Child care & pre-school provision in Ayre & Michael are vital for families with working parents and we are fortunate in having facilities in Andreas, Jurby, Kirk Michael and Sulby. I will support measures to make child care more affordable and ensure that parents continue to have access to high quality services as close to home as possible. We also need to secure sustainable funding for the Island’s mobile library service, which is an excellent resource for Ayre & Michael.
Our primary schools also play an important role in village life. I will scrutinise the Education Bill when it returns to the Keys, to see that it supports them in providing an excellent grounding for our children going on to secondary school. Plans to change the management structure within Education should be reviewed to ensure that they are cost effective and deliver meaningful change.
The last year has been particularly difficult for our secondary school students, with significant disruption to their GCSE and A-level courses and assessment. On-line learning is no substitute for face-to-face teaching and the quality of this provision was too variable. Students must be offered additional support, where required, to make sure that they don’t lose out when exams return to business as usual next summer.
Improved provision for pupils with special educational needs is urgently required, with assessment matched by funding to re-move the frustration experienced by so many parents.
Our University College in Douglas will need to develop courses for people to gain the skills required for meeting climate change measures. Apprenticeships and skills development should be offered to people throughout their working lives. Flexible learning is key to keeping the Island’s economy growing. More academic options should be offered to encourage students to obtain their higher education on the Island.
All Island residents should he entitled to up to 5 years free training at Apprentice / HE level, to be taken at any point in their lives. Better grant provision, based on academic performance, should be available to those who do choose to take up courses in the UK and elsewhere.
Our children will deliver the future prosperity of the Island. Investing in their education is one of the best things that we can do as a community.