Justine Greening, The Secretary of State for Education, visited North Yorkshire County Council’s children’s services in Scarborough today that have been nationally recognised for their innovation in improving the lives of young people.
The Education Secretary talked to young people and staff at the No Wrong Door centre in Stepney Road about the impact of the service on their lives.
She also visited Scalby School and the Stephen Joseph Theatre that have both played a key role in the County Council’s £750,000 ground-breaking Scarborough Pledge programme to widen horizons and raise aspirations for young people in the town.
Scalby School is playing a lead part in teacher training and development in schools across the town while the theatre is playing a part in enhancing learning in schools by providing access to cultural, arts and heritage experiences.
The Government has recently announced that Scarborough is one of six Education Opportunity Areas across England which together will receive £60m to help local children and young people get the best start in life. This initiative builds on the work already taking place through the Scarborough Pledge.
No Wrong Door, which has been rated outstanding by Ofsted, replaces traditional council-run care homes with hubs which combine residential care with fostering along with on-site support from clinical psychologists who act as life coaches, speech and language therapists and a supportive police role.
The service is proving highly effective in breaking the traditional cycle of young people who enter the care system and who go on to engage in offending and high risk-taking behaviour.
Young people supported by No Wrong Door told the Education Secretary that the service had changed their lives and that they trusted staff to help them out and point them in the right direction whatever their difficulties: “It’s like being part of one big family”, they said.
“Staff here work their socks off to help you out” said Ben Freer, 21, who is now living independently and working as a building labourer. “I still come back to see people, and I help out with decorating and stuff. I still need help in life and there are people I trust here. It has changed me loads. I wouldn’t listen to anybody when I was younger. I was always in trouble.”
Justine Greening said: “I have been impressed by the passion and enthusiasm of the young people, teachers, social work professionals, and employers I have met during my visit and am excited to see what the future holds for the Scarborough Opportunity Area.”
“For Britain to succeed we must be a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow. Education is at the heart of that ambition, and is central to breaking down the barriers to social mobility that too many face in our country today.
“I want to see more disadvantaged young people attending the very best universities, winning places on apprenticeships, entering the top professions, and progressing through the most rewarding careers – and I want employers to do more to draw out the potential and talents of all.
“Having Scarborough as an Opportunity Area will help children get the best start in life, no matter what their background. Ensuring all children can access high-quality education at every stage is critical. We will focus not just on what we can do to help inside schools, but also create the opportunities outside school that will raise sights and broaden horizons for young people.
Last year Sir Martin Narey, former director general of prisons for England and Wales and former chief executive of Barnardos, stated in a report on residential social care that ‘No Wrong Door’ stands out for the ambition, innovation and high expectation in the support it offers to the most troubled and challenging young people and provides a model for other councils to follow.
Indeed North Yorkshire has also become a Partner in Practice for the Department for Education, one of 8 exemplar children’s services which will support and work alongside other authorities to share good practice and develop long-term and sustainable high performance.
“We are very proud to have the Secretary of State in Scarborough” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, “and we hope very much that she has enjoyed her stay, and has gained much from her conversations with the staff and young people who work so hard in some of our most innovative programmes. We are all working together to champion Scarborough, its culture, its families and its young people to build a vibrant future. We wish to thank the Minister for her visit and for listening so carefully to the people she has met.”