Mon. May 16th, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Cabinet Connection – Cllr Debbie Andre – Cabinet member for children’s services, education and lifelong skills

2 min read

It’s been nearly a year since I was appointed by our leader, Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox, as cabinet member for children’s services, education and lifelong skills.

During that time, I’ve had to make some important decisions that will inevitably impact upon our children, young people and families. It’s therefore vital that they are at the heart of the decision-making process. Being a strong advocate for our children and young people is paramount, but this doesn’t mean speaking for them; more importantly, it is giving them a voice and making sure that their voice is heard and listened to.

To this end, I was recently invited to the Youth Council where I met both our former and recently elected Youth MPs, Isaac Lethbridge and Oliver McClean respectively. I have known Isaac for some years and was incredibly proud to hear that he has had an offer from Oxford University. He’s been an inspiration over his two-year term and was instrumental in Oliver deciding to stand for election. Oliver has already taken up the challenge with great enthusiasm and I know that he will make an effective and valued contribution as our Youth MP.

We know that the effects of the pandemic and the hike in energy prices are going to hit everyone hard this winter, but especially families. We’ve been looking at a range of measures to help alleviate child poverty, including the launch of the first Island community pantry in East Cowes. The ‘lifelong skills’ part of my brief sometimes seems to be ‘tagged on the end’, but the offer of a wide range of adult community learning courses can make a real difference in enabling adults to gain qualifications that can lead to employment or help with literacy and numeracy so that they can support their children’s learning.

I recently saw the ongoing major refurbishment project at the Bay CE secondary site. I’m grateful to my team for their hard work in securing funding from the DfE to provide the modern, state of the art facilities that our teachers and pupils deserve, to ‘Believe, Inspire and Excel’, not just for now, but for years to come.