This week, schools across Tameside will break up for the summer holidays. I’m exceptionally grateful to staff at local schools for working so hard to keep our children and young people learning during a period that has been so disrupted by the pandemic.
Children and young people have had it really rough over the last two and a half years, and I think it’s only right that as we end another school year – and hopefully look towards better times – we recognise and congratulate young people for how they have reacted in the face of unprecedented changes to their learning routines.
Crucially, this year marked the return of A Level and GSCE exams, after two years of teacher assessment. I know that many students will be feeling anxious about how the pandemic will have impacted their grades. This is understandable, but it’s important to remember that there are many routes to success, and if exams don’t go your way, there are lots of other ways of doing what you’re passionate about. What’s important is that you stay positive and take a moment to recognise all the tremendous work that you’ve put in to get to this stage.
The pandemic hasn’t only changed schools, but our society too. As we rebuild, it’s so important that we help young people leaving school find routes into high-quality jobs. I know from my regular visits to local schools the sheer volume of talent across Tameside. If we want to build a fairer and more prosperous future, we must harness that talent.
How do we do that? By listening to young people and finding out what works for them. Some young people will want to go to University, others will want to embrace vocational training, or secure an apprenticeship. We’re all different, and our learning system should reflect that.
I believe passionately that there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to education and skills. In fact, it’s something that I’ve challenged the Government on in Parliament on several occasions. If levelling-up is to mean anything, then it means embracing the diverse talents of people across Tameside, and developing an economy built on forward-looking skills and decent jobs.
The future is bright, then, for children across Tameside. I’d like to wish you all a happy and restful summer holidays and can’t wait to see what you achieve over the months and years ahead.