Archive for August, 2014

Good news for people in Rugeley as major highways project due to finish

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Last week I announced an important change to our Cabinet which saw Robbie Marshall step down as Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing. I would like to thank Robbie for his work as a Cabinet Member which he has done for the last five years. I know it has been a difficult decision for Robbie who wishes to spend more time on non-political matters. Robbie will continue as the local member for Bilbrook Parish Council and Codsall Parish Council. Joining Cabinet to provide much needed support and leadership around the local health agenda is Michael Greatorex, so a warm welcome to Michael.

We also have some good news for people and businesses in Rugeley with the completion of a major highways project due this week. The £600k project at Horsefair will help to support regeneration and attract visitors and future investment to the town. The work has resulted in a more attractive gateway between the town and station and includes improvements to the road layout, new safer crossings, a new cycle lane, new parking spaces and trees and street furniture to smarten up the area.

Other improvements carried out with Cannock Chase District Council and funded by the Tesco development will also make a real difference to the town.

In other news which I first spoke about at the start of the summer, IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire opened for applications on Tuesday and incredibly – within 15 minutes the event was sold out, making it one of the fastest events to sell out. Organisers also announced the route for the 56 mile bike ride which will link the swim at Chasewater Country Park with the Shugborough Hall Estate, which hosts the run and finish line. The route will take in Kings Bromley, Draycott in the Clay, Blithfield Reservoir, Rugeley and Cannock Chase, giving us a great opportunity to showcase the county.

Well done to all our pupils who got their GCSE results last Thursday, hopefully all the hard work and study will have paid off and I wish them every success in the future, whatever path they choose to take. It is encouraging news that we are broadly in line with the national figure, as our steady GCSE improvement appears to be continuing in line with national trends. Getting the right mix of skills for our young people is important for any future career, and we will continue, along with Entrust to provide good and effective support to our schools.

And finally, another big congratulations to Uttoxeter swimmer Adam Peaty for setting a new world record in the semi-finals with a time of 26.62 seconds and for winning his third gold at the European Championships. His achievement can act as an inspiration to everyone; whether it’s to succeed in their chosen field or to take up an activity for the first time. This will hopefully encourage others to become part of an active Staffordshire.

A good initial response to the library consultation and exciting times for pupils waiting for their exam results

Friday, August 15th, 2014

As you may be aware we launched a consultation into the future of our libraries in July and I’m pleased to report that we’ve now had over a thousand people respond. Furthermore, over 300 people have also attended the first wave of our 47 face-to-face sessions.

Most people are letting us know that they understand that having a library service for the future means change is needed, and it’s pleasing to see so many people are taking an interest in their local libraries and have taken the time to give us their thoughts.

The public meetings include drop-in sessions at each of the county’s 43 libraries, presentations with Q&A sessions and workshops for groups interested in taking over the running of a library. Details of public and online consultation are available in each library and at http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/libraries

I have said before that it is vital we hear from library users and non-users alike, so I would really urge people to get involved and have their say.

It’s always nice to receive a positive mention on national media including the BBC and Radio 4 and we had just that this week with the announcement of our project to research over 20,000 military appeal tribunal records from WWI.

After the war most counties were asked to destroy their records, but for some unknown reason the Staffordshire records managed to survive. This was lucky for us – the information is fascinating and now gives a real insight into why men from the county appealed against being conscripted. We are now looking for volunteers to help us index the records and piece together the stories so people can visit the Archives Offices to learn more about life during that time. If you’re interested in getting involved you can contact the Staffordshire Records Office or visit their website.

It’s going to be both exciting and nervous times for young people who have received their A Level results and next week for those receiving their GCSE results. The main message is not to panic, no matter what the grades, there are careers advisers standing by to help people look at their options and work out what’s best for them. There are a variety of different paths for young people to take, be that university, apprenticeships, training and employment, or college. It is important that young people are aware of all the options available to them so they can make informed choices about their future career

Sticking with education, some more good news for pupils with improvements at Key Stage 2 with increased results in reading, writing and maths. Latest figures show 11 year olds across the county are making marked improvements in the tests and teacher assessments.

Initial results show that over 85 percent of pupils achieved at least the expected level in writing, up from just under 84 percent last year with further improvements in maths.

Our recently-published Learning and Skills Strategy challenges every one of our 400 schools to be rated as ‘good or outstanding’ by Ofsted. We have seen some significant improvements in recent years, but we want to go further and move faster to collectively raise standards even more. We need to ensure that high performance is consistent across all our schools. We’re heading in the right direction and ultimately, we want to ensure that every child in Staffordshire has the opportunity to attend an excellent school, fulfil their potential and be equipped with the skills and knowledge to lead fulfilling lives and rewarding careers.