Last Updated: 12 August 2010
Created: 12 August 2010
Recently I’ve been focussing a great deal on education issues in the town.
Firstly, I have been pushing for greater local provision of post 16 education, ending the block on local schools from offering this. As a former councillor in Abbey Meads, I saw that young people from the local area faced a real challenge when it came to deciding where to go to study A-levels. They may have faced either a trip to Swindon College, New College (involving two bus journeys) or even head out of the area to Cirencester College. To make sure that the local schools are able to offer a wide range of subjects, part of the solution could be to create clusters of local schools, who together could offer local students a wide range of academic and vocational courses.
This week I had an excellent meeting with Isambard School’s Head Teacher Rachael Mattey and Senior Governors at the school in Redhouse. I’m delighted to say that they’re fully on board with these ideas and I look forward to helping to drive them forward.
Secondly, in Westminster, I’ve been championing the need for greater emphasis on the vital teaching of personal finance and entrepreneurial skills. So many young people have to quickly face the pressures and pitfalls of credit cards, loans, rental agreements and mortgages. I want our schools to properly equip young people for the challenges that lie ahead. I also support the greater provision of formal financial qualifications, which is vital in our town with many employment opportunities connected to the financial services sector. I am delighted that Nationwide Building Society is supporting my work on this.
Thirdly, also in Westminster, I’ve been doing a lot of work on the future of Further Education. We have a duty to equip all young people with relevant skills that give them the best opportunity to seek long-term employment. We are seeing too many graduates leaving university struggling to find work, having racked up debts often in excess of £30,000. Currently the system clearly isn’t working. Therefore I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on local apprenticeships, which offer real-life applied skills and often offer a better chance of employment. That’s why I fully support the government’s move to create 50,000 new apprenticeships, and now we need to do more to make it easier for small and medium size business to offer apprenticeships.
I will keep pressing for our young people to get the local educational options they deserve, both as the local MP and a fellow local resident.