The Education Service Standards and Quality Report for 2020/21 was presented at the recent meeting of East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet, providing a detailed insight into the work carried out within our educational establishments and the success achieved by our children and young people.
Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Chief Education Officer and Head of Education, presented the annual report, which sets out progress towards the Council’s goal of achieving excellence and equity for all of our children and young people. In the face of unprecedented circumstances, the Education Service has achieved record figures, including 94.7% of young people securing positive destinations on leaving school and excellent attainment levels with 85% of young people are leaving school with Level 5, or above, qualifications.
Linda McAulay-Griffiths said: “The Standards and Quality report for 2020/21 for the East Ayrshire Education Service demonstrates the resilience, strength and courage shown by our staff, our parents and carers, our communities and our amazing children and young people during these very challenging times. The success that we have achieved is due to strong partnerships that we have built and nurtured and I am very grateful for the support of all agencies who have worked alongside us
“Back in March 2020, at the very start of the pandemic, the Education Service had to transform overnight to provide remote learning. This required a huge effort from the Education Service and IT who ensured staff and learners had the devices and platforms they required for learning and communication. Through the Scottish Government school digital inclusion grant, the Council purchased 2592 devices and 120 wifi units for children and young people throughout East Ayrshire. Access to digital technology has enabled our staff, children and young people and communities to stay connected by working innovatively and sharing best practice.
“The efforts of our children and young people, staff, parents and carers have been exceptional. Albert Einstein once said “Adversity introduces a man to himself” – well, we have faced adversity since March 2020 and I am so proud of who we have shown ourselves to be. Together we have worked hard to protect our children and young people from the worst of the pandemic and they have been enabled, by all of our efforts, to achieve and still reach their full potential.”
The report is divided into key areas of work including Improving Attainment, Closing the Attainment Gap, Improving Health and Wellbeing, Improving Employability and Skills and Digital Transformation.
It highlights the important role that Parent Councils have played throughout the pandemic. They have continued to work in partnership with our schools and Early Childhood Centres, attending key meetings, providing insight and ensuring that our children and young people are supported and nurtured.
Within our communities, Home Link Workers have been working alongside our children and young people and parents and carers providing support to 830 families, while Mentor Development Officers have worked across Loudoun, Grange, The Robert Burns and Kilmarnock Academies building resilience and confidence. This work has helped to reach disengaged young people and has led to a decline in exclusions.
Another important development over the last year has been the development of Skills and Learning 33 (SL33), the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Partnership Hub, which is a purpose built space designed to progress the delivery and implementation of DYW in East Ayrshire. The hub is led by the Education Service and is supported by the Employability Service and partners including the DWP and Skills Development Scotland.
The hub has classrooms and vocational spaces including a hair and beauty space and creative arts and design space, which were designed in consultation with our young people and partners. The specially designed space ensures that the needs of clients of all ages are met and that the hub can provide a refreshed and expanded resource to support young people in the development of employability skills.
Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Lifelong Learning, Education and Skills and Culture said: “The Education Service Standards and Quality Report for 2020/21 shows that we have taken great strides forward in the last year. Opening SL33 has been an incredible achievement for everyone involved in the project. It is a unique facility and we are receiving a lot of interest from authorities across Scotland who want to find out more about this innovative work and the support we provide to our disengaged young people.
“Across all age groups we have been building on our promise to ensure that every child and young person has the opportunity to achieve regardless of circumstances. The school estate has improved significantly thanks to the Council’s 10 year Capital Investment Programme. The Barony Campus, Scotland’s most innovative, ambitious and inclusive learning facilities, opened its doors. Loanhead Primary refurbishment and the new build Early Childhood Centre have been completed and a new modular building at Lainshaw Primary, housing two classrooms has also been completed. There are also significant projects now underway including a new build school for Netherthird and an upgrade and extension of Crosshouse Primary and Communication Centre.
“Since August, all 36 Early Childhood Centres have been in a position to deliver 1140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) to all eligible children. The expansion of ELC provision will improve outcomes for local children. High quality ELC makes a significant contribution to a child's development and to closing the poverty related attainment gap, improving family wellbeing and supporting parents and carers into work, study or training. Something that is particularly important due to the impact of the pandemic.
“Another important development over the last year has been the expansion of the School Counselling Service, which is provided by The Exchange. The service is available to all children and young people over the age of 10 years and between January and June provided support to over 300 children and young people and their families. The response has been wonderful. 90% of those who have participated felt they could manage their problems and feelings better and that they were able to concentrate better on their schoolwork.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our Psychological Services who have supported all of our educational establishments and three Children’s Houses throughout the pandemic providing much needed support to our staff, children and young people.”