As the summer holidays draw to a close, attention turns to a new school term and, for some pupils, a new chapter in their education or employment.
With that in mind nervous pupils, parents and schools across my Bury St Edmunds constituency have been receiving their A-level and GCSE results over the last few weeks, with excellent results and improvements across the board.
Schools in the constituency are in an enviable position. The majority (80%) of all schools are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, up 5% from 2014 and this has been reflected in the results achieved. Schools both in my constituency and across Suffolk, report improved results on their own performances, and those compared to the rest of the country. For instance, some of the top schools reported an average 83% pass rate for A* to C A-Level results, compared to 77% across the country. In addition, across Suffolk, there was a 4% increase above the threshold for GCSE students in English and Maths. However, this in no way underestimates the hard work and effort that this takes, both from young people and from those that teach them. While sitting on the Higher Education and Research Bill in the forthcoming session of Parliament, I will be particularly mindful of last month’s results.
For the Bill, among other things, intends to drive forward teaching and research through the creation of new regulatory bodies. In particular, a new Teaching and Excellence Framework will be created to allow parity between teaching and research. Our very own new University of Suffolk, with a campus in Bury, is already using innovative methods to deliver higher education learning. It has both members of the LEP and the local authority on its board and talks to further education providers, schools and businesses about how to fill the gaps, for example, in IT and engineering, and how to boost productivity.
Furthermore, this Bill has the potential to drive forward a closer relationship between further education and business, something I am keen to see. Only last week, I spoke to a business in Bury St Edmunds that is taking on school leavers to train as accountants. Businesses are looking for skills at all stages of people’s education and, in order to build these up, they must communicate more with the higher and further education sectors about their needs. That is what I want to see this Bill deliver and, highlighting my Bury St Edmunds schools that are already driving up standards, I intend to push this forward on Parliament’s return next week.
In the meantime, as I assist one of my daughters who is embarking on her university career, I extend my best wishes to all students taking that nervous next step in their own educational futures.
-- Jo Churchill is MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket