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It is a great pleasure to participate in this Queen’s Speech debate and to follow Steve McCabe. Although I could not agree with a word he said, it was a good story.
I warmly welcome the content of the Queen’s Speech, which has a strong emphasis on the people’s priorities. Of course Brexit is paramount and needs to be implemented, but the provision of public services—health, education and policing—is vital to the people of our country, whatever part of the country they live in. It is right to concentrate on these, as the Government have done in the Queen’s Speech.
I want to concentrate on education. I was privileged to have a good state education, and subsequently to be a teacher and a lecturer, so I have seen education from both sides, as a worker within it and as a student. I passionately believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life, regardless of their background or where they live, and that access to good schools is essential to building the foundations of success in later life.
While the shadow Education Secretary’s speech was powerful in performance, it lacked constructive content. It retained the old-fashioned Labour approach of putting ideology before children’s education, though no mention was made of the fact that they want to abolish Ofsted, scrap the free schools programme and abolish independent schools. That was all lacking in her contribution. We should all be proud of what the coalition Government and this Government have done in education since 2010: not only are there more good or outstanding schools —the proportion is now 85%—but 1.9 million children are now in a good or outstanding school, and the attainment gap continues to narrow.