Gifted and Talented Grant Scheme - Update (Agenda Item 7)
To receive an update and clarification of handling procedures from the Strategic Director – Services.
The Sustainable Communities Manager presented this report.
He said that of the £10,000 set aside to support gifted and talented people in Breckland during the current Financial Year, each applicant could apply for a grant of up to £500 to help meet the extra expenses incurred by higher achievers as they progressed upwards in their field. Such a sum could be a real lifeline for some young people, helping them to meet their aspirations and potential.
Most of the nine successful applicants thus far were under 15 years old and there had also been an award to an adult disabled carriage driver who competed at international level. He pointed out that the imbalance of eight sports awards to only one arts award had been largely due to the fact that there had been a significant period during this year when the Council had been without an Arts Officer. However this imbalance should be redressed over the coming months as the new Arts Officer (Sam Dawson) was now in post.
The Sustainable Communities Manager confirmed that there was £5,500 left in the pot and there were at least three applications currently being processed. More applications were to be expected over the coming months, not least as a result of forthcoming promotions and publicity in Breckland Voice, as well as through the Pride in Breckland scheme, which aimed to celebrate local achievements.
He felt that this scheme had been a real success and one which the Council could be proud of. A further £10,000 had been put aside for this project under the Match Funding scheme for the next Financial Year.
A Member queried the status of a particular application and stressed the importance of Members, particularly Ward Members, being kept informed of the progress of any such applications.
The Sustainable Communities Manager said that he had checked the records and it appeared that whilst paperwork had been sent out to the young golfer in question, thus far no application had been received. However, he undertook to ensure that another set of application papers were issued. He stressed that all Gifted and Talented awards were made entirely on the basis of the necessary criteria being met: at no point did an applicant’s background affect any decision.
The Chairman, whilst accepting the need to take care about publicity whenever children were concerned, agreed that it would be useful for Members to know as a point of interest how the awards were distributed between towns and villages. He also agreed that Members, especially Ward Members, should be kept in touch with the progress of applications, subject to the agreement of their parents/guardians where appropriate.
There was concern at the disparity of awards between sports and arts, and the fact that the criteria for the former were so much easier to determine.
The Sustainable Communities Manager said that the new Arts Officer had re-examined the arts criteria and it was consequently expected that more awards would be made in this area over the coming months. He also explained that the Council’s legal team had been consulted about levels of publicity with regard to children, and it was felt that where they were to be competing at county or country level, then a certain amount of publicity was not only acceptable but possibly welcome as part of the process, albeit it would need to be handled sensitively.
He proposed that Members should receive an update on the progress made by each of the current successful grant applicants in a year’s time.
The Chairman concurred, expressing his thanks and congratulations to the team: it was very important for the Council to be seen to be supporting youth and cultural needs within the District. If the pilot were judged to have been a real success, then this should be taken forward to the Executive at a later stage in order to ensure ongoing funding (not least as there could well be some serious sports potential in the District for the 2012 Olympic Games).
Finally, there was brief discussion about the importance of publicity (as mentioned above), bearing in mind the need to achieve a balance between raising levels of expectation against the hard fact that there would only be £10,000 available for sports and arts development grants next year.
RESOLVED that the report be noted.