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Schools: Reforms — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:29 pm on 29th January 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Perry of Southwark Baroness Perry of Southwark Conservative 4:29 pm, 29th January 2015

My Lords, I begin by thanking all noble Lords who have taken part in what I think has been an extremely interesting and very positive debate, with an especial thank you to my noble friend, whose summary has been superb. She has managed to cover so many topics covered in our debate and answered so many of the questions that she has been asked. I thank her very much for that.

I am particularly pleased that we have had the opportunity, from several parts of the House, to pay tribute to our great educational reformers, the noble

Lords, Lord Baker and Lord Adonis, and, in the other House, the right honourable Michael Gove. I am also pleased that we have heard so much from the people who are doing things on the ground—such as my noble friend Lord Harris, whose work in his academies has been an example to the whole nation of what can be achieved by an absolute determination to raise the standards of young people. I was fortunate enough to be a trustee of his first city technology college, and I remember his moving determination that no child in south London should have to put up with a second-class or even third-class education, but should achieve the maximum that they were capable of.

I was also moved by the story from my noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott. As she said, I have been even more moved by meeting the young people who have been helped by her astonishing programme to turn their lives around from failure and distress to success and an occupation that they chose freely for themselves.

The other theme that I would like to mention—I am delighted it has come through from so many different speakers today—is that of vocational education. It is more than time that we recognised that half our young people are simply not motivated towards, and will not succeed in, academic education. Any attempt to track them and sausage-machine them into academic life is deeply unsupportive of their wishes and motivations. They are not people who are substandard and somehow not quite clever enough to do academic work; they are often extremely clever and intelligent young people who are motivated in the technical and vocational field. As that has come through so strongly from our debate, I hope that the Government will now embrace it and think even further about it.

Finally, I am deeply grateful to everyone who has taken part in what I think has been an extremely useful, in many cases, revealing, and, by and large, not too controversial debate.

Motion agreed.