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Ipswich Opportunity Area plan to transform education is ambitious but necessary

20 January, 2018 - 12:00
Nadhim Zahawi, a minister in the Department for Education, said it was not acceptable that Ipswich youngsters could not fulfill their potential. Picture: DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION/LEE GODDARD

Nadhim Zahawi, a minister in the Department for Education, said it was not acceptable that Ipswich youngsters could not fulfill their potential. Picture: DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION/LEE GODDARD

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Nadhim Zahawi, minister in the Department for Education says the Ipswich Opportunity Area plan will give young people in the town to be the best version of themselves.

One of Britain’s oldest towns, home to the painter Thomas Gainsborough and immortalised in Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, Ipswich has played its part in Britain’s cultural history.

Today, Ipswich is a growing and thriving commercial centre that offers real opportunities for young people growing up here.

At the same time, we need to do more to help some of Ipswich’s most disadvantaged children overcome a difficult start in life and fulfil their true potential.

Right now these children are some of the lowest achieving in the country – and that’s not acceptable.

I am delighted to have taken up my role as Education Minister at the Department for Education, and to be able to drive forward the progress this government has already made on raising standards in schools.

Pupils in England are now ranked among the world’s best readers, and there are 1.9 million more children now going to a good or outstanding school than in 2010 – but there is much more that can be done to make sure these opportunities are mirrored for young people in Ipswich.

That’s why it was chosen as one of 12 Opportunity Areas across the country, which will receive a share of £72 million to make sure that young people in their community can reach their true potential.

And we have published a new plan for Ipswich that sets out detailed proposals to raise education standards and increase opportunities for young people.

It’s the right thing to do for young people in Ipswich who all deserve a chance to be the very best version of themselves.

I myself know only too well how the opportunities you experience early on in life play an important role in shaping the direction you take later on. Your background shouldn’t dictate the opportunities you have access to and none of us should expect any less of our young people because of where they come from.

So the Opportunity Area plan for Ipswich is ambitious.

It builds on the measures set out in the Government’s social mobility action plan, published in December, which called on teachers, employers, and communities to help give every young person the keys to unlocking his or her potential and a chance to be their best.

The first priority of the plan will help parents develop the knowledge and tools to support children to learn at home and help to schools and parents work together more closely.

By developing programmes for parents, carers and families we hope to give them the right tools to play a leading role in their children’s education.

School leaders have told us of the difficulties recruiting and retaining staff in the area so our second priority is to attract excellent teachers to the town.

Despite Ipswich’s literary history, too many pupils here are not getting a strong foundation in key skills.

To improve this, our third priority will explore new and exciting ways to improve English and maths teaching through the launch of £25,000 grants.

Some of the poorest areas in Ipswich record the highest levels of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET).

The fourth priority of our plan is to ensure young people get the best guidance possible about their options after school so they can choose the right career for them.

This needs to start early and it is our ambition that every child leaves school inspired by the world of work.

We will also work with three partner organisations – the Careers & Enterprise Company, the National Citizen Service and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – to give young people the opportunities they need to succeed in the world of work.

I am delighted to see this work get underway and I’ll play my role in making sure this Opportunity Area delivers the results young people deserve.

Where you are from should not be a barrier to fulfilling your ambitions, it should be the springboard to your future.

I want to urge everyone to read and engage with the plan for Ipswich; I think there’s a real opportunity to make a new universal offer on opportunity to young people here.

Working together, we can create more opportunities for future generations to come.”


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