Locally we have some very good schools, as well as schools that are improving at pace. As the start of term approaches, now is the time to focus on making sure our young people are able to return to school – safe in the knowledge that schools are fully prepared for their return.
Having played their part to help combat this virus by staying at home, now is the time for students to get back to the education they deserve and need for their futures.
Making sure that young people aren’t left behind in education has been one of the great challenges posed by the pandemic. This has affected not just learning and exam results but also the social side of school that is so important to the development of our young people.
Since March, credit must go to heads, teachers and other school staff, who have worked so hard – to set up online and remote learning, as well as ensuring schools remain open for vulnerable children and children of keyworkers. My thanks to everyone for all they have done.
Clearly we must recognise we will have to continue to adapt and change. This academic year will not be the same as years past. The latest medical advice is that the virus will be with us for some time to come. So adaptation is necessary. Withdrawing – from school, work, life – is not an option.
It has been a particularly difficult time for those awaiting GCSE and A-Level results. It is a stressful period at the best of times, as students and parents anxiously await results that provide the gateway to the next stage of work or further education.
Earlier in the year it was announced that exams would not be taking place. A new way to assess students would have to be found. After consultation the Government decided to use teacher predicted grades moderated by an algorithm system to prevent inflated grades. This is because grades were set to be 40% higher than for previous years based on the exam predictions. Yet the algorithm system also meant that where a school had been improving, that may not have been taken fully into account. As is well known, there were other issues too.
Following concerns raised with me about specific grading, I immediately had a meeting with Schools Minister Nick Gibb and spoke with local headteachers and students. I was one of the first MPs to call for an urgent review. I therefore welcome the fact that the Government changed its position and reinstated teacher assessed grades for A-Levels and GCSEs.
Education is the cornerstone for opportunity, life chances and success. That’s why I am ambitious to ensure young people in our area have the education and skills training they need to get on and do well in life.