Improving Education Standards

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 1:27 pm on 29th November 2018.

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Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough 1:27 pm, 29th November 2018

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for intervening in such a friendly way. The rapping teacher is clearly able to speak in whole finished paragraphs, while I am barely able to articulate a sentence.

I really just wanted to say that Kevin Conway was an inspiration to me and really did amazing things for the town of Huddersfield—Mr Sheerman was briefly here a moment ago, but has had to go—through his uncompromising approach. He did not have an ideological approach; it was just an insistence on very high standards. Through that great work, he really did change the lives of a lot of people.

Let us move on from the debacle of my attempt to pay tribute to my old principal to a point of policy and boring stuff that I can talk about without welling up. When one visits technical colleges, one always sees the potential. I was in South Leicestershire College just the other day visiting the public services class—the wonderful young people who are going to go off and become firefighters and police officers.

The Government should look again at the whole issue of GCSE resits in FE colleges, because the move to FE and a more work-like environment—I particularly like apprenticeships, but FE is also an important part of the mix—is such an important part of the process for young people who perhaps did not get on with school. These people may have felt like it was not for them and that they were not achieving. The thought behind it was right—that everyone needs a basic grounding in English and maths—but I increasingly think that the GCSE is just not the right thing. Almost everybody who fails it a first time goes on to fail it a second time, and that is very discouraging for young people. It is not the right qualification to ask them to do. Instead, we should look at offering some kind of “maths and English for the citizen” type of qualification.