Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
Minister for Childcare and Education, Sam Gyimah MP joined Bedford and Kempston MP, Richard Fuller at Goldington Academy on Monday. The Minister was in town to announce that the Academy had won a share of a £2 billion government fund to refurbish and repair schools across the country.
Goldington Academy is one of 270 schools across the country to benefit from the Priority Schools Building Programme, which was set up in 2011 to rebuild and refurbish schools.
Bedford MP Richard Fuller and the Minister toured the school and heard how the funding will be put to good use in replacing wiring and plumbing that was installed around 50 years ago, as well as refurbishing the sports facilities.
Students across Bedford and Kempston have taken part in the 2014 BBC School Report. BBC News School Report gives 11-16 year-old students in the UK the chance to make their own news reports for a real audience.
Year 8 students from St Andrew’s School in Bedford grilled Bedford MP, Richard Fuller about his school-days, his work and even his favourite sweet shop! While Sophie, a year 7 student at Bedford Modern School, asked Richard for his thoughts on racism and diversity.
The release of national school results lets me recognise the dedication, hard work and results of teachers, and the support staff, at our schools in Bedford and Kempston.
In 2010, local schools were 13 percentage points behind the national average for the proportion of students achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths.
Now, that gap is down to 8.8%, and 52% of students achieve that standard in Bedford and Kempston schools compared to just 42% in 2010.
Though not always consistent, each step of progress has to be hard won.
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.
In his speech to the students, teachers and sponsors, he said:-
“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.”
The school thanked Richard by baking a delicious cake (pictured above)!
So the Mayor, Executive and now the Council have made the decision to move, now, to a two-tier education system. We will embark on an expensive overhaul of our soon to be “Upper” schools and an expansion of the size of our Primary schools.
Putting on one-side the educational merits of two-tier vs three-tier – and on balance, I believe the arguments were in favour of two tier – the decision for a change is a very risky one at this time. The current government has so severely undermined the economy that there is very little faith that it has the money needed to meet its public funding promises. When the current period of artificial stimulus is over, and whichever party is in government, there will be a strain on the public finances more severe than any in living memory. Yet, despite this backdrop, the Mayor has led the decision to ask the Government for more money and foolishly taken them at their word that they have the wherewithal to pay. I have my doubts.