I want to ensure that more children locally are being taught in 'good' or 'outstanding' schools and I am delighted that almost all schools across the Constituency are now rated as such. I have served as a school governor to two key local schools, supporting both through the Academy conversion process - with great success and I am pleased that continuing improvements will further lift local education standards and ensure that our young people have the skills that they need to succeed in life.
It is important to protect small, rural primary schools, the cornerstone of Wiltshire’s excellent education provision, and, I was very pleased to support everyone involved with Chirton Primary School when it was considered for closure. Chirton is a fantastic success story, now federated with All Cannings Primary School it is once again a thriving village school at the heart of its community. More recently I and other Parliamentary colleagues have raised our concerns about the possible impact on small primary schools of academy proposals and in response, the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon. Nicky Morgan MP provided welcome reassurance: there is already a statutory presumption against the closure of rural schools; and going forward, as such schools convert to become academies, a dual lock will be introduced to ensure their protection, whereby both local and national government will have to agree to a school closing before a decision can be made.
I have campaigned for a Fairer Funding formula for our schools and I am delighted that the Government is pushing ahead with its plans for a revised formula and also looking at the problem of school census data only being collated once a year which can be a real funding handicap for schools, especially those in military areas with high pupil turnover. Wiltshire Schools have for too long received far less per pupil than schools in other areas and I have campaigned since 2010 for this unjust anomaly to be addressed.
One of the most enjoyable part of my job as your MP is visiting our local schools. We usually have a ‘democracy assembly’ to give everyone a taste of the Westminster experience. We typically come up with a law that the children would like to see implemented or abolished, (abolishing homework and doing away with school uniform are favourite topics!) have a debate with me acting as a giant-sized Mr. Speaker and then put the question to a vote, complete with bellows of Aye! and No!