Lib Dem MP learns about bor­ough’s ed­u­ca­tion woes

The Wokingham Paper - - NEWS - By PHIL CREIGHTON

TEACH­ERS, stu­dents and gover­nors came to Wok­ing­ham last Fri­day to hear an op­po­si­tion MP talk about is­sues re­lat­ing to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Layla Mo­ran, the Lib­eral Demo­crat spokesper­son on ed­u­ca­tion and a for­mer maths and physics teacher, gave a talk be­fore an­swer­ing ques­tions from the au­di­ence.

These in­cluded the is­sue of money with Wok­ing­ham bor­ough re­ceiv­ing the low­est fund­ing in the coun­try for ed­u­ca­tion, and while the gov­ern­ment has promised £1.3 bil­lion ex­tra na­tion­ally for ed­u­ca­tion, Ms Mo­ran said that it was not clear at this point where all of this money would come from.

At the same time, she ar­gued, schools are see­ing higher rises in their costs than the stan­dard rate of in­fla­tion, leav­ing lo­cal school bud­gets squeezed.

The MP for Ox­ford and Abing­don said that the con­stant changes in pol­icy dic­tated by gov­ern­ments look­ing to leave their mark on ed­u­ca­tion put enor­mous pres­sure on teach­ers, and too many qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple are de­cid­ing to leave the pro­fes­sion.

And she said that Berk­shire is also one of the ar­eas of the coun­try where stu­dents from poorer back­grounds do less well, some­thing likely to worsen with the clo­sures of many Sure Start cen­tres due to gov­ern­ment cut­backs.

Ms Mo­ran out­lined a num­ber of pos­si­ble so­lu­tions, in­clud­ing a greater fo­cus on early years ed­u­ca­tion to boost chil­dren from less well off back­grounds be­fore they start school; In­di­vid­ual Learn­ing Ac­counts to help fund stu­dents whether they go into aca­demic or vo­ca­tional train­ing; and a stronger fo­cus on the well-be­ing of stu­dents and teach­ers.

She pro­posed that ed­u­ca­tion should be put back into the hands of ed­u­ca­tors whose main con­cern is their stu­dents, rather than gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy­mak­ers who are too of­ten driven by po­lit­i­cal agen­das.

The au­di­ence also heard the viewpoint of lo­cal sixth-form stu­dent Gabriel Stir­ling, who talked about his per­spec­tive as some­one tak­ing A lev­els.

Layla Mo­ran, MP for Ox­ford West and Abing­don, talks to vis­i­tors at Wok­ing­ham Town Hall at a meet­ing on Fri­day

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