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Give all children a ‘fair’ chance says Conservatives in call to action to Fairness Commission

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The Conservative Group has called on Brighton and Hove Fairness Commission to tackle the root of most of the issues around poverty and inequality in the city – the inequalities of educational and training opportunities for our children and young people, in a letter submitted to the Fairness Commission this week.

Highlighting the gap in achievement between children who are eligible for free school meals and those who aren’t, the Conservative Group stressed the need to eliminate this by looking at schemes and policies across the country, describing the gap in achievement at Key Stage 4 as being “depressingly wide”. Their letter states “31% fewer children eligible for free school meals achieve 5 A*-C grades including English & Maths at GCSE than their more advantaged counterparts” and calls for further investigation into possible solutions.

The Conservative Group has also called for the Commission to review outcomes for ethic minority children and children for whom English is their second language.

Other issues covered in the Conservative Group’s submission letter include further work to address the needs of minority groups and long-term unemployed; a review of paid and voluntary training schemes, support for improved mental health in the city; and an assessment of the Council’s ongoing reorganisation of youth services with regard to minority groups.

Importantly, in addition to opportunities for children and young people, the Conservative Group has asked that the Commission does not forget the needs of our older generation, referring to a report by the ‘Campaign to End Loneliness’ calling for loneliness to be considered a public health issue. To this end the Conservative Group has called on the Commission to ensure that older people have adequate access to council, external or voluntary services.

Leader of the Conservative Group, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald commented “Although there are many important issues to cover in ensuring Brighton and Hove gives equal opportunity to all its residents, we have mainly focussed our submission to the Commission around children and young adults. This is because we firmly believe in the importance of building aspiration in children and giving them opportunities to achieve regardless of their personal circumstances and background – which only serves to improve society in the future. To this end, we wish the Commission well in their work and look forward to updates on their progress.”

The letter has been submitted to the Fairness Commission who will use the evidence gathered to make recommendations to the council and its partners to increase opportunities for the city’s residents in a report expected in summer 2016. The findings will also inform the council’s budgets with an aim to ensure that resources are being used to tackle inequality.