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Cllr Chris Whitehouse

School standards will be top of the agenda for the new Conservative-led administration at County Hall, the new Lead Member for Children’s Services has announced.

Speaking in the Council Chamber to members of the Children’s Services Committee and senior officers leading on education and children’s social services on the Island, Councillor Chris Whitehouse (Conservative, Newport West Ward) said:

“I have a vision for the future of Island education and make the following pledges that should a Conservative Administration be elected on 4th May:

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“First, our partnership with Hampshire, appointed by a Conservative Schools Minister to take the lead on our education issues, will continue. It is delivering solid progress in the right direction, but things are far from good enough yet. We will be relentless in driving up standards so that all our children can achieve their full potential.

“Second, we will ensure that every school on the Island will be rated at least “good” by Ofsted, and at least 25% of them will be “outstanding”. Our partners from Hampshire share this commitment.

“Third, we will consult widely and deeply with parents and teachers on a proposal to move from three terms to four. This would allow parents to access some holiday time out of peak season and also improve education outcomes as headteachers tell me that some students slip backwards educationally over the long summer break. But it will be a real consultation. If the overwhelming consensus is to make the move, we’ll make it. If the consensus is for no change, then we’ll leave things as they are.”

Councillor Whitehouse also had a message for the teachers of the Island saying:

“Teaching is a noble and important vocation. Teachers are under-paid, over-worked, under-appreciated and under-valued. This situation should be addressed nationally, and I am happy to work with the professions to encourage government to do more in this area.”

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A new ‘Award for Excellence in Teaching’ could also be on the way to recognise those individual Island teachers who make a real difference to the lives of their students after Brian Pope, the Hampshire officer who leads on school standards for the Island, made the suggestion at the meeting. The proposal for such Awards met with enthusiastic support from councillors present, and councillor Whitehouse undertook to make it happen.

Major forthcoming events to engage Island businesses in providing careers advice to students were also unveiled by Conservative Council Leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, who stressed the importance of working closely with Island employers to ensure that students are aware of the exciting opportunities for training, apprenticeships and careers that do already exist on the Island.

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