Council's education lead not seeking re-election

Councillor Evelyn Carpenter at the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the opening of Arden House

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter has represented Becontree ward for 16 years - Credit: Arnaud Stephenson

One of Barking and Dagenham's most senior councillors has announced she will not be standing at May's elections.

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter has been the cabinet member in charge of the education portfolio since 2014.

She hailed what she called "a massive improvement" in the borough's schools in that time.

Last week, Barking and Dagenham was revealed to have the highest percentage in London (81.69 per cent) for offering first preference secondary school places for 2022.

The cabinet member for educational attainment and school improvement was also proud of the 95pc figure for the number of schools in the borough rated good or outstanding by education regulator Ofsted.

Cllr Carpenter told the Post that among her other highlights as cabinet member was "the inclusive ethos of borough schools".

She said: "Most offer places for children with special education needs and disabilities so they can benefit from a mainstream school experience as well as receive additional support tailored to their needs."

The Becontree councillor also hailed partnership work between schools and the likes of council services and police.

She cited the Lost Hours campaign, which launched in August 2020.

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It called on parents to take more responsibility and know where their children are, with its name derived from the ‘lost’ period between 3pm and 7pm where young people finish school and parents return from work.

Cllr Carpenter has also represented Becontree for 16 years and said: "It has been a privilege to be a councillor and I’ve learnt a great deal.

"I’ve enjoyed supporting other councillors over the years and hopefully inspired others, particularly women, to stand for election."

Her future plans involve seeing more of her family and friends, as well as "enjoying my beautiful garden".

But she said she plans to continue as a governor for Eastbrook School, Elutec Academy and Barking and Dagenham College.

"Being a councillor and a cabinet member is a 24/7 commitment so I’ve built in a transition period to help me adjust to my new life."

An Assembly meeting on March 2 also heard from Eastbury ward councillor Foyzur Rahman, who said he was not seeking re-election in May.