September – the month of back to school, college or university. Young men and women will be dealing with the results of their exams and taking their next steps accordingly.
In Hastings and Rye our schools made progress, some more than others. Our sixth forms did well which is particularly encouraging. Sussex Coast College achieved a 100% pass rate across 14 subjects and experienced a 7% increase in the number of higher grades achieved by students. At Ark William Parker and Helenswood Academies there was particular success in Maths with 91% of students achieving the top grades.
Getting education right is at the core of giving opportunities to all our young people. It is incredibly important to me. That is why I have fought for additional funds for our schools which we are receiving though the Opportunity Area. This means we are one of twelve areas in the country with access to a £72 million fund designed to improve educational facilities. I am always welcoming Education Ministers to Hastings to show them both our success and our need. The Secretary of State visited on the 17th May, and I am welcoming the Minister Nick Gibb later in the year to visit our schools. Many people are quick to remind me of the challenges of Hastings with its areas of low income and high unemployment. To them I would say that is exactly why I am ensuring that we are at the top of the agenda when additional support is allocated. I will always be a strong voice for our community.
Our young people are often criticised for spending too much time on their electronic devices but I was again impressed this year by the work of the National Citizenship Service (https://www.ncsyes.co.uk) and their work with some fantastic young people in Hastings. Once more they ran a 4 week course, covering an away week, trips to local universities and a local fund raising initiative. This summer’s group started their own charity called “Breadcrumbs”. They crowdfunded the money and used it to build care boxes for young people less fortunate than them.
When I met them, I could see that the experience had had a real impact and they are continuing with their charity, putting together boxes to help young people short of funds with their back to school kit. What a great example of local help for local people. A big thank you to NCS for their inspiring work harnessing the enthusiasm and compassion of our young people!
We also have plenty of exciting local events as we start the new term with Hastings Week and the bonfire night on the 13th October and Rye Arts Festival taking place later this month until the 30th September. Don’t miss out!