Education is a big priority for me, and an issue in which I have taken a particular personal interest. Having helped set up and run a successful new Free School before being elected, I have direct experience of the challenges involved, and have seen the huge positive difference a good school can make in improving the lives of children from all backgrounds.
Education Select Committee (July 2015 - May 2017)
I was a member of the Education Select Committee in Parliament, where I had the opportunity to question those responsible for policy in our schools, and contribute to recommendations for changes. I, as a member of the committee, held in depth inquiries in teacher supply, mental health of looked after children, the work of OFSTED, the role of Regional School Commissioners. I also sat on the Education and Adoption Bill Committee and worked on the legislation relating to coasting schools- aimed at boosting the quality in schools. I was also part of a Joint Committee with the Business, Innovation and Skills as part of an Inquiry in Productivity; and I Chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group for Financial Education (September 2016 - May 2017), where I led an Inquiry into the effectiveness of Financial Education in schools, in partnership with Young Enterprise and the Money Advice Service.
A Levels in Fareham
I have visited all secondary schools in Fareham, and am doing the same with our local primary schools, to see for myself the hard work of pupils and express my gratitude for the dedication of their teachers. It is always good to hear from them their views on how our education system can be improved.
Providing new A Level places in Fareham is of critical importance, and the need is clear: currently, up to 1,200 young learners travel out of the Fareham District to access post-16 opportunities at either FE Colleges or sixth form colleges further afield. This is estimated to cost £500-800 per year per student in travel, whilst the time cost in travel can be up to 90 minutes each way. It cannot be right that so many local students are having to travel long distances to get the education they deserve, so we need local solutions.
I raised this issue in my maiden speech in the House of Commons and I have since been working hard alongside local schools, to identify a solution and am pleased that, since my election, the Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust ("GFM") has been set up, aiming to provide young people in our area with the best opportunities in education. The GFM has been formed by Bay House Academy, LWS Academy, Brune Park School and Gomer Junior School. It is a local solution that will champion learners across all phases of education, working in partnership with Hampshire County Council and all local schools and I am pleased to be working with the GFM and local schools to identify how A Levels can be provided in Fareham.