For many children and young people the start of the new school term means a big change in their lives, such as moving from primary to secondary school. This transition can often be a stressful time for children, even when they feel well prepared by their primary school and well supported at home.
Some children are carrying an extra burden, which can affect their school life, their friendships and their ability to reach their potential. These children are young carers, whose daily routine means juggling schoolwork with essential care for a family member at home. This can be a cause of great worry to a child.
In Stockport we have very good services for young carers, through the valuable work of Signpost Young Carers. Signpost works alongside primary and secondary schools, providing a package of support which enables these children to take part in school activities and have the same opportunities as their classmates. Indeed, Signpost support means that they are able to get a break from their caring responsibilities and enjoy their childhood.
Although many of our schools are great at identifying and supporting young carers, and indeed several schools have achieved the national Young Carers in Schools Award – not all schools are on board in Stockport. Across the region services are patchy.
I would like to see more schools looking out for young carers and encouraging them to be proud of themselves. I recently wrote to the Children’s Minister about how the Department for Education or Ofsted could help. I then held a meeting with Ofsted and the Signpost team, to see whether schools are being asked about their provision for young carers when they are inspected. The role of Ofsted is to see how well children are benefitting from their education, looking at how they are progressing and fulfilling their potential.
The Children’s Minister says that Ofsted inspectors pay particular attention to the outcomes of a number of groups, including young carers. However, Ofsted told me that young carers “as a group” were not listed in the handbook used by inspectors. This is rather puzzling, and I am hoping for more clarification at a meeting with the Minister this month. Ofsted is reviewing its whole inspection framework, and I believe this is a good opportunity to make sure young carers are not left out.
Ann Coffey MP recently visited WFEL, a Defence Engineering that specialises in building portable military bridges.
Ann had the opportunity to meet with WFEL’s new Managing Director, Ian Anderton, who updated her on the latest developments, including the company’s current order book, and future plans.
During a tour of the defence manufacturing facilities, Ms Coffey was introduced to some of WFEL’s workforce involved in the manufacture of both the Dry Support Bridge and the Medium Girder Bridge. A large number of WFEL’s manufacturing staff are very long-standing employees, with key engineering skills, many having served their Apprenticeships with the company.
Ann Coffey said “It’s always a pleasure to visit WFEL, one of the major employers in Stockport and a company with such a rich and unique manufacturing heritage. I have been encouraged to hear about the company’s further progress and the contribution it is making to the local economy, with a number of recent export orders to military organisations in countries such as Australia and the U.S.A.”
Ian Anderton added, “It has been a pleasure to meet Ann and to welcome her again to WFEL. Today has been a good opportunity to showcase the recent investments in our latest manufacturing technologies and demonstrate some of the technology transfers we have recently undertaken. WFEL continues to be a high profile employer in the Stockport area and our staff are proud of their contribution to the Defence industry worldwide.”