Education is something which is massively important to me; not least because of my personal experience of what great teachers and schools can provide.
I was born and grew up in West Berkshire and went to school at St Finnian’s in Cold Ash and then St. Bartholomew’s in Newbury.
I remember one teacher at school, Mrs White. She was my English teacher, and she knew it was a subject I needed to improve. Mrs White was honest with me, she called it out. She told me if my English didn't improve I would fail. Most importantly she helped me understand that the grades I achieved then would be the key to my future. Mrs White was patient and believed in me and I turned it around and got a B in English.
Mrs White didn't just teach me to get good exam results. I learnt from her that a good education is the foundation of every child’s future.
There are teachers like Mrs White in schools across our constituency; I know some of them personally because my children are at school here, and they are all trying to give our children a great start in life.
But they are trying to do that with ever reducing resources following years of education cut-backs.
The Tory budget cuts have meant that schools simply don’t have the funding they need to provide the education that they want to and that our children deserve. Teachers are often having to pay for equipment from their own pockets or ask parents to contribute from theirs.
Missing funding for education means missing out on learning; it means equipment isn’t provided or isn’t good enough. It means fewer teachers per pupil, which means bigger class sizes. It means our children missing out on the education that they could have, should have, and which I believe they must have.
Voting for the Liberal Democrats will make three things happen:
- It will reverse the cuts to school funding so that every child can have access to the resources they need and the start in life they deserve; that means a significant extra amount for Newbury schools over the next Parliament
- It will triple the Early Years Pupil Premium – the money which provides additional support to children from disadvantaged backgrounds – to £1000
- It will support education both now and in the years ahead by guaranteeing all teachers a pay rise which is at least in line with inflation, and will invest more in teachers' continued professional development
These are 3 commitments which are part of a huge plan for education which also includes:
- a new schools inspectorate, looking at school culture and wellbeing as much as academic performance
- identification, as early as possible, and support for children with special educational needs
- protecting the availability of arts and creative subjects in the curriculum
- challenging gender stereotyping and early sexualisation, working with schools to promote diversity and equality.
… and a huge amount more.
The Liberal Democrat focus on education because giving everyone an equal chance in life starts with providing a great school journey. The alternatives are more broken promises or ideas which prioritise ideology rather than our children’s future.
I will help bring that focus on education by being your voice in Parliament demanding better for our children’s education.
Lee Dillon - a voice from West Berkshire, for West Berkshire.