Life chances to be discussed at special summit

A special summit to discuss how to help disadvantaged children and young people in Wychavon improve their life chances is to be held in the New Year.

Wychavon District Council has decided to call the meeting to bring together a range of organisations to look at how to improve the social mobility of those less well off living in the area.

It follows a report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission that ranked Wychavon 310th out of 324 local authority areas in England for ensuring children from disadvantaged backgrounds do well at school and get a good job.

Among those invited to attend the conference will be Worcestershire County Council, schools and Babcock Prime, responsible for school improvement in the county. Educational attainment was a particular issue of concern in the report with figures show just 13 per cent of Wychavon pupils on Free School Meals achieved the expected level of reading, writing and mathematic skills by age 11. The national average is 39 per cent.

Organisations that have successfully implemented measures to improve social mobility will also be invited to the summit to share their ideas and methods.

Wychavon is already taking steps to tackle the issue through a pilot project in the Droitwich West area, part of which focuses on raising aspirations and life changes. The council’s strategy also contains a number of key district-wide promises around improving skills, apprenticeships, work placements and delivering more affordable housing.

However, the problem is not restricted to one part of the district and councillors are eager to look at what more could be done.

Cllr Linda Robinson, Leader of Wychavon District Council, said: “We want every child growing up in Wychavon to do well at school, find a job and have a decent standard of living. We’re playing our part by focusing on those issues we can directly control like attracting businesses and employment, improving skills and housing.

“However, it is clear improving social mobility will require action from a number of different organisations over a sustained period of time. Bringing those organisations together will help us understand what action is already being taken, what more needs to be done and how that can be achieved.”

A date for the summit has yet to be scheduled but it is likely to be in the spring.