Gaps in classroom attainment between poorer pupils and their peers in the South West are the largest of all English regions Credit: pixabay

Steve Darling: We need whole community to support Torbay's young people

Jim Parker

It is great to see that spring has well and truly sprung and that we are all able to go out and enjoy warmer and drier weather outside.

It has been wonderful to see Torbay coming alive over the recent bank holiday weekends.

As well as enjoying the sunshine, I have been reflecting on the work of local outreach services and how we can break down social barriers to ensure our children and young people reach their full potential.

I was invited to speak at Exeter University following the publication of the Southwest Social Mobility Report which highlights the urgent need for levelling up in the region – particularly when it comes to achieving educational outcomes for disadvantaged young people.

I shared our ideas on how we are focused on creating a child friendly Torbay by tackling inequalities, reducing levels of deprivation, and ensuring young people have high aspirations and access to good-quality employment opportunities.

Some parents are fortunate enough to be able to afford to pay for life-enriching activities such as gold Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions to Spain, whereas others struggle to pay for a pair of walking boots so that their youngster can participate in the Ten Tors challenge.

We all need to play a role in helping our most disadvantaged young people grow in confidence by offering those inspiring opportunities and experiences.

By ensuring all young people have the best start in life we can start to break down those social barriers and help them reach their full potential as they move towards adult life and work.

Torbay has the country’s fourth largest attainment gap at age 16-19. Nationally, disadvantaged students attain on average three A-level grades lower than other students. In Torbay, the average gap is 4.4 A-level grades.

Locally, we do have sectors that offer high-quality employment opportunities.

We need to build self-confidence in all of our young people so that those careers are available to them and there is education and training to support their future aspirations.

It is one of those well-worn phrases to say that it takes a village to raise a child but, indeed, we need the whole community of Torbay to come together under child friendly Torbay to support our young people.

This year, Rowcroft Hospice celebrates 40 years of providing specialist care to South Devon communities.

Every single one of us will have heard about their work or experienced first-hand the difference what they do makes to people with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

Last week it was a pleasure to attend their 40th birthday party on a glorious May morning.

I could not help but reflect upon and appreciate the support given to a family member.

For more than a year he was supported by their hospice at home team alongside specialist services and other care workers as they looked after him where he lived.

With their help, Colin was able to peacefully pass away in the familiar surroundings of his home, fulfilling a clear wish of his.

Last Friday, I and Cabinet colleagues had a fascinating trip to the MVV Waste and Energy Plant in Plymouth.

Based at Devonport, the facility deals with waste from Torbay, Plymouth, and Devon.

Using a process known as Energy from Waste (EfW), the waste that is not recycled or composted is treated as a resource, which saves on valuable fossil ones and reduces carbon dioxide output.

Electricity and heat generated at the plant is mostly used in Devonport naval base which I was surprised to learn is the biggest single consumer of electricity in the UK.

The plant prevents around 200,000 tonnes of household waste from going to landfill every year.

However, despite the environmental benefits of the EfW process, it does not mean we can become complacent about our efforts to recycle more.

We must not forget that recycling reduces our need for new raw materials.

Building A Greater Torbay