KCC Cabinet Member for Education and Skills update
13 July 2021
An update from Councillor Shellina Prendergast, KCC Cabinet Member for Education and Skills on Pupil Premium Funding and the post-16 landscape.
I am writing to introduce my self as the new Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, having taken up this important post in May of this year. As an experienced elected Member I know the many challenges of Kent well, particularly those posed by Covid and I so want to thank you for your continued commitment and work over what has been the most challenging of years. I am very proud that Kent is investing £10m in the post Covid Reconnect programme which launches this summer and thank you to those of you that have contributed to making it a success
In my role I want to ensure the council works to support children and young people, whatever their background or ability, to do their best and good schools are critical to achieving this ambition. You will be aware I recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, to raise concerns about Pupil Premium Funding and the Government’s support for catch up.
As it plays a critical role in laying the foundations for educational achievement, Early Years is a particular interest of mine and I am well aware of the detrimental impact of current levels of funding on providers and the risks this raises with regard to the impact on quality of the provision.
Another area I am keeping a careful eye on is the post-16 landscape following the publication of the Skills for Jobs White Paper. Whilst there is much which is positive in the Paper, I understand that one of the early findings of the 16 to 19 review (currently being undertaken) is concern about qualification reform included in the White Paper, to withdraw other vocational or technical qualifications when T Levels are introduced. This concern has also been voiced articulately at the County’s Employment Task Force by the Chairman of the Kent Association of Headteachers, Alan Brookes.
If enacted in its current form I recognise that this will have a significant impact on sixth forms in Kent, many of which offer a range of BTECs alongside A Levels and other qualifications. I recognise it is important that we continue to have a range of qualifications on offer for young people and I will be ensuring Kent headteachers’ views are represented as the White Paper makes its way through the stages in the process of becoming legislation.
I am very much looking forward to working with you over the coming months in ensuring our shared ambitions to give children and young people in Kent the quality of education and opportunities that they deserve. In the meantime, I wish you all a restful summer break.
Councillor Shellina Prendergast
Cabinet Member for Education and Skills