In My View - 2nd May 2019

This springtime a key part of my focus is on education and skills training having recently been elected Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education, and I feel very positive about the opportunities that we can build on in Somerset. I started the week by chairing a seminar at the Westminster Education Forum on implementing the T-Level programme, looking at content, regulation and assessment. Technical Levels should be perfect for our part of the world with so many links to jobs and training opportunities in engineering, medicine and other similar fields.

Yeovil College were unlucky not to be one of the first set of institutions rolling out the courses but should be involved soon, particularly following their successful joint bid to be recognised as an Institute of Technology, as well as their excellent apprenticeships offering and links to local employers.

Straight afterwards I raised T-Levels in the House of Commons to ask Schools Minister Nick Gibb for confirmation of available funding including capital funding related to the roll out. I have also set up a meeting to discuss school funding with Treasury Minister Liz Truss next week.

I am in touch with a number of local schools about their funding requirements and will keep relaying those to the Government at every opportunity. One theme that keeps coming up though is that more is being asked of our schools in terms of children’s overall welfare, such as encouraging a healthy diet and offering additional services such as health and well-being workshops for parents. As part of supporting our schools and teachers it is important to consider why this is the case and what can be done to better equip parents to meet these needs.

I will raise Early Years funding with Ms Truss too, and speak to the County Council, in view of the need for better hourly rates for Government funded hours so as to make really high quality nursery places available in our less well off areas. I was very impressed by the offer at Tops Nursery which I officially opened on Friday. It is a great facility for the area around St Michael’s Avenue in Yeovil.

It wouldn’t be spring without my traditional mention of the Abbey Hill Steam Rally which is on at the Yeovil Showground over Friday and the long weekend. I’ll be there on Saturday and it really is a great day out. This will be the Show’s 39th year and full details are available at their website

Today is local election day for South Somerset District Council. Obviously I know who I shall be voting for but this is not a campaigning column. I am full of admiration though for the amazing dedication and hard work of so many people that contribute to our local democracy. Having been a Councillor I know the commitment involved. Local services such as planning and recycling have a big effect on our quality of life and I would encourage everyone to get out and vote today.

As always, to get in touch about these issues, if I can help with a problem or to book an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries please email or call 01935314321.