Back to School

 

 

 

Preparing for the new session of Parliament this week reminded me of the times I spent getting my children ready for a new year at school. While they are grown up now, I recall the mixture of feelings that I share with parents, grandparents and carers as they see their children grow in independence at each stage of their learning.

So for all those children and young people starting school this week or taking the next step in your education, I wish you the very best of luck. Your families too.

Thanks to the hard work of local teachers, governors and the wider community that supports our schools and colleges, more young people here are receiving an education that is considered by tough, independent regulators, to be “good” or “outstanding” than in 2010. This is also due to the reforms to education that have given school leaders and the communities they serve more control as well as a determined focus on learning and teaching standards.

Regular readers will know that I have long championed change in the way in which funding is allocated to schools and colleges. I am as determined now as I have ever been to ensure that our schools receive at least their fair share of funding and that funding is based on the needs of the children. I am pleased that the Government has pledged real terms increases to the per pupil funding that local schools receive.

It’s not just young people who will be starting something new this month. More local employers and people of all ages are participating in a wide range of good quality apprenticeships. Earning while learning, apprentices aged 25 and over, and not in the first year of their apprenticeship, earn at least the National Living Wage, most receive more.

 

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Helping the Rural Economy

In addition to my regular advice surgeries, one evening next week, I am also holding a Farmers Surgery, so please do get in touch if you would like to join me.

One of the things we will be discussing is the recently announced £200 million grant funding for rural businesses that will provide new support to expand and improve farm infrastructure such as buildings, machinery and access to broadband.

The current Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is expected to generate 6,750 new jobs. Already more than 1,400 projects have been agreed which are expected to create over 2,300 jobs.

I want to see this funding enabling high quality jobs in rural communities across the Duchy.

This round of funding will include: £30 million to improve rural broadband – the grants available will encourage growth by helping provide broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps or faster where this is not available or planned. It will supplement existing Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport investment in rural broadband. £45 million to help rural businesses grow and invest in new equipment – rural businesses, including those engaged in tourism and food production, can apply for funding to invest in their company, helping them to expand, diversify, and invest in new technology. £120 million for projects that improve farm productivity – this money will help farmers, foresters and landowners manage their land more effectively. Funding will be available for a wide range of purposes, including woodland management equipment, creating on-farm reservoirs and using water more efficiently. A further £6.6 million will be available for animal health and welfare projects.

This funding is part of planned investment of at least £3 billion into our rural economies by 2020 under RDPE. All projects agreed before we leave the EU will be guaranteed for their lifetime.

Delivering a Fairer Society

Delivering a fairer society surely must start with education – making sure that our children and young people can do their very best and reach their potential, wherever they’re growing up. That’s the means by which we build a better country.

I believe opportunity is about how we translate hope into something real – something concrete. So for me creating opportunity for people is essential. Our strong economy is vital, because it’s the opportunity engine of our country. But we now need to make it a country where everyone has an equal shot at taking advantage of those opportunities being created. This is a government that wants more opportunity for more people – and more equality of opportunity.

I believe we are building that education system that unlocks the talents of people here. We’ve got the right ingredients: expert teachers, determined to unlock every young person’s potential. A society that believes in fairness and businesses that now more than ever understand how education and skills drive growth. We can unleash the wealth of latent talent that we have – and become a modern, confident and fairer economy. A country that works for everyone.

Our country has been on a long journey on education – not just on improving the quality of our schools, but on giving parents real choice where before there was none. When I was growing up here there was no real choice at all. You got what you were given. I went to my local comprehensive school in Falmouth because nearly everyone did. And in this system some people got a good education. I was lucky – I had a great form teacher Mr Morris, who encouraged me and inspired me. People never forget great teachers, because the impact they have on our lives goes beyond that of other people that we will go on to meet. But some people were left behind. We can never accept the randomness of a postcode lottery in education.

Thanks to the leadership of local head teachers, the Academy programme, started under the last Labour government and accelerated since 2010, as well as the hard work of local teachers, more local children and young people are now in ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools.

