I write this week, just before our schools break up for the summer holiday, at the end of the academic year - I want to take the opportunity to thank all the people who work so hard to teach our children and wish them a well-earned break.
I know the last few years have not been easy and it is a tribute to the dedication and hard work of staff and pupils that, despite all the difficulties, our schools and the children in them continue to thrive.
Last week, my team and I said farewell to two pupils from the Blue School who had joined me for work experience, spending three days in Westminster and two days in the constituency. I was thoroughly impressed by how they conducted themselves, their thoughtful consideration of far from straightforward issues, the seemingly fearless way they threw themselves into their roles and the hard work required. They are a credit to the school and I hope they gained as much from their experience as I did from meeting them.
My experience with these two pupils matches what I see when I visit schools around the patch – Head Teachers, of schools of every size from the Blue School to the smallest village primaries, have a can do attitude and are determined to do the best they can for the children at their schools. This is transmitted to the staff – not just teachers but all the other roles that are vital to the running of a school – and from them to the pupils themselves.
I am pleased that the government has accepted the pay recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review body – it would not have been right, after years of claiming that we had to follow its findings, to say that this year we were not going to do so and it is right that, as the Unions have accepted, the pay increases are funded and have not asked schools to find savings from budgets already stretched by inflation and the substantial increases to the local authority’s de-delegated budget.
Our schools are not perfect – in particular the county’s SEND provision is still not at the standard it needs to be – but they do a fantastic job and I hope everyone involved with them has the fantastic summer break that they have well and truly earned.