Local schools key to building an opportunity society for all

Alan Mak's visit to Mill Rythe School
Alan Mak's visit to Mill Rythe School
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Congratulations to our hard-working local students for their exam results – and to the teachers, support staff, governors and families who backed them.

Their success underlines an important point: our local schools and colleges are key to building a socially mobile opportunity society.

A society where everyone can fulfil their potential no matter their starting point in life is key to our area’s continued success.

Local trends are positive. Five years ago Havant Academy was, quite literally, a different school. Then called Staunton Community Sports College, just 10 per cent of pupils achieved the target measure of five GCSEs including English and Maths at grades A* to C.

It was renamed and refreshed with a multi-million pound refurbishment, and the transformation has ,under Principal Helen Cassady, been inspirational. This summer, 55 per cent of students achieved five good GCSEs.

Purbrook Park School received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted in May, South Downs College is a regional leader in vocational education, while Havant Academy, Oaklands and others continue to perform impressively.

Having visited every secondary school and sixth-form in the area, I know our teachers have high expectations of our students.

I have launched the Havant Education Leaders’ Forum (HELF) to bring together our heads and principals to work together and share ideas so we can keep this success going.

Having served as a primary school governor and trustee of Magic Breakfast, a charity that sets up children’s breakfast clubs, I’m mindful that strong primary schools also play a big role in giving our young people life chances.

Local primaries I’ve visited such as St James’ in Emsworth, Mill Rythe and Mengham understand that focusing on equipping pupils with strong basic skills – in literacy, numeracy and information technology gives them the best chance of success at secondary school and the world of work.

So too does an active extra-curricular and enrichment programme, whether that’s sports clubs, music or trips. I’ll be playing my part by inviting every primary school to bring groups of children to visit Parliament so they can learn more about Britain’s history and democracy. I’ve also co-founded a new Parliamentary group to lobby for more funding and resources for our schools in Hampshire.