That’s why we will keep pursuing our ambitious reforms. On what children are taught, on making sure they are taught well, and on how schools provide them with the knowledge and skills they need in modern Britain. We want schools that work for everyone.

This is a bold plan for transforming education in Britain. Everyone needs to play their part. This is not an easy mission. But the potential gains are huge – for young people and for Britain. And if we unlocked the talent of every young person, it would have a huge impact on their wellbeing and the economy.

Because, in spite of their circumstances, everyone has a talent. And when we recognise the potential of every person, we recognise the potential of our country.

First published in the Falmouth Packet 23/08/17

Exam Results

It’s good to see so many local young people doing so well in a wide range of exams. Much appreciation must go to their teachers, family members and carers who supported them through their time at school and college, enabling them to participate in a wide range of high quality academic and vocational learning.

Young people who are unsure what to do next can contact the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900, via web chat, email or by searching online for the National Careers Service. The service offers free and impartial advice and access to a range of online tools, including skills tests, course search, job search advice and personalised help from careers advisers.

A good education is a key building block in enabling people to unlock their potential and support their wellbeing. It also provides choices for young people considering their options after their formal education ends.

Helping young people think about their options requires very skilled and experienced navigators.

So I am delighted that part of the devolution deal that Cornwall Council has with the government is improving local careers advice.

“The Cornwall Careers Offer” that will be launched later this month at the Eden Project is a strategic plan that aims to increase the understanding of Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance across both secondary education and businesses in Cornwall to enhance the skills and career prospects of local young people and support business growth.

“The Cornwall Careers Offer” draws on best practise across the country and includes the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Enterprise Adviser Network that brings together senior business volunteers working directly with school career leads to inspire young people about the world of work.

First published in the West Briton 23/08/17

Education Opportunities

Many local people, especially young people, will be making fresh starts this month; starting school, college, university or an apprenticeship. Delivering a fairer society surely must start with education – making sure that our children and young people can do their very best and reach their potential, wherever they’re growing up. That’s the means by which we build a better country.

I believe opportunity is about how we translate hope into something real – something concrete. So for me creating opportunity for people is essential. Our strong economy is vital, because it’s the opportunity engine of our country. But we now truly need to make it a country where everyone has an equal shot at taking advantage of those opportunities being created. This is a government that wants more opportunity for more people – and more equality of opportunity. And that means unlocking our children’s potential.

I believe we are building that education system that unlocks the talents of all our people here. We’ve got the right ingredients: expert teachers, determined to unlock every young person’s potential. A society that believes in fairness and businesses that now more than ever understand how education and skills drive growth. We can unleash the wealth of latent talent that we have – and become a modern, confident and fairer economy. A country that works for everyone.

Our country has been on a long journey on education – not just on improving the quality of our schools, but on giving parents real choice where before there was none. When I was growing up here there was no real choice at all. You got what you were given. I went to my local comprehensive school in Falmouth because nearly everyone did. And in this system some people got a good education. I was lucky – I had a great form teacher Mr Morris, who encouraged me and inspired me. People never forget great teachers, because the impact they have on our lives goes beyond that of other people that we will go on to meet. But some people – and some places – have been left behind. The schools they went to and are going to weren’t good enough. We can never accept the randomness of a postcode lottery in education if we are to succeed as a country.

That’s why we will keep pursuing our ambitious reforms. On what children are taught, on making sure they are taught well, and on how schools provide them with the knowledge and skills they need in modern Britain. That’s why we’re pursuing a new gold standard in curriculum and assessment, together with an expectation that the vast majority of young people will study the EBacc subjects – this is an academic core of subjects – that keep options open for young people. And we are steadily strengthening the teaching profession with high-quality qualifications and standards, an increased focus on CPD of teachers supported by a new professional body – the College of Teaching – to bring the profession together.

We want all our children taught in good and outstanding schools. So we have an academies programme that hones in on inadequate and coasting schools – to ensure they improve. And our reforms are working – 1.8 million more children in good and outstanding schools since 2010, 1.8 million more children getting a better start and a better chance to realise their potential. We want schools that work for everyone.

