This week's article looks back over the summer and the spotlight on education...
This week marked the end of Parliamentary recess and I, like my fellow MPs, made my way back to Westminster for the beginning of the new session. There was a definite back to school feel about the place.
At the same time, many parents around the country could be heard breathing a sigh of relief that the summer holidays are over and it’s back to the familiarity of packed lunches, lost book bags and endless searches for school shoes as you’re trying to race out the door.
This summer we have heard a lot about education.
At the very start of the summer holidays Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, announced her plans to crack down on low value degrees. I wrote about this at the time as I totally agree that those investing in a university degree should in return receive quality teaching that will set them up for whatever career they choose to follow.
Then in August we had the announcements of GSCE, A Levels and T level results.
There were many things to celebrate with these results. Amazing tales of students who had secured a clean sweep of grade 9s. Students who had surprised themselves with doing way better than expected, which had opened up new doors for further study.
Overall, what was encouraging to see was an excellent pass rate, similar to pre pandemic levels. Even more encouraging was the uptick in the number of students sitting core subjects, foreign languages and computer science.
A levels were a similar story in terms of attainment levels. And there was much to celebrate with the nearly 400,000 students sitting vocational qualifications now including T levels.
Let’s not forget that these students have lived through the pandemic, had their education disrupted and have come out the other side ready for the next challenge, whether that be further study, higher technical qualifications or apprenticeships. My congratulations to everyone who received their results this summer and I do hope you all feel incredibly proud of what you have achieved.
There is no doubt in my mind that modern apprenticeships are coming of age. Now at multiple levels and no longer associated only with certain sectors, these ‘earn while you learn’ qualifications offer a really great route. Degree-level apprenticeships have very high rates of employability on completion and can take your earnings after five years significantly beyond those of a university graduate.
Apprenticeships have opened up opportunities for students who may never have considered themselves as traditional university students. They are a fantastic addition to our offer to young people.
As we return to Parliament, the spotlight is on education once more but this time our attention has been turned to the buildings rather than the students. At the time of writing this column, I am not aware of any schools in East Hampshire being affected by RAAC closures and I hope that remains the case.
It’s worth remembering that there are over 21,000 schools in England, and less than 1 percent are known to be affected by RAAC.