Education and learning is lifelong. Our children across Devon deserve the best and a choice of the best to suit their talents. That is why I championed and fought for our University Technical College. Technical skills are so important as we see from other countries. We have a strong aerospace, nuclear and smart engineering sector in the South West and yet we import skilled workers from outside the West Country. This is a missed opportunity for future generations. I am working with the UTC, local schools and Exeter University to rectify this.
Exeter University, a Russell Group member, is committed to delivering high quality technical education across the South West at secondary and primary school. The Innovation Centre at Exeter University is the best in the country, demonstrating exactly what good degree level technical training looks like. We want to translate that into secondary and primary education. Excellent technical training like this is good for Devon and good for Devon’s children and I am determined to deliver it.
Despite the region's historic underfunding, Devon’s academic results are good – but that has come at a huge price for our wonderful teachers. That must change. They need teaching assistants back. They need mental health support back, and our classrooms need some major capital investment. While I have successfully lobbied for three new school buildings much more remains to be done. Some are a disgrace – boilers not working, water coming in to classrooms, inadequate classroom space and equipment. That must change. Ofsted must change too to properly reflect these needs and the impact they have on education aspiration and morale. This is a fight I will continue to fight until we get results. We have already had some wins but much much more is needed.
More and more of our children have special education needs. Too many remain undiagnosed or unfunded as the barrier keeps getting harder to beat. The lack of local provision in Devon is recognised – but that isn’t good enough! We need the funding for local provision – and this is a fight I will keep fighting. I am really pleased at the new provision recently opened in Newton Abbot after much lobbying but more needs to be done.
What I Have Delivered So Far:
- Having lobbied the Secretary of State, schools in the constituency will see a 5.11% increase in per-pupil funding for the next 2 years.
- Lobbied the schools minister Nick Gibb along with members from the Devon Association of Primary Headteachers and Devon Association of Secondary Heads.
- Two new primary schools in Kingsteignton and Newton Abbot
- A commitment has been given by the Secretary of State to fairly fund our schools including Devon with a formula review by 2020
- The new University Technical College in Newton Abbot opened in September 2015
- New school space and classrooms have been built at Bradley Barton School in Newton Abbot
- Two new school sites have been approved for Kingsteignton
- Discussion is underway to expand school places in the Dawlish catchment area
- Coombeshead Academy has opened a new sixth form block and has received Government money to help make this and other projects within the school happen.
- Haytor Primary School has also successfully had an extension added increasing their capacity.