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I have never disagreed with my right hon. Friend yet and I do not now.
As a Member of Parliament, I am afraid of very little, but I still get nervous when I have to go and see local headteachers. I want to give the final words of my speech over to those headteachers. To begin with, Mark Whitehill, who is head of Gayton Primary School in Heswall, spoke this simple truth:
“If Education really is a priority, we need the staff to help us deliver it!”
Another brilliant head in my area, Catherine Kelly, agrees with that. She said that her job is about life chances, but colleagues whom she respects as fantastic educationists are talking about leaving the profession because, as heads, they are not focusing on the right things as they are having to balance the books and make ends meet. She said that they are
“invariably being set up to fail”.
She is frugal and knows that if the school is overstaffed, it is a waste of the students’ resources, so she would never make that happen. She says she is afraid that the Government “clearly doesn’t understand education”, which I believe is true.
The last word goes to David Hazeldine, a great head from Wirral, who says:
“The fundamental issue is that there is not enough money in the system. Teacher recruitment shortages and massive underfunding are placing children’s education and well-being at risk.”
He says that that is “creating a perfect storm”.
Those three heads have put it better than I ever could. I ask the Secretary of State to learn the lessons of schools in her own constituency and recognise that although money is not all that schools need, they cannot do without it if they want to give kids a chance.