Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
On the 5th July, I spoke at Bedford Academy’s ‘Sod Turning Ceremony’. Here is the full text of the speech I gave:
“We meet today, not only to celebrate a building, but to celebrate education.
Not only to mark the achievement of a goal, but to ready ourselves for the challenge ahead.
Nothing defines better the success of a community than the teaching of its children.
Nothing fuels the innovation, the creativity, the passions, the heart, the strivings, the successes of the generation of Bedfordians that will follow us – nothing fuels this future, more than the passion, dedication and skills of our teachers.
Today, at Bedford Academy, we recommit ourselves as a community to the critical importance of raising educational standards and strengthening the ethos of high expectations, respect, openness and honesty with a focus on every student; the ethos that lies at the heart of this Academy. Principal, teachers, assistants and staff – we commend and encourage your every effort.
Today, we commit ourselves, not only to the education of every student, but to each year of schooling. We recognise that each child only gets one chance at each year of their education.
We commit ourselves that the quest for higher standards is not only a long term discussion, but an urgent priority for today, where failure to perform demands leadership and action so that not one single year of any child’s education is wasted.
Today, we acknowledge the dedication of two of our town’s finest institutions of learning – the Bedford Charity and Bedford College – and the guidance they provide to help Bedford Academy achieve its mission. Your sponsorship has been critical to getting to this day of celebration.
Today we praise the parents and carers who listen each evening to their children’s stories of their day at school, who push them to do their homework, who pack their lunches and read them stories, and who wryly smile as they – as we all – remember that although any particular day at school may have been better or worse, that our ‘days at school’ were the most important of our lives.
And today to the pupils of the Academy, to those who are our future, I say that ‘Great things are expected of you.’
Your teachers can see your potential – often before you can see it yourself. Respect them, listen to them. Be aware of all that you can be and not be distracted. Make us all proud through the achievements of your lives and the openness of your hearts.
Today, this day, let us celebrate the great futures that the Bedford Academy will nurture, shape and strengthen.”