Parliament is now back in full swing with MPs voting on legislation and new Prime Minister Theresa May setting out how this government will work to make Britain a country that works for everyone.
Central to this is the need for a major increase in the number of good school places to ensure that all children have the best possible start in life.
In working to achieve this we have a strong record to build on: currently, 1.4 million more children are in a school rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted compared with 2010. Here, in Hastings and Rye, 75% of our schools are now graded in these top two bands compared with just 52% five years ago.
However, with 1.25 million children across the UK still attending schools which are inadequate or which require improvement, more must be done.
To build a twenty-first century school system which works for everyone the Government proposes to unlock four existing parts of the education system to affect a major impact on the quality of education our children receive:
Independent schools will have to do more, offering a greater number of school places to those less able to afford them and sponsoring and setting-up schools in the state sector.
Harnessing the talent in our world-class universities, the Government will encourage them to do more to widen participation in higher education and to open or sponsor new schools.
The academic success of selective schools should be spread more widely. Through allowing existing selective schools to expand, new ones to open, and some currently non-selective schools to convert where there is demand, more children from disadvantaged backgrounds – whose places selective schools will be expected to guarantee – will have the opportunity to benefit from an excellent education.
Finally, the Government will look to ensure that high-performing faith schools are truly inclusive and that they do more to raise standards in neighbouring non-faith schools.
These proposals, set out this week by the Government for consultation, aim to use our country’s expertise in delivering a fantastic education to ensure all children attend schools which best serve their talents and potential.
From academically selective schools to high-performing academies and specialist schools - such as the excellent Rye Studio – for children with creative, sporting or technical ability, all children, regardless of location or background, should be able to develop their talents in a school system which works for everyone.
I will be meeting with our area’s headteachers this week and I look forward to hearing their views on what more can be done to boost the opportunities available to local children.
Schooling and education is how we ensure that our children and young people have the best possible start in life and that they have the opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them. Everyone should be guaranteed this start and I will continue to work as your MP to achieve this for Hastings and Rye.