Last night I chaired my last meeting as chair of governors of a local school. I can’t tell you how emotional I found it.
I’ve had the privilege of being a small part the team at BACA, in Falmer, since the very first meeting to discuss how to improve educational opportunities there six years ago.
Since that time more that £40 million has been invested into state-of-the-art facilities and new buildings and exam results have increased by well over 120%. The school has moved from special measures, to ‘requires improvement’, and recently to ‘good’ at Ofsted.
But most amazing and profoundly moving for me has been the attitude and dedication of students themselves to this journey. The pride in themselves as well as the school is palpable, even Ofsted inspectors mentioned it. The commitment to learning and to enjoying the social and sporting opportunities in a great school like BACA is opening up all sorts of new possibilities for young people.
And from my perspective, I’m really proud that we’ve done all this by remaining fully comprehensive. The allocation os students is within the local authority control and we’re still within the national teachers pay bargaining system. BACA is living proof that fantastic comprehensive education is the best, most effective, way of delivering first rate learning for everyone in society whatever their background.
No-one who visits BACA could ever come away thinking that grammar schools are the answer!
In the last year our cricket academy opened which will provide world-class sporting facilities and training, and soon our construction academy will go live with a new building to allow students to learn the specialist technical crafts needed in the construction industry. From elite sports to vocational training, a school like this gives every pathway into work, every student, equal pride and prestige. I think by now you can see why I’m so emotional about what has been achieved here.
This has been the most rewarding voluntary role I’ve ever had. Working alongside so many stunningly professional teachers and staff has shown me first hand just how hard they work, how dedicated they are, and that you can never ‘do’ education to a young person, you have to inspire them to do it for themselves.
I’ve worked with three principals and each has taught me a great deal about leadership too. Last night I stood down having worked alongside Dylan Davies as principal for three years. I leave thinking how lucky students are to have him and his team to guide them through these difficult stages in a young person’s life. Aldridge Education have proven an incredible partner too, we’re so lucky as a city to have them.
Being chair of governors is a huge amount of work, but I couldn’t give it up because I love the school so much! I urge you to think about getting involved in your local school too, it’s hard work but rewarding and really does make a difference.
After six years its time for the BACA to move forward with new energy as they move closer with PACA and other schools in the area. But students and staff will always, always, be able to count on me to cheer them on, champion them in any way I can, because I am their number one fan and always will be!
As you’ll know, I’ve championed comprehensive education since the day I went to parliament. I sat on the Education Bill committee, spoke in numerous debates, and at all times used this frontline experience of school improvement so it had a voice in parliament. I’m working hard in this election so it’s a voice for education and young people that will speak loud in the next parliament too. Thanks so much for reading, as you can see this has been an important update for me to talk about.