I joined the Education Committee this month. It is my first time on a Select Committee since 1998, having been on the frontbench in the meantime. I was Minister of State for Schools in 2001-2002, and am looking forward to analysing the developments since. I note that some of the challenges I dealt with – like problems of teacher recruitment, and I introduced TeachFirst to help – are back!
School standards in my multi-racial constituency in East London have rocketed since 1997. The life chances of the young people I represent have been transformed as a result. I want to see the Committee promoting further improvement. Our scrutiny of the proposed national school funding formula strikes me as especially important.
I was shadow employment spokesperson for five years. Unemployment has fallen, but youth unemployment remains stubbornly high. I am particularly interested in changing education to equip young people better for future employment. The economy is more fluid and more globalised. Employers’ demands of young people have changed. Education needs to adapt.
The joint sub-committee (with the BIS Select Committee) on Education, Skills and the Economy is important. I have enjoyed our first couple of meetings on careers education. Employers often complained in my last job about young people leaving school without any careers education at all. I hope we can help to change that. The forthcoming enquiry on apprenticeships will be important too.
Our recent sessions on children’s social work – an area I have not studied closely before – have been fascinating. Parallels with teacher recruitment are striking. I look forward to my membership of the Education Committee, and to contributing to the scrutiny of Government policy and practice. Our aim should be that, in the UK, no young person is left behind and everyone – from whatever background – has the chance to flourish.
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