The Youth Council of North Yorkshire joined officers, county councillors and a group of young performers to launch the new three-year plan for children, young people and their families last Saturday.
Up to 15,000 children and young people across North Yorkshire have informed the development of the plan – which is called ‘Young and Yorkshire’. There have been a range of consultations and over 1,000 postcards sent directly by children and young people to Pete Dwyer, the director of children and young people’s services, telling him what they think about growing up in North Yorkshire along with their hopes and dreams.
In a foreword to the plan Will Hudson and Grace Snowden of Bilsdale and Carlton and Faceby primary schools write:
“We, the children of North Yorkshire would like you to make sure that we are: healthy, sporty, happy, clean, eco-friendly, awesome friends…given our say, to be heard, to be supported, to have our place in the crowd and to be loved.”
As a result the authority has set out three key priorities through to 2017:
- Ensuring that education is our greatest liberator’ with all children and young people attending good or outstanding schools by 2017 (at present 76 per cent attend a good or outstanding primary and secondary school and 90 per cent a good or outstanding early years setting. A local Commission for School Improvement has already recommended strong school-to-school collaborations to raise the quality of teaching and learning
- Helping all children enjoy a happy family life’, with a safe reduction in the numbers of children in care. The county council aims to provide services and support at the earliest opportunity to families, children and young people who need extra help so that emerging problems can be controlled and do not escalate further.
- More children and young people to lead healthy lifestyles’ by tackling rising levels of obesity; poor diet; road safety to reduce road traffic accidents; continuing to operate zero tolerance of hate crime, harassment and bullying; providing targeted multi-agency support to those pockets of the county with higher levels of ill-health, often associated with poverty.
Pete Dwyer said: Our priorities are based on clear evidence about what is needed and what works, and – crucially – are driven by what children and young people themselves have told us.
We recognise that although most of them already experience a fantastic upbringing in this very special county, that is not necessarily the case for every single one of them. We will not rest until we can confidently say that all North Yorkshire children’s life chances are in their own hands, rather than being determined by geography or family circumstances.
In challenging financial times, continued Mr Dwyer, it was even more important that the county was “crystal clear” about its priorities for children and young people , and willing to work in partnership across all agencies and sectors.
North Yorkshire’s executive members for the Children and Young People’s Service, Cllr Arthur Barker and Cllr Tony Hall, said it was obvious when talking to young people that they were very proud to live in North Yorkshire: Our children and young people achieve some of the best educational outcomes in the country and continue in their tens of thousands to contribute to the world in a myriad of ways.
Their job as councillors, they have said in their foreword to the plan, is to champion the achievements of children young people as well as fight their corners and ensure excellence, efficiency and effectiveness of the county’s services. The purpose of the plan, they wrote is to make sure “that North Yorkshire really is one of the greatest places in which to grow up.