It’s a credit to this newspaper that it has consistently reported Peterborough’s educational performance and the difficulties our schools are facing.
As has been stated, Peterborough finished second to last among authorities at the Key Stage 2 level: this was the same as the previous year.
Furthermore, the City Council sent letters to 14 schools (12 informal, 2 formal) regarding their performance. Moreover, Eye Church of England Primary School recently had their SATS results for English grammar, punctuation and spelling annulled, for reasons that remain unclear apart from a statement saying there was “maladministration”.
I recently campaigned with Dr Christian DeFeo, the local Labour candidate for Eye, Thorney and Newborough. He told me that parents in Eye had expressed their worries to him about this matter; the lack of transparency has only heightened their concerns.
Education is one of the most important public services: a child that is poorly educated will find that their prospects are limited. We have heard a number of pronouncements from the government about the “global race” we are in. But what can we have to offer the world if our people are not being prepared for the future? What if they are not given the tools to access their talents? We may not see the full effect of this on our country immediately, but nevertheless it will be felt: we must support our teachers and make our education top class so that we can pay our way in the world, and allow every child to achieve their potential. One of my frustrations of being in opposition is that I tell the government this; I relay the concerns of our fabulous teachers, working under difficult circumstances. Tell them about the effects of moving goalposts and the crippling effects of poorly thought through funding formulas.
However, bedazzled by ledgers, they are more likely to emphasise savings now over the long term. The problem is the long term is shorter than you may think: as we are embarked on a course that will mean greater exposure to the competitive forces of the international markets.
I doubt there will be a change of heart until there is a change of government. I will continue to argue in Westminster we need to look at education again. I will work with our councillors to do what we can to improve matters on a local level.
Education, like health, fly tipping, and housing is an issue upon which I will maintain a steady focus. After all, every year, we are passing more students through a system that is showing signs of deep strain.
The cost to students and our country of repairing a flawed education grows ever greater.
We need to do better and not wait for the government to be better to achieve it.