MATTHEW HANCOCK: A month of exciting changes

Column by Matthew Hancock MP
Column by Matthew Hancock MP
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A British September often signifies the end of summer. Autumn looms and winter lurks round the corner.

But September is also a month of exciting change. Children go back to school, parents breathe a sigh of relief and teachers return raring to go for the new term ahead.

Back to school this September was a particularly exciting time here in West Suffolk.

Pupils returned to Suffolk schools high on their brilliant achievements from August’s exam results and a new secondary school opened in Ixworth for up to 600 students.

I was delighted this summer to see the excellent results the Suffolk academies achieved in both GCSEs and A-levels. At Mildenhall Academy, 67 per cent of their A-level students gained A* to C grades and at Newmarket Academy every pupil made their first choice university. There were also fantastic results across the board in Haverhill at Castle Manor Academy and Samuel Ward.

I am proud to represent these young people in Government and I want to ensure they are always given every opportunity to reach their full potential.

Ixworth Free School, under headteacher Nikola King, opened its doors for the first time at the beginning of this month. Based on the former site of Ixworth Middle School, the school is non-selective, all-ability founded by Seckford Trust. Every school’s success is built on the dedication of its pupils, teachers and parents and I look forward immensely to seeing the brilliant things Ixworth can achieve. A huge amount of hard work has gone into forming the school and it is this sort of firm commitment to the education of children that encourages young people to succeed and excel.

Not only do we begin the term with a new school in Suffolk, but we begin, as do school children across the country, with a brand new curriculum from the Department of Education.

This new curriculum, based on evidence from high- performing countries, has made major changes to all subjects for five to 14 year olds in England.

It emphasises a body of core knowledge in key subjects which employers and universities value. It places special importance on reading, writing and maths at primary school, as well as a brand new computing curriculum which has been designed in collaboration with the IT industry. This means, for the first time, young people will have the chance to study programming, an essential tool for anyone wanting to work in the modern digital economy. We’re now expecting more of pupils because we want them to have the best possible start in life.

We must continue to fight for the highest standard of education in West Suffolk and drive up expectation to ensure every child, whatever their background, is given the best possible chance to succeed.