Eastwood schools quiz Shadow Education Secretary

Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero introduced Tristram Hunt to head teachers
Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero introduced Tristram Hunt to head teachers

Labour’s chief of schooling met local heads for two quizzing sessions at Selston High School, Chapel Road, and Hillocks Primary School, Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Every head teacher from primary, infant and secondary schools in the constituency was invited to the events by local MP Gloria De Piero, on Wednesday, March 4.

The school leaders discussed a range of educational issues including how to get top quality teachers into tough schools, supporting teachers under ever increasing stress, reducing the numbers leaving the profession, class sizes and the rigours of Ofsted.

Mr Hunt also heard reports that since the introduction of universal free school meals some schools had actually found it harder to get the full pupil premium as parents needed to register for free school meals.

At Selston High, secondary school bosses brought up concerns over exam reforms, university, apprenticeships and his vision for guaranteeing local kids go on to achieve what they are capable of.

Teachers told the two politicians that they felt the current level of tuition fees made some students feel university wasn’t for them.

Mr Hunt said the Labour party has already announced it will be cutting tuition fees to £6,000 from £9,000 if elected on May 7th - paid for by ending tax breaks on savings and pensions.

He added: “The fear of excessive debt was potentially putting off bright working class kids going to university and we want to see more bright working class kids going to university from places like Ashfield and Eastwood and so it was good to hear from heads they regarded the policy as potentially helpful for that.”

Ms De Piero said: “I believe our promise will make a difference to lots of families and kids in our area and our head teachers are already making a huge difference here too. It’s great to know they are already encouraging students by taking them to visit universities on trips and inviting speakers in to help inspire them – all of which helps make university feel a little less unfamiliar.”

“After getting Tristram here and chatting to the local teachers it filled me with a great sense of optimism. Between them they are determined to make sure every student goes as far as they can – whether that be university or a high quality apprenticeship and a job for those that choose a different route.”

As the election edges ever closer the Labour Party’s education policies were put under the microscope, including proposals to cap class sizes for five, six and seven year olds at no larger than 30.

A spokesperson for Ms De Piero said: “This is in response to figures that show the number of the youngest children taught in classes larger than 30 has trebled under the current Government’s watch.”

“Mr Hunt has pledged to protect the entire education budget instead of going ahead with the Tories’ plan for education cuts, ensure that all teachers become properly qualified, raise school standards with new Directors of School Standards and make sure all young people study English and maths to age 18.”

Conservative candidate for Ashfield Helen Harrison said: “All the evidence shows that more people from less well off backgrounds are going to university and expecting more from their university education. Students only begin to pay back their fees once they are earning over £21,000. If they never achieve this they won’t pay a penny back. There is still financial help available for the very poorest students making it a fair system for everyone. It can’t be right that those who end up earning the most have their university fees subsidised by those who earn far less.”