The more that I think about the problems that we face, big or small, the more that I believe that collaboration is the answer. Get, say, five very different people in a room and you get not only five different brains, but also the different perspectives, knowledge, connections, energy and resources that they all have access to.
An example for me is the issue of protecting our environment in Surrey whilst providing reasonably priced homes for our young people. I am very keen to see both achieved and believe that the focus should be on “win-win.” This can only be done by getting a range of people together to look at these issues. I am therefore very pleased to have been invited to represent young people in Surrey on the Surrey Nature Partnership Board (SyNP) and I attended my first meeting last week. SyNP has a strategic remit for “sustainable land management use, supporting the economy and promoting health and wellbeing” and works in conjunction with the Local Economic Partnerships. It is very much seeking to work with different groups, including developers, to achieve win-win outcomes for the environment and the economy.
Collaboration was the key solution listed for another social problem this week – ensuring all children learn to read well by age 11. Thanks to Beccy Bowden at Satro for passing me an interesting report entitled “Reading England’s future: Mapping how well the poorest children read.” This is available on the Save the Children Website.
In some areas, many children have already fallen behind with the groundwork needed for literacy by the time they go to school. In other areas, they enter school with a reasonable level, but then fall behind. Surprisingly to me, children from low-income families in smaller towns and rural areas are particularly likely to fall behind in reading. Cities are doing okay – in fact London is top performer in the country. London’s success was previously thought to be due to improvements at secondary school level, but this study has shown that it is London’s primary schools that are making the difference.
The conclusion of the report was that we need local action - “schools, parents, early years services and the wider community to unite and to own the goal of all children reading well.” There couldn’t be a more perfect cue for me to mention again that Communilab will be our online forum enabling online collaboration to solve issues facing young people in Surrey. We will be launching in the new year. I am very excited, we have a lot of people and organisations interested in the project from a wide variety of areas – businesses, Surrey County Council, universities, third sector organisations, schools and colleges, health organisations, local councils. Our main Sponsor is Barclays and we also have Community Champions including Penningtons Manches, Surrey County Council, Pfizer and Exxon Mobil. I believe that it will make a significant difference to young people in Surrey. If you want to be kept informed click here.