When parliament goes into recess for August I have to admit it is amazing! It’s the only time of the year I get to spend 100% of the time here in our community. I only left Hove for four days over the whole summer, it was heaven!!
Being around so much gives me the chance to really catch up on things right across Hove and Portslade. In this update I’ll just mention our schools because I took the opportunity to visit loads of our schools and listen to students, teachers and staff about what is really going on.
Last week I went to Portslade Aldridge Community Academy and spent time being quizzed by students. So often I hear adults saying that young people aren’t interested in politics and issues, it drives me crazy! At PACA I was fired really tough questions on education, Brexit and what it’s like being an MP.
It was unusual though, because normally when I meet students they don’t ask me about education! Normally it’s about other issues facing our community, country, and often the planet itself.
Earlier this year I bumped into the new chief inspector of our schools. Ofstedcomes in for a lot of criticism, often rightly so. I’ve seen both sides of the coin because when I was chair of a local school we had some brilliant inspections – still terrifying of course, but the results genuinely helped us to improve the school – and one terrible one where I launched a complaint afterwards.
Anyway, the chief inspector, Amanda Speilman, offered to meet for a coffee to talk about my experiences with Ofsted and I agree with one conditions: that we meet in Hove at one of our local schools. So I took Amanda to Blatchington Mill School where we talked to teachers and spent quality time with students. It was fascinating.
This was before the chief inspector made some comments about exam results not being affected by cuts, which of course I take real issue with. Cuts have affected many different aspects of school life, especially those needing the added support of a teaching assistant and teh almost total loss of languages, music, and sport from the curriculum.
But Ofsted has suffered huge cuts too, half of it’s budget. A good inspection regime helps schools improve and gives parents confidence to parents. We’re in danger of loosing the integrity of our inspection regime at the moment because schools are not being inspected often enough and many inspections are rushed. I know that Ofsted raises high emotions from people involved in education, but whatever way we have of inspecting schools we must have a regulator that has enough resources to do the job.
I wanted to point this out because it’s an aspect of educational cuts and reforms that isn’t talked about. I am a passionate supporter of Save Our Schools and also trying my best to fight for all aspects of the educational system.
Right now we’re in danger of letting down an entire generation of young people, I for one will fight against that with every breath.
I want to thank every student, school, and teacher I met this summer. I started off at Hove Park School in July and worked my way around as many as possible. And also to Amanda Speilman, the chief inspector, it was good of her to come to Hove and allow me to show off our local students and schools to her and also quiz her myself on the challenges we face in education. For me, spending time listening to as many people as possible is really important.
All the best, Peter