Sheffield cabinet for education and skills: '˜Representing the ordinary person is what it should all be about'

'Politics is changing the world and influencing it,' said councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for education and skills.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 12:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 12:18 pm
Star cabinet debate 2018 at the Winter Garden in Sheffield. Councillor Jayne Dunn cabinet member for education and skills.

'What got me into politics was representing the ordinary person, and that's what it should all be about.'

Coun Dunn runs her own beauty therapy business, is an elected representative of Southey ward and holds one of the most responsible roles in the city.

Jayne Dunn Fair fund sheffield schools

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On a typical day, Coun Dunn gets up at around 5am, goes for a run, does yoga and responds to emails before most people are even awake. On November 30, she had run every day for an entire year.

'My social life has certainly suffered but that's my choice,' she said.

'I really enjoy being part of cabinet, I'm quite a bit different but I think that's good because we have all got our own personalities and we all look at things from a different angle, otherwise we would just be saying the same things, but it is really difficult.'

She has been a councillor for six years and held various cabinet positions over the past three, including environment and streetscene and housing.

Star cabinet debate 2018 at the Winter Garden in Sheffield. Councillor Jayne Dunn cabinet member for education and skills.

In her current portfolio, Coun Dunn has worked to improve opportunities for learning later in life, deal with the academisation of schools, help tackle the city's high exclusion rate and better the opportunities for people with special educational needs. 

She said: 'There's an awful lot of challenges on the skills side which I think no government has tackled correctly and as a woman who retrained as an adult, the frustration I have is the lack of government incentive on it, it's all about numbers and I'm about people.

'I'm really focussing on people with special educational needs and those who have been out of education for a long time. I want a city for the future and I want everybody to be able to play a part.'

Coun Dunn retrained later in life herself, and has run her own business for 18 years.

She said: 'At school I was kind of passed over, I don't think my potential was tapped into which is where my ambition for everyone else comes from.

'I think the later training was my opportunity to fly and I did it in my late 40s. Especially for women, it's difficult to grab these opportunities because we automatically take the caring role.'

She was first elected representative for Broomhill ward in 2012, and later Southey ward in 2016 and said she '˜absolutely loves it'. 

Coun Dunn added: 'It was a real surprise because I was up against the former leader of the council Paul Scriven, it was really great to represent a ward not only I had my business in but also my home. It was a real honour and the strangest thing was walking about and seeing your name in people's windows.  

'I don't come from a particularly trade union background or very political background, which is really what council should be about '“ ordinary people. It was really great to help all the people I met on a daily basis through my business and take their opinions and point of view to council.'