I want every child in my constituency and across Southwark to attend a good or outstanding school.
I believe fundamentally in the power of education to enable people to reach their full potential and to help address disadvantage.
I am hugely proud of Labour’s achievement in transforming the quality of education in London since the election of the 1997 Labour government, and of the many fantastic local schools in my constituency. These schools take a diverse intake of pupils and produce great results, regardless of a child’s background, in huge contrast with Kent, for example, which has grammar schools and where performance is very mixed – in some schools just six per cent of children achieve five GCSEs grade A-C.
I am dismayed at Theresa May’s announcement that the Tories want to expand the prevalence of grammar schools. Personal experience, across three generations of my family, supports what all of the evidence on grammar schools says – that while they can deliver a good education for a small proportion of children, this comes at the cost of consigning many more children to ‘failure’ at the age of eleven, and that they are neither necessary nor effective at delivering the objective of an excellent education for all.
The reintroduction of grammar schools is a typically pernicious Tory policy – it promises much, but is inherently capable of delivering only for relatively few. Experience of education in London over the past fifteen years tells us that we do not need grammar schools to deliver a great education for every child, and that creating schools which command the confidence of parents from every part of our community genuinely delivers for all.
Labour’s approach to improving education was to invest in teachers, leadership, school buildings and facilities, and to hold schools and Local Education Authorities to account for the quality of the education they deliver. With a threat by the Tory government to cut the funding for schools in London by up to 20 per cent, we must fight tooth and nail for a fully funded education system which enables every child in our communities to realise their full potential.