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Archbishop Launches Fairness Commission

The Archbishop of York, Ruth Redfern (Chair of the Fairness Commission) and Councillor James Alexander at the Launch

Wednesday 13th July 2011

The Archbishop today launched a new Fairness Commission with Leader of City of York Council James Alexander, and the Chair of the newly founded Commission Ruth Redfern, at York High School.

The Fairness Commission is an independent advisory body which will examine matters of social justice in York. The Commission will prepare a report which will help inform the City of York Council on issues of fairness in preparation of the Council’s spending priorities review for 2012-2014.


Text from the Archbishop's speech at the launch of the Fairness Commission follows....


"I’m delighted that York High School has welcomed us here for the launch of this Fairness Commission, because York High is a school which knows about the need for the support and encouragement in testing times.


This is a school which had to cope with the great disruption of a major fire at its premises, and has had to readjust to working on a single site. It’s a school which has above-average numbers of students eligible for free school meals; a quarter of the students have learning difficulties, and an above-average proportion have a statement of special educational need.  The level of social and economic disadvantage in the area is above average.


So, it is to the great credit of the staff, governors and students that while there is still much to do, the last Ofsted Inspection indicated that students are making good progress, often better than expected. The staff and managers have an ambitious vision for the school, for which I just want to congratulate them.

At the moment they have got a tour to Tanzania, because they are linked with a school in East Africa – and I am told the group landed there a little while ago after 24 hours of travel! One of the girls sent a message back to say: “A girl without education is like a girl without perfume. A girl without education is like a car without a motor engine.” She really got it right.


This school are committed to the students’ welfare and determined to continue providing the kind of opportunities which will help them develop into confident and able adults who can make a real contribution to their communities.


That’s why I am particularly pleased we are launching the Fairness Commission here. It is communities like this one that we had in mind when setting up a Commission to ensure fairness and social justice for all our fellow citizens.  What is good for the children at St Peter’s or Archbishop Holgate’s school, or another school, it has to be good for every child in this school too.


What we want is for our students to achieve EE grades - like Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts – ‘Exceeding Expectation’ – in every area of life. Our aim is to give everyone a voice and an opportunity to engage with how this city responds to the challenges facing us.


And that is why the Fairness Commission has a three-pronged approach - Well-being, Access, and Work. Our vision is to ensure the wellbeing of each person in the community; to provide access to services and support, and to make the provision of work a priority. It would be a wonderful place where Well-being, Access, and Work was there for everybody.


In Africa we have a saying: ‘It takes the whole village to educate a child’. So it must take the whole York City Council area, both to educate our children, and to bring out the best in every citizen of this great city.


That means that we are all responsible.  Businesses, schools, industry, all organisations, as well as individual citizens – we need to work in partnership so that no-one is left out. So we are hoping for people to dream up dreams – what are the best ways for the Council to use the resources that it’s got? As citizens, in our own way can add values to all those resources so that Well-being, Access and Work is available.


Why do I say this? We must sink or swim together – that is the meaning of the word “partnership” – and I, for one, would prefer to swim.  It is better to stand together than to hang separately.


So, Well-being, Access and Work are the buzz words of this Commission. This is why although “Wow” is spelt “W-O-W” and ours is “W-A-W” it is still the WAW factor! (And it can still be pronounced as “Wow”, depending on which part of York you come from!)


We are hoping this Fairness Commission will deliver to the area of York City Council, and that is why I am pleased to sponsor it today. The WAW factor is on it’s way, so don’t be left behind."

For more information on the Fairness Commission and its work, please click here.

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