NEWS: Andy Street announces £2.4m careers advisor fund during mayoral election campaign visit to Stockland Green School

Words and on location pics by Erdington Local

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street chose Stockland Green School to make his first major policy announcement of his election campaign.

Mr Street visited the Slade Road secondary on the first day of his official campaigning for the mayoral election to announce if re-elected on 2 May the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will pay for 40 careers advisers for schools in some of the region’s most challenged areas.

The plan has been costed at £2.4m with funding already identified by the WMCA.

Mr Street announced the policy at Stockland Green School due to its successful careers programme, which was launched after the legacy of lockdown saw work experience plummet and face-to-face careers sessions with pupils drastically decline.

Mr Street told Erdington Local: “This school has been praised by Ofsted for its commitment to careers advice, but sadly across the West Midlands the same not can be said for all schools.

“There are still too many young people who are not getting the right opportunities and guidance during the critical years when they are deciding what to do for work.”

He added: “30 per cent of our children have not had work experience; one in six have never had face-to-face careers advice. And as usual it’s the schools in the most challenged areas which have these problems.”

Mr Street, who credits his economics teacher as the catalyst for his journey into the business world – which saw him run the department store giant John Lewis from 2007 to 2016, before entering politics – is concerned youngsters will turn elsewhere for crucial advice if denied access to careers experts.

He continued: “In a world where youngsters are getting their career advice from people like Andrew Tate on social media, having trusted local grown-ups in schools is more important than ever.

“I spoke to children in this school today and they all had a spark, a passion, and an idea what excited them concerning jobs – and for children like these, they need help to give them advice about how to get to where they want be and fulfil their aspirations.”

As announced today, if Mr Street is re-elected as West Midlands Mayor schools which score high on the pupil poverty indicators will be able to apply to the WMCA for funds to employ a dedicated careers officer.

Stockland Green School, which is part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, was praised last year by Ofsted for the “tenacious” approach of staff in driving up student aspiration.

Assistant headteacher, Katerina Lee, is also responsible for the careers advice in the school. She said: “The pandemic caused so many problems with work experience, and with careers advisors not meeting pupils we wanted to do something about it.

“We work with local companies to get our pupils the routes to the jobs and careers they want. However, it is hard. And it would be wonderful to have a full time careers advisor… in fact we could do with lots, their work is so important.”

She added: “It is not like in previous years, where pupils would be given a pathway to industries which would open their doors for work experience and then a job offer would be at the end of it.

“We have to work hard identifying the needs of pupils, like our SEN (special educational needs) children, it is very important to identify their needs very early on.”

Headteacher Rebecca Goode began working at Stockland Green School 16 years ago before getting the top job in 2022.

She said: “Our pupils enjoyed telling Mr Street their aspirations and what they want to do when they enter the job market. Giving them access to careers advice is a really important part of making that happen.”

Mr Street, who won the previous two West Midlands mayoral elections, promised to keep the region’s youngsters and children at the top of his agenda. He believes improving their economic prospects is key in both their success and that of the wider West Midlands.

He added: “This is one of those areas where we just haven’t had the budget, powers, and responsibility to sort this until now. But I will get a grip of career education if I’m re-elected in May.

The West Midlands Mayoral election is being held on Thursday, 2 May. Candidates include the incumbent Conservative candidate Mr Street, Labour’s Richard Parker, Reform UK’s Elaine Williams, and Sunny Virk for the Liberal Democrats.

For more on Andy Street visit www.andystreet.org.uk

For more on the West Midlands Combined Authority visit www.wmca.org.uk

Click here to learn more about the West Midlands Mayoral elections on 2 May.

BACK TO SCHOOL: ‘Ambitious’ Stockland Green School impresses Ofsted inspectors with ‘tenacious’ approach to safeguarding

Words & pics supplied by Stockland Green School

Staff and students at Stockland Green are celebrating after inspectors praised the school as a place where “leaders care deeply about pupils’ well-being”.

Ofsted inspectors, who visited the site in Slade Road, Erdington, on 14-15 February, confirmed that Stockland Green School remains a ‘good’ school, and praised it for its “family approach”.

They also praised safeguarding and wellbeing measures at the school, which is part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership.

Head of School Rebecca Goode said: “We were delighted with this Ofsted report, as we really saw the inspection as an opportunity to showcase our school, to show the inspectors the very best of our team and our students, and help them understand the journey we are on as a school.

“The report talks about us as a ‘family’, and how we really care for our children and about our safeguarding work being ‘tenacious’ – because we are very driven as a team to ensure that our children get the very best in all aspects of education.

“However, it’s not just about grades and results – it’s about ensuring that we give the very best to our young people.

“We always want to ensure that the children have the belief to be whatever they want to be, and that ultimately they become fully rounded citizens who are going to contribute positively to the community.”

According to the Ofsted report, pupils at Stockland Green are happy, and say that they feel safe.

It said: “This is because leaders care deeply about pupils’ well-being and they make sure that staff know pupils well.

“When bullying occurs, pupils say that teachers help resolve the issue quickly and make sure that it does not happen again. Leaders have ensured that the school’s values of ‘aspire, believe and achieve’ are shared by all staff. This has created an environment where there are high expectations about how and what pupils will learn.”

Inspectors said the school’s leaders actively promote pupils’ wider personal development.

It said: “Well-being weeks linked to lessons provide a range of valuable experiences that help make learning real. Most pupils take part in extra-curricular clubs or activities.”

The school was also praised for creating an ambitious curriculum for all pupils, including those with Special Educational Needs.

It said: “Teachers have secure subject knowledge, and they know their pupils well. They create purposeful learning environments for all pupils, including those with SEND. Teachers also use a range of routines to help pupils learn.”

On safeguarding, the report said staff were motivated to prioritise wellbeing.

It said: “Staff morale is high, and they are proud of the role they play in pupils’ education. Leaders make sure that safeguarding is of the highest priority for staff.

“They provide regular training and updates. Staff are vigilant, and quick to report any concerns they have. Leaders are tenacious, and they follow up all concerns raised.”

Headteacher Marie George said: “I’m delighted for Mrs Goode, her team, the students and the community that Stockland Green has been recognised in this way.

“It’s a great achievement, especially when you consider the impacts of the pandemic, which were compounded in our own community, around Stockland Green.

“The school’s response has been to make sure that our children have a safe place to come to, that they are loved and cared for, and get an ambitious curriculum, which was also recognised by the inspectors.

“By taking that caring, ambitious approach, we give our children real life chances, to ensure that they are equipped to go on and meet the demands of the world around them.”

For more on Stockland Green School visit www.stockgrn.bham.sch.uk

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