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Weston 2016: a town with an increasingly impressive skill base...

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One of the biggest (and best) changes in Weston’s fortunes over the last few years has been the transformation of our local education. We’ve gone from being a fairly low-skill area where relatively fewer people stayed in education to get extra skills or qualifications, to one with excellent local schools and colleges and a rising skill base.

It isn’t as immediately noticeable as huge building projects like the improvements to Junction 21, or the new Dolphin Square. But even though it doesn’t smack you in the eye, it’s every bit as important for local jobs and growth, because employers know they will be able to find staff with the right skills if they set up shop (or office, or workshop, or logistics centre) in Weston and the villages. It’s a big part of the reason why Weston has been creating more new jobs than most other places in the southwest for several years now.

So last week I was delighted to take part in a small but vital next step in our local education journey, setting up a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) at Priory. If you haven’t heard about MATs yet, you soon will. There are lots of different types but, basically, they allow local schools to band together to support each other by sharing resources and skills. For a fast-growing school like Priory that’s rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ousted, and is already helping to turn around Worle school after their recent problems, it’s an obvious way provide high-quality education to even more pupils in Weston and the villages.

The event itself wasn’t much to shout about really. Just a few of us sitting in a meeting room and agreeing some legal steps. But they mean the MAT is officially underway, and that Weston’s high-skill economic future is a little bit closer today than it was yesterday. Ever forward!