Setting young people up for success in Redbridge

Published: 27 Apr 2023

Last Monday I had the privilege of officially opening the new sensory playground at Loxford. The new play facility has been developed by the Council, with the support of Loxford School, and will be used by children at the preschool during the day and by families after school and during the weekends. The new playground is part of our bigger commitment to giving local children and our young people the best possible start in life in Redbridge.

Sensory playground equipment

It has been designed to boost the development of children under five years old, and has been built with the needs of children with special educational needs at its core. The specialist equipment helps to stimulate children’s senses as they develop, with sensory panels, activities and tasks, as well as a storytelling corner all incorporated into the new play area. As well as investing in a brand new sensory playground, we’ve also provided the pre-school with a new dedicated space for them to use which the children are settling into really well, and we’re investing in a new alternative education facility at Loxford Community Centre.

I had a chance to see the refurbishment works for myself last week. They’re breathing a new lease of life into the youth centre and making it more financially sustainable in the longer-term to ensure we can keep it open and running.  

The Constance Bridgeman Learning Centre offers young people the opportunity to engage in music production with its own in-house  recording studio, get involved in games and sports through a range of brand new outdoor facilities, and get young people engaged in food production and cooking through a kitchen garden that students will manage, and by putting their culinary skills to the test with a revamped kitchen. The redevelopment has  given the centre a new and sustainable purpose and it has given young people who are or are at risk of being marginalised a dedicated space in which to learn new and practical skills. By consolidating a number of services in Loxford meaning we have been able to invest in them, and create state of the art facilities for generations of young people.

Playground equipment including white board and seating

94.8% of Redbridge’s schools are rated good or outstanding, and that’s testament to the hardworking and talented teachers, support staff and other education professionals who go above and beyond in supporting, developing and teaching our children and young people. This is against a backdrop of a number of challenges facing the UK’s education sector. Sustained government funding cuts to school budgets, the continued work being done to ensure pupils catch-up on learning following the disruption of the pandemic, and the increasing practical support role that schools and teachers are needing to play as the cost-of-living crisis bites down on local families, are all factors which schools and Redbridge as the local authority are trying to manage. Inflation is having an impact on staff too and wage pressures have resulted in the recent school strikes seen right across the UK.

London schools and local authorities are also facing a rather unique trend with pupil numbers in schools falling, largely as a result of the acute housing crisis. High housing prices and a shortage of rental accommodation is causing families to move out of London. This means that schooling needs are changing and we will have to adapt as this unfolds.

Despite a raft of challenges, education provision in Redbridge continuing to go from strength to strength. We are host to a large number of outstanding schools, giving families across the borough access to the best education available, with Woodbridge High School bucking the national trend and being judged outstanding for the first time. This Thursday, I will be attending the Redbridge Education Awards 2023. This will be a great opportunity to recognise the dedication and hard work of those who support our children and young people to learn, develop, achieve and strive, and an important moment at which to thank the winners and nominees for their incredible work.