Journal column - 4/9/18

We're back to the future as kids become pupils once again and return to school after the summer holiday.

On the last day of the school term most parents are quite relieved to shrug off the school run, packed lunches and washing uniforms.

I’d wager many probably looked forward to the long break as much as the kids even if it required juggling jobs.

But after a few weeks of arranging play dates and childcare I wouldn't be surprised if some started to look forward to the beginning of September.

Schools are returning across the North East for teachers and staff as well as children so it'll be deja vu all over again for many and a fresh start for others.

It’s perfectly understandable that each and every parent wants the best for their children when they progress through school life.

My mam did for me in Jarrow and she wasn't the only one then and certainly wouldn't be now in an era of greater parent power.

I’ve spoken to many parents who told me in an ideal world they'd want their children better educated in smaller classes with more teachers and improved discipline in smarter buildings and playing fields so manicured you could play snooker on the football pitch.

There’s nothing wrong in this aspiration whether you’re from the Boldons or Berwick, Wardley or Warkworth. Wanting the best, the very best, for our children is the goal of communities and not just parents and carers.

I'll always be proud of voting for the Labour Governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown initiating the largest school building in this or any region of Britain's history, creating state of the art modern centres of learning to replace crumbling classrooms created by years of neglect by the Tories.

It was Labour who recruited 42,000 extra teachers plus 123,000 teaching assistants.

I know we didn’t get everything right last time but a Labour Government's needed again to turn around an education system crippled by years of careless Conservative austerity and misrule.

For eight excruciatingly painful years the Tories have ripped the heart out of our education system, scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme, raising tuition fees and getting rid of the Educational Maintenance Allowance. 

Students should not be leaving university owing upwards of £60,000 and our schools should not be scratching around to pay for books and toilet rolls. 

On top of needing to pick up the phone and ask for dancing lessons, May would be also be better off asking Jeremy Corbyn how to reshape our education system for the better.

Jeremy's pledge to ensure every young child has a musical instrument they'll be taught to play is music to parents' ears.

And only a Labour Government would abolish tuition fees, reinstate maintenance grants and provide free, lifelong education in further education colleges. 

Only a Labour Government will end the race to the bottom in our schools, and bring back genuine national pay in education, not just for teachers too, but for teaching assistants who work tirelessly in schools, providing an education for our children. 

Only a Labour Government will create a National Education Service, providing cradle to grave learning, free at the point of use, ensuring every person has the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and experience to realise their full potential.

Labour will continue to do everything possible to oppose the crippling Tory cuts to education and we will support our schools, teachers and other education professionals, who are doing such a great job to provide our children with the best possible education they deserve.  

Education is opportunity, a potential passport to a good job and home. Work hard, kids!


Meet your MP


Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

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