Thursday, 16 December 2021

Visiting Pool Academy

Last week, I visited Pool Academy and met a group of students to discuss some of the key issues concerning them ranging from the environment and climate change to housing issues in Cornwall and economic opportunity for young people. The questions were thoughtful and we had a detailed discussion around some of the challenges facing the local area.  
On climate change, we talked about the progress that had been made at Glasgow and the importance of having hope and optimism rather than a culture of despair.  On housing, there are specific challenges in Cornwall and we talked about the proposals from Cornwall Council to require planning for change of use to a holiday let or maybe a higher council tax for second homes.  And on local opportunities, we talked about the development of a new computer software industry in the area.  In fact, the founder and Managing Director of Bluefruit, one of the leading new businesses in this area, was a former pupil at Pool School and has now set up a world-leading software business here.
Throughout the Pandemic, young people, in particular, have been affected by the lockdown restrictions since the start of the pandemic. The decision to close schools earlier this year did not just have the obvious effects around disruption to exams and teaching.  It is much more profound than that.  Children in both primary schools and secondary have been separated from friends.  Children’s birthday parties can’t happen as they normally would and should.  School sports events are not happening.  We, humans, are social creatures.  Friendships and the company of others are important.  Forming those bonds and friendships is a really important part of growing up, whether it is in the formative early years as children start their first years as infants at primary school, or whether it is in those tricky teenage years as young people wrestle with all the insecurities and concerns that accompany that stage of life.
However, young people are also remarkably resilient and all schools in the area are reporting that, while education has been set back, young people have bounced back quite quickly.  As we see more uncertainty about the threat posed by the new Omicron variant of Covid and Parliament introducing some further measures to try to curtail it this week, let’s hope that we are all able to avoid having to take any further steps.

Stepping Up the Booster Campaign:
In light of the increased threat of the Omicron variant, the Government has decided to enact the ‘Plan B’ measures set out in the summer and designed to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. While the restrictions we are having to consider now and have had to implement on Covid over the past two years have been deeply frustrating and many emergency measures have been draconian and highly illiberal in nature, they have not been done lightly. It is absolutely clear: the vaccine is the UK’s best way out of the Pandemic.
As such, I strongly encourage you all to get your booster vaccine as soon as possible. In line with the Government’s goal of offering everyone a jab by the end of the year, the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group have stepped up the rollout including reopening the mass vaccination site at Stithians Showground and other pop-clinics across Cornwall. Head to their website to find your nearest one as soon as you can. 

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