As a former schools Governor and as a mother, I have always taken a close interest in schools and education policy, at a local and national level. I know as an employer, it is vital we make sure our children are prepared for their future working life. That is why my aim is to ensure all schools, colleges, students, teachers and parents feel I have their best interests at heart.
Within two year, I have visited almost two thirds of all schools- nursery, primary, secondary, colleges and specialist- within my constituency. This is essential in order to understand the successes, challenges and opportunities for schools within my constituency. I want to see more opportunities for our young people to access high level, high quality education and apprenticeships. I am and will continue to work hard to bring businesses closer to both the young people and the institutions so that a better flow of what is wanted from industry and business is understood by all.
At the start of 2016 when the Government was in consultation upon plans to transition every school into an academy school by 2020, I was hugely concerned this programme would be more detrimental than helpful. Throughout the period, I met repeatedly with Nicky Morgan, the then Secretary of State for Education to raise my concerns as well as meeting with Tim Coulson, Regional Schools Commissioner to discuss the impact of the proposals on schools within Suffolk and my Bury St Edmunds constituency.
My concerns were around the potential for the plans to be overly prescriptive in one model of schooling, disregarding the variet of student talent whether in the vocational or academic sphere. Furthermore, rural schools would have been unfairly disadvantaged with plans to create Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), in comparison to urban schools which tend to have a higher intake, be closer toghether and find funding from sponsors more easily.
I applaud the focus in delivering educational excellence, however, I seriously doubted the efficacy of the programme. Many schools, whether an academy or not, already deliver an excellent education and offer choice within teh system. Plans to impose the measure on all schools, in my mind, were not the right thing to do.
That is why I am delighted this government has listened over the academy schools programme and put the interests of rural schools into their decision making. I will continue to defend the interest of rural schools which, comparatively, tend to struggle to deliver provisions.
Fairer funding for Suffolk schools
I have been active in fighting for fairer funding in schools, which impacts schools in my Bury St Edmunds constituency. In November 2015, I was among a handful of MPs who presented petitions signed by schools in my constituency, calling for this unfairness to be addressed.
Tackling discrepancies to fairer funding models must come from all levels of governance, and I along with other Suffolk MPs have been active in bringing together all sides to consider not only how but exactly why we need to deliver a more equally funded system. I am really pleased that Suffolk funding has gone up since, to deliver a more equal funding model compared to urban areas.