Ranil Jayawardena MP Opinion Piece—July 2018

I care passionately about education and schools in North East Hampshire. As you may know, I grew up here and I was lucky to get a good education in local state schools—at Hook Infants, Hook Juniors and at Robert May’s in Odiham.

I have been working hard to make sure that every child in my constituency can get the best start in life; where the school they go to will suit their needs, capabilities and talents. I want to give all children the opportunities I had, regardless of where they live, or who their parents are. This is core to my mission in public service and I know that there is much more to do.

While I appreciate that ever more money could be spent on education and used well, I hope you’d agree that, as your Member of Parliament, I have fought for our local community and the new, fairer National Funding Formula has moved funding in the right direction. At the point of the last General Election, I’d secured £1.1 million extra per annum for local schools—this now stands at £3.5 million extra per annum for schools in my constituency.

This is a record on which I am happy to be judged, partly because I know there is always more to do. I have a record of action. School funding debates only deal with the here and now, however. Though important, we must plan for the future too.

People tell me that they want new infrastructure to help our communities cope with new homes; they tell me that our schools are full and shouldn’t be continually expanded as they’ll get too big and lose their identities.

The solution to this quandary is a new school. We are lucky in Hook and surrounds that our local schools perform better than so many in the wider area, but that’s a problem too—there are many in the wider area that don’t perform well enough. That’s why a new school is a good idea twice over—new places that are much needed and parental choice to make sure that all children can access a good education—the education you’d expect for your children and grandchildren here.

All new schools are set up as Academies—also known as ‘free schools’—which have been a huge success story over the last eight years; allowing parents and others to set up new schools, giving choice to constituents and driving up standards for, not only pupils in those free schools, but in neighbouring schools also. This is a bold step for North East Hampshire and it is what I believe is necessary.

I am pleased, therefore, to have launched a public consultation for my constituents—and those across north Hampshire—to fight the fight for more school places and more choice alongside me. With you on board, we can deliver a better education for all local children—so please visit my website, ranil.uk/school to complete the consultation yourself, then share it with your friends and family.