Essex Education Task Force


February 23rd, 2022

Today marks the formal launch in Chelmsford of the 'Essex Year of Reading 2022'. To coincide with the launch, the Task Force welcomes the first of three commissioned reports from the Education Policy Institute.

Education Policy Institute report to Essex Education Task Force

The report sets out the challenges for schools and the wider society to close the learning gaps which have widened for many children over the past two years. Reading is a golden key.

Essex County Council has been investing significantly in children and young people in recent years, and the report details many successes alongside the challenges which remain.

Roy Blatchford, Chair, Essex Education Task Force

February 21st, 2022

News Release

Essex on the right track to close the disadvantage gap for pupils in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

Research undertaken by the Education Policy Institute highlights key areas of focus for Essex County Council, as progress continues to be made to close the disadvantage gap for pupils across the county.

A new report has been published which tracks progress towards closing the disadvantage gap for Essex pupils whose education has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Essex Education Task Force (EETF) recently commissioned the Education Policy Institute (EPI) to look at trends around the disadvantage gap across early years, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 4 and 16-19-year olds in Essex.

They found that while attainment in Essex is broadly in line with the national average and there are in fact fewer disadvantaged pupils in the county than nationally, the extent of disadvantage is consistently wider across all areas, except early years.

This is something ECC's education service and the Essex Education Task Force (EETF) are already addressing and EPI's report follows an earlier publication: 'Addressing Educational Disadvantage in schools and colleges: The Essex Way'.

This outlines exactly what action is already being taken to reduce disadvantage and promote positive outcomes for all children and young people in Essex.

The EETF was established last year to minimise the impact of the pandemic on all children and young people as quickly as possible, using and sharing innovation and best practice across the education system in Essex.

As part of this, it was announced in summer last year that £1million would be invested into the Essex Year of Reading 2022, to help to reverse the effects of the pandemic and ensure that every child in Essex leaves school able to read at their age level or better.

Being able to read well is key to children and young people – specifically those who are classed as more disadvantaged than their peers – being able to unlock further educational opportunities, learn new skills and go onto thrive later in life.

ECC also recently launched its new Early Years and Childcare strategy, which outlines the high aspirations and goals we have for every young child living in Essex and how we will ensure they get the best possible start in life.

Cllr Tony Ball, ECC Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability, said: "We welcome the report and the chance to work with the Education Policy Institute to consider this important area in a new light. The evidence presented demonstrates that the areas we are already addressing in Essex to reduce the disadvantage gap are the right ones.

"We are making great progress but we also know there are areas where we can do things differently to improve how we support children and young people. I look forward to continuing our work and delivering on our commitment to ensure every child and young person can reach their full potential."

Roy Blatchford, Chair of the Essex Education Task Force, said: "At the heart of the work of the Task Force lies renewal, equality and an ambition to support every young person whose education has been affected by the pandemic, to thrive.

"EPI's report highlights that there is still work to be done to close the disadvantage gap in Essex, but we are on the right track and making positive progress against our aims."

Bobbie Mills, Senior Researcher at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: "We are pleased to be able to shine a light on the educational outcomes of disadvantaged pupils in Essex through our analysis. Our new research findings will enable the County Council and its Education Taskforce to pinpoint areas of improvement and build on plans to support pupils following the pandemic."

The full EPI report is available here which includes the full results, methodology and breakdown by area.

I CAN: Speaking Up for the Covid Generation

It is no surprise that children's development has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. They have lost months of being in school and nursery and daily chances to interact with the outside world. But now we are seeing the true impact this has had.

Speaking Up for the Covid Generation paints a worrying picture for nearly 1.5 million children struggling to be able to speak and understand what other people are saying to them. This should be a wake-up call to Government and the education sector. It is now vital that emergency support is put in place so that the Covid generation do not suffer long-term, lasting damage.

Speaking Up for the Covid Generation

A round up of the press coverage from the Education Task Force investment plan press release June 28th to July 2nd, 2021

EADT: Essex pupils to benefit from £1.5m education recovery investment

Saffron Walden Reporter: Essex education to get a £1.5 million boost

BBC Essex: Sadie Nine (news bulletin followed by interview starts at 7mins and 56 seconds).

Colchester Gazette - p2, Friday July 2nd, 2021.
Article headline £1m to make up for lost reading time - Colchester Gazette p2, Friday 2 July 2021.

Essex Education Task Force unveils plan for education renewal

July 1st, 2021
The task force will invest £1million to ensure that every child in Essex leaves school able to read at their age level or better. Read the full press release on the web site

Research and Evaluation

The Education Policy Institute will be evaluating the impact of the Task Force's work over the coming three years: The Education Policy Institute

The Education Policy Institute is an independent, impartial and evidence-based research institute that aims to promote high quality education outcomes for all children and young people, regardless of social background.

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