A year in education: Councillor Suzy Horton looks back on 2022

Cllr Suzy Horton looks back at 2022

Every year, we look back at the education landscape in the city with Councillor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council. In this year's edition, Suzy shares her standout moments as she reflects on the last 12 months in the city. 

Teach Portsmouth is a Portsmouth City Council initiative to support the recruitment of teachers, support teams and leaders for the city's schools and academies. We work closely with councillors on different campaigns and events to raise the profile of what we do. Councillor Suzy Horton took time out to talk to us about her hopes for the year ahead.

What was your favourite moment in education from 2022?

I have many moments from the last year but two that standout for me include a flash mob outside Southsea Library and the Holiday and Food (HAF) Pompey programme. The flash mob outside Southsea Library was an amazing example of partnership working. Pupils from Redwood Park Academy, Mary Rose Academy and City of Portsmouth College danced to celebrate the opening of The Café Collective inside the library.

A flash mob performance captured on film outside Southsea Library to celebrate the opening of the The Café Collective.
(Source: The News) 

It was lovely to see such an important facility open to increase employability in the area for children and young people.

The Holiday and Food Programme (HAF) has also been a welcome initiative to support families in the city. Through government funding, we have been able to extend the programme. I visited Arundel Court School who were supporting pupils through sporting activities in the playground. They also took part in cooking lessons where pupils shared their creations online through social media. Our work to ensure inclusivity is embedded as part of the scheme - it's even been highlighted by the Department for Education. 

Last year, we spoke about the effects of COVID and how this had impacted pupils in the classroom. With the cost of living ever present, how has this impacted education so far, from your perspective?

The effects of COVID are still present as we deal with the fallout from this time. We're doing everything we can to support families, to ensure children are able to progress and catch up in school but the cost of living crisis is clearly going to impact on some families more than others; no one can learn effectively if they are cold and hungry.

Schools are doing an amazing job to compensate for this, as they did during the pandemic and are working closely with the council to ensure that we can collectively do all we can to help. Yet again, the last year has shown the important role schools play in our communities and the work they do to support families in different ways is crucial.

This year, Teach Portsmouth have introduced a series of information events to support the recruitment of teaching assistants in the classroom. What would you say to someone interested in becoming a teaching assistant?

I was not surprised by how inquisitive people are about wanting to learn more about the profession. People want a rewarding and fulfilling career that makes a difference. Becoming a teaching assistant can offer that, supporting children and young people in the classroom. It's such a rewarding role - one that is full of variety. If you are interested in finding out more about support roles, I would recommend attending the next event on 28 February 2023.

The Teach Portsmouth Awards will return next year on 29 June 2023. We'll be recognising even more groups of people, including governors and early years practitioners. How important is it to recognise different groups of people within education settings?

It is so important to recognise the breadth of roles in education across the city; we're one big education family in Portsmouth - so it's fantastic we can come altogether to celebrate people's achievements. Everyone who works in 'education' will tell you how much they value other colleagues, working together to support children and young people.

Left to right - Awards host Shappi Khorsandi with winner of outstanding contribution award, Katie Holness and Cllr Suzy Horton who presented the award on behalf of Kier
A child's education starts from the day they are born and most of them go through early years settings, school and college. The Teach Portsmouth Awards allow us to acknowledge the journey children take and the professionals that help shape it along the way, in the classroom and behind the scenes.

What are your hopes for education next year?

My hope is we will have more stability after the last few years but build on the good work that has gone on during this time. I want to embrace the role schools have played after we discovered new ways of working together during the pandemic. It's not only about lessons or outcomes for pupils, it's the role schools play in the wider development of children and their community, whether that's holding a school concert or organising a school trip; these are valued by parents and pupils alike.

Do you have a special message for Portsmouth's teachers, support teams and headteachers?

I would like to thank everyone for their ongoing work to support children, young people and families across the city. I would like to thank those who have welcomed me into their schools and classrooms, invited me to concerts, prize-giving, careers and eco events. It has been a pleasure to bump into many of you in person this year. I wish all our teachers, support teams and head teachers a restful and happy Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all in the new year.

Looking ahead to 2023

With exciting events planned for the new year, we can't wait to share our plans with you. Be the first to hear about them by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

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