One of the best parts of being a Member of Parliament is getting to visit local schools and talk politics, local issues and the future.
There’s nothing quite as inspiring as getting to a school and meeting young people who are genuinely passionate about the world around them and want to make a tangible difference. I had this experience in abundance last week when I visited pupils at St Thomas More RC College and St Anne’s Primary School in Denton, where both Cllr Allison Gwynne and I spoke about our respective roles.
I chatted with pupils about how being an MP works practically, local challenges and what kind of policies I want to see implemented nationally. Part of my job is answering questions in high-pressure situations, but nothing can prepare you for a grilling from a room full of informed young people.
But this is how it should be. Young people have just as much right to be represented as adults. Unfortunately, I think school-age kids are all too often overlooked by policymakers.
After all, young people have faced huge upheavals – both to their learning and their social interaction – thanks to the pandemic. It falls on us, then, to make sure that we give students the tools and support to thrive.
That’s why I’m so proud to support Labour’s plans to end unfair tax breaks for private schools and use the £1.7bn a year raised to invest in great state education and boost new teacher recruitment.
Not only is supporting young people morally important, but also practically necessary too. From the climate crisis to global conflict to an ever-expanding digital world, we will rely on the next generation to resolve some unprecedented challenges. It’s vital, therefore, that we do away with the inequality that says where you grow up or how wealthy your parents are determines the quality of education you receive. I want to see a Britain where no matter the financial circumstances you grow up, you can have access to brilliant state education.
Hopefully, we see these changes implemented sooner rather than later. Until then, however, I’ll do everything I can to fight for the young people I represent in Tameside. There is so much talent locally, and it gives me real hope for the future.