Sir Martin on so­cial mo­bil­ity

The Scarborough Evening News - - WELCOME TO YOUR NEWS - WRIT­TEN BY SIR MARTIN NAREY @ ed­i­to­rial@mal­ton­mer­cury.co.uk @RyedaleNews

Sir Martin Narey, tasked with im­prov­ing the lives of young peo­ple, writes about his hopes for Scar­bor­ough’s youth.

I live in Whitby – it is an area I love and choose to call home. For a long time it has sad­dened me that Whitby, Scar­bor­ough and Fi­ley are ar­eas in which young peo­ple don’t re­alise the same op­por­tu­ni­ties to get on in life as they do in other parts of the coun­try. I be­lieve we can do some­thing about this.

I was born in Mid­dles­brough in the 1950s. Although no one knew it at the time, I was for­tu­nate to be born into a pe­riod of rapid so­cial mo­bil­ity. My fa­ther was a labourer in the Teesside steel­works but I en­joyed op­por­tu­ni­ties of which he could only dream. I was able to climb the so­cial mo­bil­ity lad­der into more re­ward­ing – and much eas­ier – jobs. So­cial mo­bil­ity has since slowed in this coun­try and it’s par­tic­u­larly poor here in this area, as has been high­lighted by the So­cial Mo­bil­ity Com­mis­sion.

We know that our chil­dren and young peo­ple here on the coast are born with no less po­ten­tial than other chil­dren up and down the coun­try. But, for too many, am­bi­tion and as­pi­ra­tion does not blos­som and they don’t achieve as well as chil­dren and young peo­ple do else­where.

So I was de­lighted to ac­cept an in­vi­ta­tion from Jus­tine Green­ing, the then Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, to chair the North York­shire Coast Op­por­tu­nity Area Board – part of the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion’s flag­ship so­cial mo­bil­ity pro­gramme and which in­cludes 11 other ar­eas in the coun­try.

We have cre­ated a pro­gramme board drawn from pro­fes­sion­als across the area and have drafted a plan that we think will make a dif­fer­ence. This has fol­lowed ex­ten­sive work to look at cur­rent per­for­mance, iden­ti­fy­ing where there are par­tic­u­lar problems in our area, and then iden­ti­fy­ing what works in other parts of the coun­try. Our plan, which was pub­lished in Oc­to­ber 2017, sets out four pri­or­i­ties and de­tails prac­ti­cal things we will im­prove over the next three years.

It be­gins with pro­vid­ing great early years ed­u­ca­tion so chil­dren are ready for school. This will mean help­ing nurs­eries and other providers to im­prove how they in­ter­act with chil­dren and to de­velop strong speech and lan­guage skills. We can’t shy away from of­fer­ing more sup­port to par­ents and car­ers too so they can help their chil­dren’s early de­vel­op­ment.

The plan also sets out two fur­ther am­bi­tions that have an im­pact on later life: maths and lit­er­acy. Too many of our dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren and young peo­ple are be­ing left be­hind in these es­sen­tial sub­jects. We are es­tab­lish­ing a maths cen­tre to train teach­ers in world-class ap­proaches to maths teach­ing. We will also launch a lit­er­acy cam­paign across the area in the spring. We ex­pect this cam­paign to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact and nur­ture a love of read­ing in chil­dren, young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies.

Our fourth pri­or­ity is to en­able more young peo­ple to at­tend good or out­stand­ing schools. We will sup­port the im­prove­ment jour­neys for schools which need to do bet­ter. This will mean that 2,000 more young peo­ple are at­tend­ing a good or bet­ter school by the end of the pro­gramme. We will pro­mote this area as a great place to live and work for new and ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers.

We have al­ready started this work; the new ap­proach to maths teach­ing has been launched with pri­mary schools; there is sup­port for early years set­tings led by an out­stand­ing nurs­ery school in Scar­bor­ough; we have en­gaged a group of com­mit­ted em­ploy­ers from the area to give young peo­ple en­coun­ters with the world of work; and we are help­ing more young peo­ple to ac­cess The Na­tional Cit­i­zen Ser­vice. This year we will be launch­ing a pro­gramme to pro­vide free out of school ac­tiv­i­ties for our most dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren to de­velop es­sen­tial life skills of team work, re­silience and self­con­fi­dence.

I have been asked reg­u­larly what suc­cess will look like. Many have been shocked when I have talked about some young peo­ple ven­tur­ing away from the coast in my an­swer – whether that is in pur­suit of work, uni­ver­sity ed­u­ca­tion or travel. We can’t pre­tend that our area will de­liver op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery­one and meet all am­bi­tions –nei­ther can Leeds, Manch­ester or Lon­don. But what we can do, and will do, is equip our young peo­ple with a bril­liant ed­u­ca­tion that means they can achieve their dreams in life, wher­ever that may take them.

Fol­low our jour­ney @ coastOA.

So­cial mo­bil­ity is par­tic­u­larly poor in Scar­bor­ough.

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