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