Education has always been one of my top priorities and passions.
It was the topic of my maiden speech given that it is the building block for the future of our children. I am delighted to have just been made a Minister within the department.
I have spoken numerous times about the local skills gap which incentivised me to organise a couple of Wiltshire Festival of Engineering, Design and Technology events. I have campaigned for more funding into education and for us to get our fair share, especially funding for our schools, teachers’ pay and special educational needs.
There is no single issue that I have called more meetings on, spent more time lobbying for or made more proposals for than education, particularly education spending. When the leadership contest was taking place, I used it as an opportunity to press all of the candidates to make pledges on education spending. I even went so far as to provide the candidates with some of the comments that teachers from Wiltshire have emailed to me, along with my proposals for how their concerns can be addressed with the help of extra funding.
I am delighted to say that my campaigning for more funding has paid off and the Prime Minsiter has announced an ambitious extended funding package for our schools. The boost to schools will be an extra £14billion, levelling up per pupil funding across the country so every child has a world class education. Additionally, we have also pledged to meet the £4.5billion requirement for teachers’ pensions from outside the education budget. This means that every penny of the extra £14billion will go straight to schools and delivering the best educational outcomes for our children.
The changes will ensure that every school will get a real terms funding rise next year. So every secondary school will receive an increased minimum of £5,000 per pupil next year. Every primary school will get a minimum of £3,750 from 2020-21 and £4,000 per pupil from 2021-22.
Crucially there will be £700million extra for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in 2020-21, so every pupil can access the education that is right for them, and none are held back from reaching their potential.
It is also very good news for Wiltshire College because further education and sixth form colleges will receive £400million additional funding to train and teach our young people the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy. They will also get an extra £100m to fund the extra pensions provision which this year they had to fund from existing budgets.
Good teachers transform lives and it is imperative that we raise the status of teaching to reflect this and ensure we can continue to recruit some of the best and brightest, as well as keep them. The announcement that teachers will now be paid at least £30,000 following a £6,000 pay rise for new starters will make a difference and is something I have pushed hard for over the years.
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