This week in Parliament it was a real privilege to welcome the children of Ravensthorpe Primary School and answer their questions and concerns. I was incredibly impressed at the maturity of their questions and ideas which encompassed a wide variety of policy areas, including climate change and education in particular, writes Lisa Forbes, MP for Peterborough.
The eagerness and enthusiasm with which they asked their questions is testament to how naturally inquisitive and thirsty for knowledge children are, which is why I am concerned that children like them all across Peterborough are being held back from reaching their full potential.
There were a great number of factors that motivated me to stand for Parliament, but above many of those was the impact that this government’s cuts to school funding is having on the education of our children.
The reality is that those cuts have real consequences and nowhere is this felt more strongly in our community than in our schools. Since 2015 this Tory government has slashed funding at 62 schools in Peterborough, resulting in up to £22 million less being invested into our children’s education. This is just unacceptable.
This comes at a time when the country is experiencing a school-places crisis which will be an all too familiar story for many parents across Peterborough who are struggling to place their children in local schools. As a growing city, with one of the highest birth rates in the country, the situation isn’t going to solve itself. With ever-increasing class sizes, the case for more resources, not less, and new schools in our city has never been greater.
In addition to the demand for new schools, there are grave concerns being raised about existing provisions. The National Education Union has reported that 70 per cent of school buildings are inadequate. A secure and stable school environment is critical to ensuring our children get a decent education.
This week the latest reports published by Ofsted make for difficult reading for Peterborough parents as the number of schools rated “Good” or “Outstanding” has fallen in the last year. This only confirms what many of us have known for a long time - our schools are struggling to cope as they are under-resourced and under pressure.
The Peterborough Telegraph have consistently reported on the crisis facing schools in our city and I sympathise with the parents of Peterborough who simply want the best possible opportunities available for their children.
I will not stand by while teachers are being pushed to breaking point and forced to leave their profession, school staff are cut and class sizes continue to grow, depriving children of interaction with their teachers.
This is why I’ll be joining Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner, in calling for a National Education Service that gives our children the best possible start in life and will allow them to reach their full potential. In Parliament, I will be challenging this government’s failure on education at every opportunity because the next generation is our future, and they deserve the best start in life that we can provide them with.