England & Wales

The awesome Westminster Council

Cllr Colin Barrow, Leader of Westminster City Council invited me to an interesting event this morning.  A gathering of mainly Westminster public service and community leaders, with a few outsiders like me, including Caroline Spelman.  Colin did a speech and q&a about Westminster’s future plans.   It was exciting to hear about plans for the iconic parts of the Borough that are known all over the world, including Leicester Square and Picaddily Circus – “to be restored to fantastic shopping places”.  But the big interesting announcement, both in terms of what it was, and the manner of it, was around GCSE attainment.    Colin Barrow announced a target to raise attainment of 5 GCSEs at A-C from 50% – 75% of school leavers.   When I asked how they were going to do it he said the thinking is being developed, certainly it would involve changes in the role that the council plays and collaboration with other Boroughs.   What I liked about it was the boldness, the “we will put a man on the moon by the end of this decade” approach.   When President Kennedy made that announcement  I am told that at NASA HQ there was a timeline stretching around the wall of how they would fulfill the President’s vision.  There were practical and known steps on the timeline, but also lots of points along the way where they simply put “breakthrough needed”.     For Westminster to make such a big leap in school leavers educational attainment in “two to three years” lots of breakthroughs will be needed, but in my experience of Westminster Council, they are an awesome bunch and I’d put my money on them doing it.   It would be a remarkable achievement.