Education: the pandemic must no longer hold us back

00:00 24 April 2022

Coming from a family of teachers and having been a former teacher myself, albeit briefly, I have always been passionate about access to education and convinced that all children deserve an excellent education.

The government has recently published its Schools White Paper, together with its ambitious reforms for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which I hope will help us to begin to improve the education here in North Devon.

Government plans set out how any child who falls behind in maths or English will get the support they need to get back on track, as part of the parent pledge. Parental commitment will support the Government’s Upgrading Mission for Education that 90% of primary school children should achieve the expected level in Key Stage 2 reading, writing and mathematics by 2030.

In 2019, only 65% ​​of children achieved this standard, with the Covid pandemic exacerbating the challenges, despite the incredible work of parents and teachers during this time. It’s important that we don’t let the pandemic hold us back any longer, and we look to the future to teach next generations the skills they need to succeed. This is the Schools’ first White Paper for six years, so it’s a real opportunity to lay the foundations for success.

Schools will also offer a minimum school week of 32.5 hours by September 2023, and by 2030 all children will benefit from an education in a school of a strong multi-academy group or in the process of joining it , which will help transform underperforming schools and deliver the best possible outcomes for children.

This is accompanied by new plans to better support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The government has set out its vision for a single national SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) system which will introduce new standards in the quality of support provided to children in education, health and care.

The system’s reform plans will be subject to a 13-week public consultation, giving families frustrated with the existing complex and bureaucratic support system the chance to shape how the new system will work in the future – and reassuring them that their school will meet the needs of their children so that they can achieve their full potential.

You can participate at I also recently took part in a panel discussion with England’s Children’s Commissioner on the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for children and how schools across the countries teach these subjects.

Being a mathematician myself, I know how important it is to interest young people in numeracy and to give them the skills for the future. I am particularly keen to ensure that girls are as enthusiastic as boys to pursue careers in STEM, and that the growing opportunities these subjects offer are fully appreciated by local students.

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