Education is one of the most important causes I fight for as your MP for Hastings and Rye. A good education is a foundation for a successful career which is why I am campaigning to ensure that every child from our area is able to access the best possible education. It is hard to imagine where you might be in 30 years – I certainly could not have guessed my own future! – I want to ensure that our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and can thrive later on in their lives.
This is why I am delighted that last year, the Department for Education announced that Hastings would become an Opportunity Area. As one of the twelve Opportunity Areas in the UK, Hastings receives a share of £72 million of funding. This is an important step towards ensuring that our local children and young people get the best possible start in life. Whilst the funding is a welcome announcement, we have to spend it wisely. The expansion of NowTeach into Hastings is very encouraging: having teachers with transferable skills from other sectors will benefit the young people of Hastings and Rye.
Last week, I was delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, to Hastings. I found it very encouraging to meet with students at Sussex Coast College who are already benefitting from the funding the Department for Education is providing. Damian and I spoke to the students about how they have been supported by the i-Rock mental health service to overcome challenges both in their education and their transition into employment.
The Secretary of State and I met with the Opportunity Area Partnership Board and the Chair, Richard Meddings. We had a fantastic discussion about the local challenges and the chosen priorities of the locally-run board.
I am working to ensure that our young people receive the best possible start in life and to ensure that they are given the opportunities to unlock their potential. At a frank discussion with local headteachers, the Secretary of State was given some clear suggestions about what Government could do to help. I will continue to work closely with the Opportunity Area Partnership Board, the Department for Education and local schools to ensure that our young people receive the best educational opportunities possible.