GREGG Mockridge, headteacher welcomed the parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Education to West Somerset.

Following a tour of Old Cleeve school, Baroness Barran experienced a visit to the Trust’s offsite provision.

The APEX Centre delivers bespoke offsite activities and education as well as therapeutic support.

The Minister was ‘blown away’ by the opportunities at the centre, including meeting the ponies and seeing the forest school in action.

Somerset County Gazette:

The Baroness also met with local delegates from other schools and the Opportunity Area team to discuss moving forward, post-pandemic, in West Somerset.

Representatives from The Moorland Federation and West Somerset Academies Trust, along with colleagues from West Somerset College, described their approach to joined-up thinking as educators but also what the government may consider going forward after the recent publication of the White Paper.

Baroness Barran offered reassurance that whilst the Opportunity Area project was coming to an end “support for West Somerset will continue through the Department for Education’s new Education Investment Areas, targeted to help children from all backgrounds fulfil their potential.”

Mr Mockridge said: “I am very grateful to Baroness Barran for taking the time to visit some of our schools in West Somerset and learn first-hand of the impact that the pandemic has had on staff and pupils in our area.

“It has been wonderful for our students at the APEX and West Somerset College to meet a Minister and feel they’ve had a voice today too.”