We are reforming education post-16 by lifting the cap on university places. And with the help of top employers we are reforming our technical education – injecting investment, standards and quality – so that young people who are technically gifted have a world-class route to a great career.

In Britain there will always be room for talent. Unlocking talent is how we build all of our futures. And we will build an education system that unlocks that talent in every one of our young people.

This is a bold plan for transforming education in Britain. Everyone needs to play their part. Not just our education sector – our teachers, school leaders, lecturers, schools, colleges and universities. But also our employers, businesses and the government, local and national.

This is not an easy mission. But the potential gains are huge – for young people and for Britain. And if we unlocked the talent of every young person, it would have a huge impact on their wellbeing and the economy.

That’s why education is such a crucial part of our industrial strategy.

It’s why education is at the heart of our plan for Britain.

A true meritocracy. Opportunity as the glue that brings the country together. A strong, modern economy facing out to the world. A global Britain that lives up to its values.

Because, in spite of their circumstances, everyone has a talent. And when we recognise the potential of every person, we recognise the potential of our country.

First published in the Wave magazine

Jeremy Hunt visits Treliske

Last week Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited Treliske – his second visit in three months – to thank staff and have a conversation about patient safety.

The independent Commonwealth Fund said of the 11 countries analysed, the UK has the safest healthcare system in the world – a great tribute to NHS staff.

However there is more work to do as across England there are potentially around 150 avoidable hospital deaths every week.

Understandably, he got a number of questions about resources. He agreed that the NHS is treating more people than it ever has before, and trusts are grappling with significant financial pressures. “Some people assume that the goals of sound financial management and providing good quality care are mutually contradictory – but in fact the opposite is the case, with ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’-rated CQC trusts likely to be in surplus and ‘requires improvement/inadequate’-rated ones likely to be in deficit.

“Looking after patients and looking after pounds go hand in hand – I suspect because good financial management releases more resource for patient care, which in turn reduces the more than 10% of hospital expenditure which goes on avoidable medical mistakes or infections that people catch in hospitals.”

He agreed that we need more doctors and nurses, which is why he said “we are training tens of thousands”. But he added that culture, leadership and transparency are vital too.

“In 2012, many trusts had cut adult nursing numbers by several thousand – and were planning thousands more cuts to follow. Following the Francis report we then asked them to publish nurse numbers every month on every ward – after which instead of cutting numbers they went up by around 13,000.

“That is surely the reason why NHS in-patient satisfaction rates are currently at their highest ever level, despite ever-growing demands for care.”

First published in the West Briton 09/08/17

Drugs Strategy

Drugs destroy countless lives. They lead to crime, violence and disorder on our streets. They are one of the creeping and corrosive threats to our society that we must do more to tackle. But I am also determined to do all I can to protect the most vulnerable, who too often become the victims. I am proud to have played my part in the development of the Government’s new drug strategy which sets out how we will tackle the deadly impact of drugs, including substances like spice or fentanyl.

Drugs are illegal because they devastate lives. They are illegal because traffickers target vulnerable people all over the world and exploit their misery. They are illegal because of the agony caused by those solely focused on their next fix.

Last year, the Psychoactive Substances Act introduced a blanket ban on so-called ‘legal highs’, meaning back-yard chemists can no longer dodge the law by making small changes to the make up of dangerous drugs.

Being tough on drugs is vital, but it cannot be all we do.

It is vital we protect the vulnerable – to prevent them falling into the cycle of drug abuse and to help them turn their lives around. Doing so will spare countless families the agony of seeing a loved one’s life destroyed. It could save lives. And it will reduce the burden placed on our public services, in particular the police and the NHS.

While drug use is falling we are not complacent and are redoubling our efforts to prevent children taking drugs.

The new post of Recovery Champion will travel up and down the country, meeting NHS staff, police officers, teachers, community groups and local authorities, who all have a vital role to play in enabling people to live their lives free of drugs.

First Published in the West Briton 18/07/17