Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 10th January 2018

Education is at the heart of how we build a better society. By giving young people the skills and personal development they need to get on in the world we not only improve their chances of success, but provide the country with the citizenry it needs to move forward economically and socially.

Unfortunately, for all their talk, the Government is letting children, parents and the country down when it comes to education. This is in no way the fault of the teachers, who do an amazing job delivering for their children no matter what obstacles seem to be put in their way.

It’s the fault of a Tory administration which has chosen to take money which should have been spent improving local schools and instead wasted it on a series of ideologically-driven experiments. Given that Crawley was the first town in the country to have a Free School fail, we’ve seen the consequences of failure more closely than most.

That school funding has got so bad that headteachers are forced to beg parents for donations of essential items like toilet roll and textbooks is a national disgrace. While the risk of a four day week caught parents’ attention, the reality is that schools are already having to significantly increase class sizes and decrease the range of subjects they teach, limiting the range of opportunities available to schoolkids.

Local Tories have tried to blame the National Funding Formula, arguing that new changes will result in more money for local schools, but even the revised formula won’t match the increasing costs Crawley’s schools are facing as a result of rising inflation.

If we want a decent education system fit for the Twenty-First Century we need fundamental change to the way schools are funded and governed. Labour would put investment back into schools, ensuring kids get the quality education we need for a modern workforce. We would restore school accountability to thr local community and make them more inclusive, allowing towns like Crawley to resolve the issues with social mobility which have held too many local children back for far, far too long.

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