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Ipswich schools get share of £1.2m pot to teach cooking, gardening and woodwork

PUBLISHED: 07:30 19 May 2019

Cooking skills are among those being offered to Ipswich schoolchildren through the Essential Life Skills programme. PIcture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

Cooking skills are among those being offered to Ipswich schoolchildren through the Essential Life Skills programme. PIcture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

Catherine Yeulet

Pupils in Ipswich will be taught life skills such as cooking, gardening and bicycle maintenance under a new project.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for education said it gave children a 'can do' attitude. Picture: SCC/SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHYGordon Jones, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for education said it gave children a 'can do' attitude. Picture: SCC/SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY

The Department for Education has awarded £1.2million to Suffolk County Council, which is delivering 49 programmes across Ipswich schools.

The Essential Life Skills programme uses informal sessions to teach youngsters gardening, woodwork, cooking and bicycle maintenance among other things.

It comes as part of cash offered through the Ipswich Opportunity Area - a designation given to the town by central government with the aim of boosting attendance and attainment for youngsters across all its schools.

Conservative cabinet member for education, Gordon Jones, said: "This Essential Life Skills programme is already proving a great success.

Labour's Jack Abbott welcomed the investment. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLabour's Jack Abbott welcomed the investment. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"It is about halfway through delivery and schools are already seeing the positive impact on their students, whether it be their behaviour in the classroom has improved, their school attendance has improved, or their overall confidence has increased.

"The aim of the Essential Life Skills Programme is to equip students with skills which they can use in their everyday life take into adulthood and to give them a 'can do' attitude."

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Alongside the main sessions, two providers are also running workshops for youngsters with poor attendance, to help inspire them in their learning.

The sessions use a mix practical, social and emotional skills, according to education chiefs, delivered through school trips, lunch and after school clubs.

An estimated 2,500 pupils will benefit from the scheme, which runs until the end of the summer term this year, with over 1,200 hours of teaching being given.

Labour education spokesman Jack Abbott said: "I absolutely welcome any additional investment into our education system, particularly given the huge financial pressures our schools are under after years of real-terms funding cuts.

"There are also signs the Ipswich Opportunity Area schools are working much more closely with each other and this can only be a good thing.

"However, a few questions remain. What does success look like and how will it be measured? How can we ensure this programme is coherent, effective and creates a deep-rooted, long-lasting legacy? Are individual schools best placed to commission or should this be delivered centrally by the children's services department?

"Crucially, it has to be young people themselves who develop and lead these strategies.

"If this is to work they must be front and centre - it is their voices that need to be heard."

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