Key features of this area of the programme have been projects to improve attainment levels in local schools, raise skills levels in adults, help residents into jobs and support those considering self-employment as a career option.
Kensington Regeneration’s work with local schools has been one of the outstanding successes of its work in the area.
A key feature of the programme has been to improve the facilities available to local people. For example, consultation revealed widespread support for a new secondary school for Kensington - previously local children attended range of schools outside the area.
Kensington Regeneration therefore helped to create the multi-award-winning Academy of St Francis of Assisi, a new £21-million school in Newsham Park which is the only City Academy in the country which has the environment and sustainability as its specialism.
This theme was incorporated into the design of the building which includes a range of high-tech ‘green’ features.
Then Prime Minister Tony Blair was the VIP guest at the official opening of the Academy which has achieved year-on-year improvements in its GCSE grades and SATs results. As a result, the number of students achieving five or more A* to C grades at GCSE level is now 25 per cent higher than in 2002.
Kensington Regeneration also supported the rebuilding of Kensington Infant and Junior School and the creation of the new Field of Dreams Nursery at St Sebastian’s Primary School.
One of the other key aims of Kensington Regeneration’s work with schools has been to give children access to new learning opportunities and experiences. The Music for Life project has been an outstanding example of this aspect of the programme, forging a unique link between the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the area’s five local primary schools. Each school has had its own RLPO musician who has taken a weekly music lesson.
There have also been regular performances at the schools, for local groups and even at the Philharmonic Hall.
Funding from Kensington Regeneration has also helped to provide additional equipment and resources for schools, and to enhance family learning opportunities in the area. Examples have ranged from providing extra laptops and white boards to funding a new parents’ room and outdoor play area.
The success of these and other projects is reflected in the recent achievements of the schools in the area.
For example, all the primaries have recently recorded their best-ever SATs results in one or more subjects and the Academy topped a Government league table as the fastest-improving school in the country at GCSE level. Attendance levels in local schools and post-16 staying-on rates are now better than the Liverpool average. And there have also been some notable successes in terms of Ofsted reports, including St Sebastian’s Primary which has achieved three outstanding reports in a row - a record matched by only 20 schools in the country.
As well as working with schools Kensington Regeneration has also been successful in helping older residents to acquire new skills.
A key base for this work is Kensington Community Learning Centre (KCLC), which was recognised as one of the best centres of its type in the country in the 2008 UK Online Centres Awards. More recently, the centre was honoured as Social Regeneration Project of the Year in the prestigious Regeneration and Renewal Awards. KCLC has developed flexible ways of delivering computer training, as well as courses in literacy, numeracy and social skills. According to the Regeneration and Renewal Awards judges, the centre’s results are ‘exceptional’.
Another acclaimed Kensington Regeneration project has been its bursary scheme which provides financial support to local residents on full-time degree courses in return for their involvement in community projects in the area. Since 2003 more than 100 students have benefited from this scheme, around a third of them from ethnic minorities.
Elsewhere, Kensington Regeneration has provided funding for education and training courses run at community venues like the Life Bank and Kensington Fields Community Centre. The partnership has also supported basic skills training and courses in English for speakers of other languages.
Kensington Regeneration has also worked hard to improve the employability of local people through initiatives to provide residents with job and training advice, work placements and support with accessing specific sectors of the jobs market. Employers have also been encouraged to take on Kensington residents via recruitment subsidies. Over the past two years these measures have helped more than 500 local people to find work.
Key factors in this success have included the work of JET (Jobs, Education & Training) Eastern Link – Kensington Regeneration has funded five full-time JET workers who offer specialist information, advice guidance and counselling to local people in search of jobs or training places.
The Partnership has also worked closely with Liverpool City Council to develop joint job-related projects, particularly in the retail, ICT, sport, health and construction sectors. A Transitional Employment Programme has provided large numbers of residents with 13 weeks of on-the-job training which has often led to a permanent job.
Another Kensington Regeneration project - Jobs Boost - has offered residents a flexible package of support tailored to the individual needs of each jobseeker. This support - which can include contributions to the costs of childcare, training, transport, clothing or special equipment - has helped people move into a wide variety of jobs, from the NHS to crane driving.
A separate initiative called LIFE - the Local Initiative for Employment - has provided residents with 12-month work placements, including help with training and job search and a wage subsidy for employers.
Special programmes have also been developed to equip local people with in-demand skills, for example those that can lead to heavy goods vehicle driving jobs or a career in the railway industry, seafaring or aviation.