Lib Dem MP learns about borough’s education woes
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