Journal column - 23/1/19

You don’t need a Maths GCSE let alone an A-Level to work out that Tory austerity is harming the education of our young.

Just ask any teacher or head when you drop off little Jenny or Johnny at the school gates though I’d advise you not to raise the subject when in a rush.

 

Because the pent-up anger of dedicated, skilled professionals educating future generations is understandably exploding.

 

When your aim in life is to give kids the best possible start in life and turn out model citizens, to find your mission undermined by damaging cuts is creating legitimate grievances.

 

Theresa May’s nose should be longer than Pinocchio when the wooden Prime Minister drones on dishonestly about “record levels of money” going into schools. Really, Prime Minister?

 

In the North East average funding will be down £189,776 per secondary school by 2019/20 compared with 2015/16.

 

Number crunchers in the House of Commons Library, as independent a set of experts you could hope to find, show real terms spending on schools and colleges down from £95.5-billion in 2011-12 to £87.8 billion in 2017-18.

 

That’s a fall of £7.7-billion so the education El Dorado is a fiction of Tedious Theresa’s weird world of statistics, damned statistics and Conservative funny money.

 

Doing more with less is impossible when resources keep dwindling, shrinking cash per pupil an unintentionally revealing insight into how little the Conservative Party’s invested into the education of the 93% of kids nationally who go to state schools.

 

Labour’s for the neglected many when every child matters, wasted potential a collective as well as an individual tragedy we’re unable to afford and must never tolerate.

 

With education a road to personal fulfilment and economic prosperity, brain power and knowledge our weapons to compete and beat low waged lands such as India and China, to skimp now is to lose heavily in the decades ahead.

 

There’s nothing wrong in wanting the best for your children when they progress through school life whether you live in the Boldons to Berwick. Indeed it’s to be encouraged, smiling faces of pupils who do well and the quiet pride of parents a joy to see.

 

I’ll be eternally grateful to the teachers and staff who cajoled, coaxed and, I’ll admit, occasionally needed to coerce me at school and I take my flat cap off to the classroom magicians performing miracles and, yes, they’re entitled to grumble about squeezed wages, worse pensions and the lack of respect shown by Conservative Ministers but they never, ever take it out on the kids.

 

Can you name the Tory Education Secretary? I’ll give you a few paragraphs to remember his name but don’t feel you’ve failed if you don’t because the fact he’s such an unknown Minister is further evidence of the low value put on education by a Conservative Government which pays lip service to learning instead of putting money where its mouth is.

 

Public spending’s about choices and priorities, culling education the ultimate false economy when it shapes our youth, provides them with opportunities and helps them take control of their lives.

 

I’ve long wondered if more Tory Ministers and MPs had studied at state schools and sent their own children to the schools used by the vast majority of the country whether they’d display more commitment. 

Maybe not, perhaps so.

 

What’s clear is the playing field is becoming more uneven, tilted against kids from working and middle class homes, when Government spending per pupil is little more than a third of the average fees exceeding £17,000 a year charged by the private sector.

 

The name of the Education Secretary? Damian Hinds. Go to the top of the class if you knew. If you didn’t, don’t give yourself detention. You are with the many not the few.

Meet your MP

 Stephen-Hepburn-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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