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Justine Greening backs Ipswich Opportunity Area action plan to improve social mobility

PUBLISHED: 17:17 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 14 December 2017

Education Secretary Justine Greening visiting Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Education Secretary Justine Greening visiting Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Education Secretary Justine Greening today backed an action plan designed to overhaul historically low levels of social mobility in Ipswich.

Education Secretary Justine Greening visiting Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Education Secretary Justine Greening visiting Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich has been identified as one of 12 ‘opportunity areas’ by the government which wants to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children in these ‘cold spot’ social mobility areas.

The opportunity areas, announced earlier this year and identified using the government’s social mobility index, will receive a £6m share of £72m funding to improve children’s attainment and access to employers and university, and build teaching and leadership capacity.

Mrs Greening visited the University of Suffolk and Suffolk New College in Ipswich to meet with representatives from the Ipswich Opportunity Area Partnership Board.

Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College, Education Secretary Justine Greening, and Roger Fern, chair of governors at Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College, Education Secretary Justine Greening, and Roger Fern, chair of governors at Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Speaking to this newspaper, she said: “I have met the partnership board and I think it is in really good shape. I am looking forward to them finishing it, which will be very shortly, and publishing it.

“I think it is going to be a really important way that people in Ipswich can get a sense of our priorities, but also just how many different stakeholders, whether it’s businesses, charities, the public – how everyone can work with schools, colleges and the university to really improve education outcomes and make sure there are opportunities on the doorstep for young people.

“One of the messages that I think comes through really loud and clear, which I think is very good for this local area, is actually a lot of young people love being here and they want to stay here. They just want the opportunities on their doorstep and that’s precisely what we’re hoping to achieve in this action plan.”

Education Secretary Justine Greening chatting to students at Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Education Secretary Justine Greening chatting to students at Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

This is a golden opportunity to improve social mobility of town’s children.

Education Secretary Justine Greening visiting Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Education Secretary Justine Greening visiting Suffolk New College. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The partnership boards consist of school leaders, business owners, council leaders, and other partners.

University of Suffolk’s vice-chancellor Richard Lister said: “The university is strongly supportive of the Government’s efforts to improve social mobility.

“We are already working right across the region to improve the life chances of school pupils and students of all ages and I was pleased to be able to brief the Secretary of State of the significant progress being made.”

Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College, said: “It was a great opportunity for us to showcase some of the fantastic work that we are doing.”

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