If a constituent in Tameside stopped me in the street and asked me what I thought the single most important thing for unlocking Britain’s potential would be, my answer would be simple: education.
That’s not to say that a whole host of other things don’t matter in politics, but education is the engine of our society. It prepares people for life and equips them with the knowledge and skills to contribute to our world. Get education right, and you’ll make tangible inroads in tackling problems like poverty and sluggish growth.
Unfortunately, at this point in time, the Government is not getting education right. We’ve got staff shortages, huge attainment inequalities, and a developing crisis in absenteeism. Add this to the recent RAAC concrete crisis, and it’s clear that our education system is in need of urgent attention.
When I visit schools here in Tameside, I’m always inspired by the talent, kindness, and knowledge I encounter. The same can be said for further education institutions, which equip adults with new skills in an ever-changing employment landscape.
But this talent is being failed through a combination of Government neglect and a fundamental failure to invest in our children.
Ultimately, politics is about priorities, which is why I’m so pleased that Labour has committed to relentlessly driving high standards in our state schools. This will start by ending the unjustifiable tax breaks afforded to private schools. By scrapping these tax breaks, the next Labour Government will recruit over 6,500 more teachers and put access to mental health counselling in every school.
This work will allow the next Labour Government to develop a broad and enriching curriculum, one that allows children and young people to participate in arts, digital and sports subjects that develop essential life skills.
This is precisely the kind of innovative and bold thinking we need to see in Government.
When education fails, we all fail. You don’t need to be a parent or guardian to be invested in our education sector, it impacts and benefits us all. It therefore needs to become a national mission to break down the barriers to opportunity at every single stage.