Ensuring the best start in life for our children

Dear Editor,

I am very pleased to join the Council Leader in congratulating Merton’s secondary schools on being ranked ‘top of the class’ for young people’s academic progress from age 11 (‘Schools best in country for progress of pupils’, 26 October 2017). It is terrific news for the thousands of children attending our secondary schools over the next few years. Most of all, this achievement is a great credit to the hard work of all the teachers, staff, governors, council officers, parents and of course the pupils themselves.

It wasn’t always so however. Only through a sustained focus on raising standards by successive administrations has this success come about. A big change was the introduction of sixth forms into all of Merton’s secondary schools by the last Conservative administration. This has attracted  a raft of talented teachers to the borough who wish to teach A-level classes but whose skills and experience also benefit our GCSE cohorts.

The government has played a vital role too by giving schools more power over their curriculum, staffing and budgets to do what’s right for their pupils. As a result there are now 1.8 million more pupils nationwide being taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010.

The Government has also listened to our calls for increased funding for local schools. Together with local MP Stephen Hammond, we welcome July’s announcement of a £1.3billion boost to the core schools budget and the Government’s commitment to increase the overall schools budget by £4billion by 2022. This constitutes the biggest increase in school funding for over a decade and means an increase in the amount that every pupil, and every school, in Merton receives. Under this new funding formula, councils have a vital role to play in passing on the promised cash increase to schools and my Conservative colleagues and I are pushing Labour-run Merton to ensure this actually happens.

Families in Merton rightly expect the best education for their children. Things are moving in the right direction but now it is important to create more outstanding schools in the borough and to raise standards across the board. Merton Conservatives want to see every child attend an outstanding school – because just good is not good enough for our children.  

We have a clear plan to deliver this ambitious target and, if given the chance next May, we will work with schools, governors and parents to implement it.

Cllr James Holmes

Merton Conservatives Education Spokesman