w tuThe meeting which took place on Wednesday with Lord Nash, Education Minister has been hailed as a breakthrough by the Island’s MP Andrew Turner, who organised it, and the two newly elected councillors who attended on behalf of the two largest groups on the Council.
The Councillors who attended the meeting were Richard Priest representing the group of Independent Councillors and Chris Whitehouse representing the Conservative Group.
Mr Turner said: “It was a very positive meeting. Lord Nash was clearly impressed that the two newly elected Councillors were so knowledgeable about the issues that need to be addressed and had such a positive commitment to work together for the good of Island youngsters and schools. All differences must be put aside to help those schools in difficulties improve the standard of education they provide – it is far too important not to!
“The Minister has given us all some food for thought about the way forward and a list of things to do – and Richard and Chris will be discussing this with their respective groups over the next few days. In my view this is the most pressing issue facing the new Council. The meeting had been organised for some time so I was very pleased to have been able to provide such an early opportunity for the two largest groups elected last week to demonstrate their shared commitment to help our schools deliver better results.”
Cllr Richard Priest added: ‘The meeting with Lord Nash, Andrew Turner MP, Cllr Whitehouse and myself, within days of the election of a new Council, reflects an immediate cross-chamber commitment to address the consequences of School re-organisation on the Island. It is also a reflection of our intention to work positively with our MP and other partner agencies in the best interests of Students, Parents and Staff, demonstrating that there is a different way of working which puts the needs of the Island community above Party politics’.
The new Secretary of the Conservative Group, Cllr. Chris Whitehouse, commented: “The need to drive up standards in Island schools is clear and urgent. It is far too important an issue with which to play petty party politics. Every member of the Island Conservative Group will be working hard to find practical solutions to the problems that remain. We will both challenge and support the new administration in this area of work. With five schools in and around my Newport West Ward this will be my highest priority as a Councillor in the interests of our local children and the children of the whole Island. For decades, the Island has had a disappointing history of low educational aspiration and under achievement. Working together we can and must break that cycle.”