Unfortunately, I wasn't able to speak in the education debate today because time ran out. Here is the speech I was due to make...
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
I would like to begin by thanking the teachers, school staff, parents, pupils and students of Loughborough constituency who have shown just how well a community can work to support each other and carry on in the face of adversity. It really is the case that it takes a village to raise a child. The hard work of all should be recognised.
Great leadership has been shown by the Heads of schools, such as at Cobden Primary School and Woodbrook Vale School. I should also highlight the Principal of Loughborough College and the Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University whose input to education has been of national significance in terms of the leadership, planning and foresight they have exhibited and shared with colleagues across the country.
Remote learning has its place but is not a proper substitute for classroom learning as it has a number of downfalls. In addition to the process of studying and learning, school has many social and welfare aspects to it that are vital to the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Access to space and freedom to express thoughts and ideas amongst peers, as well as friendship and support are all of great developmental importance.
Therefore, given that we are now seeing a fall in the number of people in hospitals with Covid-19, thanks in huge part to the fantastic work of the Government and the NHS in delivering over 17.5 million vaccinations across the UK, we now need to begin opening up again, and this must start with getting all young people back into classrooms. I place a strong emphasis on ‘all’ here because the calls for a phased approach over time would have a significant detrimental impact on those young people asked to remain at home.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my support for the additional funding the Government is providing to schools and colleges, and the steps it is taking, such as making online resources available during the summer term and summer holidays, to ensure young people can catch up and are not left behind. We now need to use this time to improve the life chances of all pupils and students and we should do this not only through traditional teaching and learning but in opening up the imagination of every child to have ambition and purpose for their future.
In conclusion, I think this is a great opportunity for education throughout the country. Teachers have surely never been more highly thought of by the public than they are right now. Government funding and the will of teachers and learners to succeed has never been higher. As my Rt Honourable friend Robert Halfon says, this is now the time for ambition and optimism. I look forward to the great many things this generation will achieve throughout their lives.