WORCESTER’S MP Robin Walker writes for the Observer..
The final week of this term of Parliament has been busier than ever for me and my department with the announcement of our Schools White Paper and the launch of a long-awaited green paper on Special Needs education.
Months of policy work have gone into preparing for these and it was great to be able to join Nadhim Zahawi at the launch of the White Paper on Monday at an Outstanding Primary School which has moved up from inadequate with the help of a strong multi academy trust.
We have plenty of examples like this in Worcester and, whilst it is good news that we have more good and outstanding schools than ever before, the white paper reflects that there is further to go.
I am glad that we have set an ambition to ensure that instead of the figure of just above 55% that we took over from Labour in 2010 or the current figure of around 2/3 of children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at the end of primary school, we should aspire to ensure that 90% of children can achieve these levels. Supporting schools on catch up & recovery as well as continuing to invest to target disadvantage is key to that.
I am proud to have set out new parent pledge – ensuring that any child who falls behind in English or maths will get targeted support and pleased to be working with the sector to provide better CPD, more training opportunities, higher starting salaries for teachers and higher standards of behaviour and attendance for all schools. This is backed by the £7 billion of extra funding that we won for the sector in the spending review which will mean a 6% increase in per pupil funding for Worcestershire Schools next year and a 13% increase in high needs spending.
I know some of the difficulties that parents of children with special needs have faced over many years in getting the right provision for their children and I am glad that my colleague Will Quince is consulting on ambitious proposals for a streamlined national system of support as well as delivering much needed investment in high needs places.
I am looking forward to discussing all these proposals with schools over the coming months and continuing to work with them to drive up educational standards and deliver fair funding for Worcester