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Department for Education

Part of Supplementary Estimate 2018-19 – in the House of Commons at 4:08 pm on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Conservative, Colchester 4:08 pm, 26th February 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. He reads my mind, because I was just about to say that we need a long-term plan for education and schools, in the same way that we have one for our NHS. This is absolutely the right thing to do, because teachers and headteachers need that certainty and consistency. We also need to ensure that mental and physical health services are adequately resourced.

I genuinely believe that we are on the precipice. The vast majority of any school budget—anywhere between 80% and 90%—is spent on people. They are the asset in our education system. If there is no more fat to trim, the only place left to go is to reduce staff, and that will have a detrimental impact on pupils’ attainment and, indeed, outcomes across the board. There are already schools in Colchester that are letting support staff go and not filling vacancies. My fear is that if that continues, we will start to see a decline in results.

I wholeheartedly believe that education is at the heart of equality of opportunity. I believe in social mobility, and education is its key enabler. Education is an investment in our people. I will continue to lobby for additional funding for education and ask that the education budget is increased in all the areas I have mentioned ahead of the next spending review.