People are well educated, skilled and earn a decent living
Thriving economy outcome: people are well educated, skilled and earn a decent living
Early years providers and schools continue to offer children high quality education. In 2018, 99 per cent of early years providers, including childminders and nursery settings, were rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, above the national average of 95 per cent. By the end of March 2019, 94.1 per cent of children were attending good or outstanding primary schools, 7.7 percentage points above the national average. At secondary school level, 86.2 per cent of children were attending a good or outstanding school, 7.6 percentage points above the national average. All of our special schools continue to be good or outstanding.
Investing in schools
During 2018-19 we spent £16m on local schools and delivered a programme of improvements to help more children to access their school of choice. This included extensions to some primary and secondary schools and the opening of a £7.3million building at Huntington Community Primary School.
Preferred school places
We work hard to ensure that children are offered one of their preferred school places when families are applying for Reception places in primary schools or Year Seven places at secondary schools. In 2018, 98.1 per cent of families applying for a primary school place got one of their preferred places. This is above the national average for England which is 97.7 per cent. 95.5 per cent of families applying for a secondary school place got one of their preferred places compared to 93.8 per cent nationally.
Educational outcomes for disadvantaged children and young people
Improving the educational outcomes for disadvantaged children and young people, including our children in care, is a priority for the Council. Our Virtual School brings together education leaders to support schools to raise standards further by providing additional support for children, where required, and assisting teachers and school leaders with continued professional development. In 2018 the outcomes for children in our care continued to improve with 43 per cent of children in Key Stage Two achieving the expected standard in the combined subjects of reading, writing and maths compared to just 35 per cent for children in care in England. In Key Stage Four, 29 per cent of our children achieved grade nine to four in both English and maths compared to 17.5 per cent nationally.
Permanent exclusions of pupils in primary, secondary and special schools across the borough remain low, with only 0.05 per cent of pupils permanently excluded compared to the national average of 0.10 per cent. Fixed term exclusions are below the national average with only 3.81 per cent of pupils excluded for a fixed time during 2017/18 compared to a national average of 5.08 per cent. The Council has set up a group of Council officers and primary and secondary school staff to look at ways to prevent pupils being excluded from school. Not for profit organisation, Social Finance Ltd, which specialises in tackling social problems, has been commissioned to develop a way of helping identify children at risk of exclusion. This will be used as part of our early intervention programme.
SEND High Needs Review
In March 2018 we began a review into the provision for children and young people with complex Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) following a national request by the Department for Education. The SEND High Needs Review and consultation has highlighted where improvements can be made around the suitability and sustainability of services in the long term to meet the increasing level and complexity of children and young people with SEND. This will include measures to support the development of inclusion into our mainstream schools where appropriate.
Home to School Transport
We support children and young people with SEND by providing help for them to travel to their educational setting. Our Home to School Transport team manages the Personal Travel Budget, an initiative which gives parents funding to arrange their child’s transport. Between April 2018 and March 2019 there has been a 24 per cent increase in the number of families accessing the Personal Travel Budget. The team is also involved with the Independent Travel Training Scheme in partnership with Dorin Park Primary School, which helps SEND students to achieve their full potential by giving them the skills and confidence to travel to school and social activities themselves. In the past financial year, 28 students with SEND completed the training.
Our four Work Zones support residents hoping to improve their work prospects. The employment support programme includes access to mental health support, debt and housing advice, confidence building and skills development. In 2018/19 we supported 1,586 unemployed or under-employed residents, with 825 people finding a job, an increase of more than 18 per cent since 2016/17. In 2018/19 we enrolled 1,976 adults on 3,308 adult education course places and delivered 44,709 student learning hours including maths, English, IT, confidence building and vocational skills such as construction, fork lift truck, retail, care and business administration.
The Local Supported Employment service
The Local Supported Employment service provides personalised employment support to people with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder and mental health issues. The team offers vocational profiling, one-to-one mentoring and employment brokering to get people into work and help them remain employed. Our large network of supportive employers provides career opportunities in retail, hospitality, catering and construction. 70 people have benefitted from this service since it started in November 2017 with 60 per cent now in employment.
New Leaf Mentoring and Training programme
Our New Leaf Mentoring and Training programme in Ellesmere Port has been successful in helping people with complex barriers to get back into job searching, training and employment. In 2018-19 we worked with 225 participants on the programme and 34 people have progressed on to further learning, eight people who were classed as economically inactive have begun actively job searching, and a further 27 people have got jobs.
Local Living Wage
Care providers Home Instead Senior Care Chester and Special Needs Care Limited joined the list of employers signed up to the Local Living Wage Charter. The Local Living Wage rate in 2018-19 was £8.75 an hour. This is reviewed annually to take into account the real cost of living in the borough and employers have six months to pay the new rate after being informed about a rate change. Leading Cheshire companies are among the list that has shown continued support to the Local Living Wage, including M&S Bank and Urenco UK Ltd. The Local Living Wage is different from the National Living Wage, which was £7.83 per hour for people aged over 25 in 2018-19. This is a mandatory rate set by the government and formerly known as the minimum wage.
Local Living Wage
Edsential is a community interest company jointly owned by Cheshire West and Chester and Wirral councils. All profits are reinvested in services for children. Edsential is committed to changing children's lives by providing a variety of services to children, headteachers, teachers, governors and parents in west Cheshire. 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 as arts, dance and drama.
- 5,320,000 school meals were served
- 639 different schools used Edsential’s Residential and Outdoor Education Service
- 2,000 children played alongside the Hallé Orchestra
- 4,080 GCSE and A-level art sessions were delivered
- here was a 13 per cent increase in Duke of Edinburgh completions - Edsential, the licensed organisation responsible for the delivery of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award in west Cheshire, is the top organisation in the north of England for participation and achievement
- it became North West England Partner for the Centre of Mental Health for Schools and accredited assessor for the Mental Health Award across Primary and Secondary Schools
- it achieved accreditations with British Red Tractor, Marine Stewardship Council and Sustainable Palm Oil as an ethical caterer.
Edsential, in partnership with the Council, has secured £550,000 from the Department of Education. Through a consortium of partners, including Council-owned companies Avenue Services and Vivo, disadvantaged children will be offered free meals and activities across the summer holiday.