On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the NR5 project, which runs out of the North Earlham area and is a supportive inclusion unit for many of the marginalised and excluded pupils from the community. It also doubles up with Future Radio on site, as well as hosting many community events. I was surprised to hear it has to register as an Independent School in order to work alongside Norfolk County Council; given the amazing work it did I am surprised that we cannot make these agreements easier to reach. I was shown around by trustee Gerry Aldous and project manager Dawn Jackson and got to meet the staff and many of the youngsters who use the extended provision; including the "In Harmony" group. Both Gerry & Dawn have a real understanding of what community engagement means and the project is a very impressive piece of both organisation and real grassroots delivery. Typically funding is always an issue - it seems to be with all of these excellent local initiatives - and I hope I was able to help with some advice and thoughts about funding streams in the future.
Inclusive education; and the fate of our youngsters who are, for whatever reason, excluded from our educational system; is of real interest to me. The kids who come here get an education and curriculum that is suited to their needs, almost constant 1:1 support and a chance to engage in positive activites. This support goes on from before school to long after it. I wonder how much we've saved in reduced anti-social behaviour (for example) because of the work that this project does. I'd call it a real spend-to-save initiative!
Our new county team - of Cllrs Hutson & Mackie - ought to visit as soon as they can to see this project in full swing. The NR5 project can be assured of our continued support, especially if I am lucky enough to be the MP for NR5.