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Life Chances Commission Launched At Datum

March 30, 2017

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham joined Datum for the launch of the Life Chances Commission.

He backed calls to ensure Bury becomes the first borough in the country to achieve 100% literacy levels for children and the development of a coding college.

The report, written by Times journalist and Tony Blair’s former speech writer Phil Collins was commissioned by Bury Council led by council leader Cllr Rishi Shori and launched at Datum.

Life Chances

Andy Burnham, MP said: “Bury is ahead of the game on the life chances agenda. It will feed into our work across Greater Manchester and I can’t think of a better place to launch this report.”

The Labour MP is hoping to become the mayor of Greater Manchester and has vowed to embrace the report and work to develop life chances for children.

The report highlighted 25 recommendations designed to improve the life chances of Bury residents and boost the borough’s economy and prosperity.

They included proposals for Council action, in partnership with local schools, colleges, businesses, the soon-to-be-elected Mayor for Greater Manchester and Government, included:

  • 100% literacy – There is a tiny minority of children whose learning difficulties mean they will never be able to read properly. Aside from that small group there is no reason why every child in Bury should not reach fictional literacy at the ages of seven and 11. Bury should set itself the target of being the first borough in the country which reaches 100% literacy.
  • Coding College – This new college should be in the area of high-skill manufacturing. This would refer to Bury’s industrial heritage whilst also updating it. One option would be for a college dedicated to coding, to make coding a specialism of the town. Or Bolton University should make expertise in digital industries a major part of what it offers to local students.

Author Phil Collins is passionate about improving life chances for young people in Bury. He was born in the town and his family still reside in the area.


He said: “The purpose of the approach is not to tell people how they should live or what they should be interested in, although clearly the economic future of the town sets limits on the work that will be available.

“The purpose of the life chances approach is to equip people with the skills required to live a good life of their own choosing.”

Datum CEO Rory O’Rourke was hailed as a Bury success story. He choose Bury as the base for the Datum Group which now boasts more than 110 employees in six locations around the world.

O’Rourke, said: “We were delighted to host the launch of Life Chances and delighted that author Phil Collins and Andy Burnham MP could attend.

“The report highlights recommendations designed to improve the life chances for young people to ensure we have the skills required to build a better future for Britain.

“The desire to achieve 100% literacy should be the least we should expect whilst the development of a Coding College is an excellent opportunity to establish Bury as an area of high-skill manufacturing, building on Bury’s industrial heritage.

“We are very proud of our Bury roots and determined to play a role in the further development of Greater Manchester and the concept of developing the Northern Powerhouse.”