Education secretary visits Lancashire

Gavin Williamson, the government's education secretary, visited BAE Systems to discuss apprenticeships and made a trip to Blackpool to learn about what the town is doing to improve opportunities for children and young people. 

The Blackpool aspect of his fact-finding mission centred around the Opportunity Area programme, which has invested more than £7m in developing Essential Life Skills and early speech and language within the town.

The programme provides support for vulnerable young people and families to improve attendance and reduce exclusions from school. It is also improving advice and support for young people when moving between schools/colleges and into work.

The secretary of state's tour began with St George’s School Blackpool, which provides extra support for early and mid-career teachers to focus on literacy as well as a range of needs from speech language and communication to emotional and mental wellbeing.

He then visited Blackpool and The Fylde College, a key partner along with St Georges School in the delivery of the Blackpool Careers Journey, a joined-up offer of support for all children and young people in the town to help them prepare for work.  

Gavin Williamson said: “It was fantastic to get back to Blackpool to see how we are raising the bar for young people living here, by investing in excellent teachers and improving education standards in key skills like literacy.

It was fantastic to get back to Blackpool to see how we are raising the bar for young people living here

“Every child, in every part of the country, should have a fair chance – that’s why we are levelling up funding to make sure all schools can deliver a high quality education.

“We have also have recently announced an extra £18m to extend the Opportunity Area programme, helping to cement the great work already being done to help Blackpool’s young people reach their full potential.”

Graham Cowley, chair of the Blackpool Opportunity Area Partnership Board, said: “Blackpool welcomes the visit by the secretary of state to review our Opportunity Area activities. All our partner organisations are proud to be collaborating to improve life chances for all our young people, supporting them to access the world of work and to thrive within it.

“Continuing government support for the Opportunity Area programme inspires confidence in partners to continue to drive towards longer-term aspirations for our community.”

The minister also met Year 10 pupils from Shuttleworth College, a secondary school in Padiham, at BAE Systems Academy for Skills & Knowledge near Preston.

He heard from school pupils and BAE Systems apprentices about their experiences of careers education, and heard from the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), The Careers & Enterprise Company and local employer partner BAE Systems about how they are working with schools and colleges to create partnerships that respond to local labour market needs.

Shuttleworth College is the lead school in the ‘Lancashire Careers Hub’. Launched in 2018, the Careers Hub brings together 30 schools and colleges across Burnley, Pendle and Blackpool to transform careers education for Young People.

The Hub is funded by the government-backed Careers & Enterprise Company and overseen by the Lancashire LEP. Last October, the Lancashire Hub and delivery partner Inspira won the national award for the Careers Hub of the Year in the annual Careers Excellence Awards.

Steve Fogg, chairman of the Lancashire LEP and managing director of BAE Systems Shared Services, said: "Schools and colleges offer high standards of careers provision across the board in Lancashire and the Enterprise Adviser Network and the Careers Hub have helped achieve that, working collaboratively with business.

"Through this kind of excellent careers provision, we are improving the job prospects of young people and creating the pipeline of talent that local businesses need to thrive.

"This help promotes inclusive growth and maximises social mobility to the benefit of the local community as a whole in Lancashire.”

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