Caring for children and young people during the pandemic
Over the last year the county council has made a lot of progress with school building programmes, childcare, youth events and more, in spite of the coronavirus. Councillor Philip Owen reviews the last 12 months.
It has been a very difficult twelve months. But now, as we follow the government’s plan for coming out of lockdown, with the vaccination programme and schools and colleges returning to face to face teaching, it feels like we are turning a corner.
A lot has happened over the past year. The way we do things has changed and much has had to be put on hold. But we’ve also achieved a great deal.
In 2020 we finished building two new schools, Newark Orchard School and Rosecliffe Spencer Academy, in Edwalton. We also extended King Edwin Primary School in Edwinstowe, Lady Bay Primary School, in West Bridgford, and a new modular classroom for Lambley Primary School.
We’ve funded the expansion of academies in the county, including Carlton Academy, Carlton le Willows, and Magnus Church of England Academy, as well as projects to meet the needs of children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).
Although it wasn’t possible to run our usual ‘Shadow’ event for young people, a night-time orienteering experience in Sherwood Forest, we put on ‘Shadow Lite’ in October, where teams of young people completed mental, physical and creative challenges. It was such a success that it will be renamed ‘Junior Shadow’ and will now run every year, alongside the usual ‘Shadow’ event.
We bucked the national trend for providing childcare for young children through the pandemic, with Nottinghamshire performing well above average in terms of the number of nurseries, preschools, and other Early Years settings which remained open, or reopened.
Our Best Start Strategy, recently approved for 2021-2025, brings together all key partners and activities focusing on antenatal and postnatal care, children’s development, and support for families with pre-school children for the first time, creating a joined up, holistic service. It builds on the excellent service our early year’s providers offer, 93% of which are rated good or outstanding.
In July last year, the council’s Educational Psychology Service (EPS) was appointed to provide practical guidance to schools across the UK, to help them recover and support children returning to school, after major incidents like the pandemic. At around the same time, we won a national award for the high use of the Mind of My Own app by children and young people in Nottinghamshire.
I’m proud of the way that those who work with children and young people have pulled together in the face of the pandemic, and everything that’s been accomplished.
Councillor Philip Owen, Committee Chairman for Children and Young People's Services at Nottinghamshire County Council