The previous Government's Building Schools for the Future in Staffordshire scheme was a convoluted and bureaucratic process that wasted £4 million over four years before a single cement mixer was even on site. Across the entire country less than 100 schools were actually built and many took as long as 6 years until the buildings were ready. Fortunately the Coalition ended this money-wasting and time-consuming scheme as soon as it entered office.
Although new school buildings are needed in some cases I believe this money could be better spent on teaching, resources, and providing support for disadvantaged children.
Michael Gove's commitment to reprioritise teachers' time away from red-tape and into the classroom, and to rebalance the levels of disciplinary action teachers can use, are much needed reforms for our schools and children. I am glad they are being implemented by the Coalition.
It is my ambition to help win academy status for every school in Tamworth by the end of the Parliament. I have been meeting with Ministers, teachers, potential sponsors and local residents to try to help the evolution as soon as possible. I believe by giving teachers – and head teachers – more power they will be able to do their job properly without constant government interference. This is why I welcome free schools and academies.
I was impressed that Greenacres Primary have achieved academy status as I believe this will aid 'vertical integration' between primary and secondary schools, enabling students to have a smoother transition between year 6 and year 7. This is very much needed as too many local students go to school with a huge disadvantage – their reading age is well below their actual age. Meaning children as young as two are being left behind on their first day of secondary school.
Another issue I have been working on is to ensure academic rigour in the examination system. I know ministers have taken an exemplary lead on this and I agree with what they are doing; however, constituents have flagged the issue with me so I decided to raise this with academic boards directly. I believe grade inflation is a real concern which may out-place our students in a highly globalised economy.
I often visit local schools and talk to children, and welcome them to Westminster, to tell them the importance of democracy and our parliamentary history. Educating our children is vitally important for the future of our country and I will support any proposal that puts the interest of the next generation first.
The Education Department's website provides further information on Government policy.