Justine Greening: Young people must have opportunity to 'go as far as their talents and hard work will take them'

Education Secretary Justine Greening MP.
Education Secretary Justine Greening MP.
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HAVING grown up in Yorkshire, I know just how much talent there is in this fantastic county. From its industrial heritage to the highly successful and growing Tour de Yorkshire, there is a great deal to be proud of here.

To continue to build on this legacy, we have to invest in Yorkshire’s future. For me, both as Education Secretary and as someone who went through the state school system in Yorkshire, that means investing in the next generation, whatever their background or who they are.

It is my priority to make sure young people can go as far as their talents and hard work will take them, and to make sure they can be the best version of themselves. But the Government needs to do that in partnership with brilliant teachers, social workers and community leaders.

In some parts of Yorkshire, like many other parts of the country, young people can’t see opportunities on their doorstep – or, if they do, they don’t end up benefitting from them. It could be that they feel unable to get the crucial work experience in the career they aspire to, or that the course they would love to do just isn’t available in their community.

I want to make sure more young people get the opportunity to achieve their ambitions, no matter where they live. That’s why I named Bradford, Doncaster and the North Yorkshire Coast as three of 12 Opportunity Areas across the country which are getting a share of £72m so young people in their community are supported to realise their ambitions, whatever they are.

This week we published plans setting out how we will achieve this on the North Yorkshire Coast. A great deal of investment and work has already taken place in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey. The university technical college and university campus are fantastic new facilities, and organisations like Scarborough Business Ambassadors are helping show young people the exciting careers already on offer in their area.

The Opportunity Areas plan published this week set out four priorities to build on this work. It begins with providing great early years education so children get the best start in life and are ready for school. That will mean helping nurseries and other providers on the North Yorkshire Coast to develop children’s speech and language skills, as well as working with disadvantaged families who can help keep their children learning at home as well as at school.

The plan also sets out two further ambitions: to give young people the skills they need to succeed in adulthood by improving their maths and their literacy. To achieve the first, a maths centre will be established in the area, linked to the Yorkshire Ridings maths hub, to train teachers in world-class maths teaching, using experience of what we know works. For the second, a literacy campaign in local schools will nurture young people’s love of reading.

Finally, we want to raise school standards across the North Yorkshire Coast so that more children are attending good or outstanding schools. The aim is to create 2,000 more good school places and get all secondary schools in the area rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, supported by the expertise of a teaching school, to help train local teachers to be at their best.

This is vital, as we know great teachers have the biggest impact on helping young people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – to reach their full potential.

Working together from the earliest stages of a child’s education, through to inspiring experiences in the workplace with local businesses, we will broaden the horizons of young people living on the North Yorkshire Coast and help them meet their career aspirations.

This plan will create the opportunities young people need to unlock their talents and potential, because where you are from should not be a barrier to fulfilling your ambitions, it should be the springboard to your future.

I am delighted see these plans get under way and I’ll play my role in making sure the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area gets the progress and results that young people deserve.

Justine Greening is the Education Secretary.