- established a high street presence in the Winsford Cross Shopping Centre
- is developing a new location in Chester city centre, which is expected to open in September 2018.
West Cheshire Credit Union
Edsential is a community interest company, co-owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Wirral Council, and all profits are reinvested back into services for children. It is committed to changing children’s lives by providing a variety of services to children, head teachers, teachers, governors and parents in Cheshire West and Chester. In response to emerging needs, they have shifted focus toward supporting mental health and emotional wellbeing, increasing physical activity and improving attainment in less-traditional subjects, such arts, dance and drama.
Edsential's 2017-18 achievements:
- 28,000 school meals every day
- over 25,800 hours of musical instrument tuition
- 26,000 visitors from 639 schools used Edsential's six residental centres for outdoor activities and arts courses
- over 1,000 children have taken part in creative arts projects
- 1,500 hours of swimming lessons at 80 schools