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'Commons Sense': Adam Afriyie on improving education 

Adam Afriyie

'Commons Sense': Adam Afriyie on improving education 

Whenever I visit our schools and colleges across the constituency I’m incredibly impressed by the dedication of the teachers, parents and pupils alike.

Of course, all schools will face challenges from time to time, but across the constituency we have a range of schools with impressive track records and results.

Whilst things have been improving locally and nationally, as we move up the international league tables, we cannot rest on our laurels. There is always more to be done and always areas where we can improve outcomes for our children.

Indeed, across the country this week, we have had the head of Ofsted criticise schools which prioritise ‘gaming’ the league tables over providing a well-rounded education, and small businesses complaining they cannot afford to offer high quality apprenticeships whilst larger firms waster money on providing unnecessarily expensive courses to students who don’t need them. Meanwhile students’ perception of universities as being good value for money deteriorates by the day.

So, in Government, we have work to do to boost the range of high-quality education providers, and apprenticeships, so that parents and students can make informed choices about the route they pursue, both for academic qualifications and for employment skills.

I’d like to see top Russell Group universities competing fiercely with businesses across the country for talented school leavers, and parents have a wide range of specialist schools and colleges available to choose from for their children. The increased competition would compel education providers to up their game across the board.

And increased choice is a good way to help address the attainment gap so that pupils from poorer and disadvantaged backgrounds can do as well as their more privileged peers based on hard work and application.

As Conservatives it is never our aim to restrict choice but to create opportunity. Thankfully, when I put this to the Education Secretary in the Commons chamber this week, he wholeheartedly agreed.

So let’s continue to increase competition in education, with more free schools, better apprenticeships, wider access to universities and the new technical qualifications for sixth- formers.

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