Essex Education Task Force

The Essex Education Task Force: work continues apace

Task Force

The Essex Education Task Force: work continues apace

The Essex Education Task Force: 2021 - 2023

Roy Blatchford, Chair of the Essex Education Task Force, reflects on achievements to date and looks forward into 2023.

As we enter 2023 it is worth reflecting on what the Task Force has achieved over the past two years. And Essex does nothing by halves!

It is just two years since political and executive leaders in Essex first hatched the idea of the Task Force. Memories can be short, but December 2020 and January 2021 were months of lost learning in schools and families deeply concerned for one another's health and well-being. The global pandemic was still very active on these shores.

The Task Force was established with voices from various sectors: voluntary, pre-school, schools, governors, further education, local authority, business, councillors. Working under an overall umbrella of Renewal, Equality and Ambition, those voices came together with two key aims:
  1. To minimise the impact of the pandemic on all children and young people as quickly as possible, with a three to five-year overview of phases of regeneration

  2. To capture and promote current innovation and best practice across the education system in Essex.
With an initial budget of £1.5 million, the Task Force has invested across all areas of Essex in teenage mental health; outdoor and residential education; support for students moving from school to colleges; training programmes in reading and early language development for tutors and teachers; support for school leaders' and governors' well-being.

And combining our two key aims above the Task Force launched an Essex Year of Reading, bringing together a wide range of providers across the county with the unashamed ambition to promote the fun of reading in homes and communities, and to ensure that all Essex children and young people develop as confident readers.

Elsewhere on this website and here are detailed the wonderful array of events, projects, exhibitions, performances and community ventures that have taken place in 2022. Cllr Tony Ball has said that 'every year should be a year of reading'. Taking him at his word, and given the momentum that has been established, we are now extending the Year of Reading into 2023.

So that's a great way to launch 2023 - and the Task Force will continue the investments mentioned above and monitor their impact. The Education Policy Institute (EPI) is helping with this; their recent report on Pupil Wellbeing can be read here.

And there is more! It has been the Task Force's happy experience to date that Essex does nothing by halves. Launch a good idea and so many people want to contribute unselfishly and with great enthusiasm.

And we have also noticed that where Essex leads, other counties are following...

Essex Year of Reading: Projects, Successes and Legacy

What have we been up to in 2022?

Renewal          Equality          Ambition
Renewal    Equality    Ambition

Building on the success of the Task Force* launch meeting held in May 2021, five further meetings have taken place. From the initial £1.5 million, investments to date are:

AND: Every Essex child a confident reader
Roy Blatchford CBE, Independent Chair of the Task Force, said: "What has been achieved in just six months has been a tribute to colleagues from the voluntary sector, schools, further education, pre-school, governing bodies and Essex's politicians. The drive to ensure every child in Essex is a confident reader has been tremendous - and leads in well to the Essex Year of Reading 2022. Watch this space!"

* Members of the Task Force: Roy Blatchford, Chair; Clare Kershaw, ECC's Director of Education; Cllr Tony Ball, ECC Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Skills and Training; Anita Kemp, ECC's Head of Strategy Planning and Performance; Martin Solder, Voluntary/Youth Sector; Jen Grotier, Special Schools; Jo Nice, Early Years; Harriet Phelps-Knight, Primary Schools; Carole Herman, Secondary Schools; Dan Pearson, Further Education Colleges; Ian Fisher, Task Force Administrator.

May 2021

The first meeting of the new Essex Education Task Force took place recently, marking the start of ambitious plans to address the short- and long-term impact of Covid-19 on children and young people's education and emotional wellbeing.

The Task Force, which is independently chaired by Roy Blatchford CBE, was first announced at Essex County Council's (ECC) Full Council meeting in February. It will initially be supported by a £1.5million investment from the county council's reserves, of which £500,000 will be allocated specifically for children's mental health.

Roy Blatchford has extensive experience of the education sector, having previously served as one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools (HMI) in England, with national responsibilities for school improvement and for the inspection of outstanding schools.

The group also includes members from ECC, Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Special Schools, Further Education and the Voluntary and Youth sectors.*

Their aims are to champion equity, inclusion and excellence for all, building upon what school colleagues have already set in motion for pupils who have been affected by the loss of learning and missed opportunities due to the pandemic.

This includes addressing key areas such as language development, mental health and wellbeing, the loss of extra-curricular activities, the 'digital divide', post-16 and post-18 education, training and employment, as well as support for vulnerable children and young people and those with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). Reading will also have a special focus.

In addition, the group will seek to influence and shape national education policy for the benefit of Essex.

Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council's Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Skills and Training, said: "After an incredibly difficult year for children, young people and the education sector across Essex, the first meeting of the Task Force is an important turning point and we are looking ahead to the future with hope and optimism.

"We have always been clear that a high-quality education is the right of every child and young person. Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has not changed. We will continue to support every pupil to thrive and help education colleagues to enable to them to do so.

"We are not only seeking to support the sector on a local level, but also to effect change at a national level and to help develop and shape new ways of working for the benefit of children and young people across Essex.

"I look forward to seeing our ambitious plans evolve into positive outcomes over the coming months and years."

Roy Blatchford CBE, Independent Chair of the Essex Education Task Force, said: "It was clear in our first meeting that there is a strong and collective desire across education partners in Essex to address and minimise the impact of the pandemic on all children and young people as quickly as possible.

"Our aim is to ensure that no child or young person in Essex is left behind or disadvantaged due to the pandemic and that the opportunities available to them are not limited because of the events of the past year.

"In addition, we want to seize opportunities to capture and promote innovation and best practice across the education system in Essex. We want the county to be at the forefront of shaping education policy and achieving bright futures for all pupils."

Essex Education Task Force - Education Policy Institute reports

22nd February 2023
Social Mobility & Vulnerable Learners Report
Essex Year of Reading 2022-23: Reading skills, outcomes and interventions - A review of the evidence
The Education Policy Institute was commissioned by the Essex County Council Education Task Force to review the evidence around reading skills, related outcomes and interventions. The Task Force is an independent body created to oversee post-Covid recovery in education and young people's mental health in Essex; a major focus of the Task Force has been launching the Essex Year of Reading 2022-23.
EPI website for this report

27th October 2022
Children and young people's mental health Report
Pupil Wellbeing in Essex
Commissioned by the Essex Education Task Force, this report investigates pupil wellbeing using the results of the first round of a short wellbeing survey that took place in May 2022. The survey, based on the Good Childhood Index, developed by the Children's Society, asks pupils a series of questions about how they feel about various aspects of their life, such as their school, home, and friends.
EPI website for this report

21st February 2022
Social Mobility & Vulnerable Learners Report
EPI local authority analysis: Report for Essex Education Task Force
This is the first Education Policy Institute (EPI) report to Essex County Council's Education Task Force, an independent body created to oversee post-Covid recovery in education and young people's mental health in Essex.
EPI website for this report

Contact Us Privacy & cookies

© Essex Education Task Force 2024
Accessibility statement