The Government has embarked upon the task of reforming childcare. It also needs to ensure every child is taught by an excellent teacher, says Lord Storey
‘We must care about the world of our children and grandchildren, a world we may never see’.
This sentiment from the great liberal thinker, the third Earl (Bertrand) Russell, will always ring true. We must relentlessly strive to become a society where education acts as a foundation upon which we build. We know that decisions made today will massively influence the lives and life chances of future generations. This is especially so in the realm of education.
Recently in my Queen’s Speech debate contribution I mentioned a number of educational issues that Liberal Democrats in Government are focusing on. In particular, the Children and Families Bill is an opportunity that only comes along once in a generation: it is a chance to improve the lives of children and families across the UK. I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this effort, and I looking forward to the valuable and constructive debate in the weeks ahead.
The Bill takes forward a range of commitments which are intended to improve services for key groups of young people: children in the adoption and care services, children affected by decisions from courts and tribunals, and children with special educational needs. These are the young people who demand our attention. These are the families we need to give an extra helping hand.
We are well aware that this Government has embarked upon the task of reforming childcare. It is a necessary undertaking and will, with Liberal Democrat influence, substantially increase the quality, affordability and accessibility of childcare. We have always known that a child’s early years are the most important for their own personal development. I would go further and suggest that all parents agree that childcare should be about providing qualified people who can help their children learn, play and grow in a safe environment.
But differently, our efforts to introduce a slimmed-down, draft curriculum will help young people get the most out of their schooling. It will mean that teachers can respond to local needs with personal expertise, allowing pupils’ interests to be placed centre-stage. Schools should be given more freedom – teachers shouldn’t be mandated by Whitehall mandarins. But at the same time the agenda of forced academisation, the rise of free schools with unqualified teachers and the reach of the so-called ‘national’ curriculum are muddying the waters. These are experiments which will only ‘diversify’, and not unite, our educators.
At Spring Conference, I moved the motion ‘every child taught by an excellent teacher’. As I said during my speech, the quality of the teacher is paramount to the child’s success. Teachers should be well trained, motivated, regarded and respected by every member of society – every child should receive an excellent education from an excellent teacher.
I hope, and indeed, believe that by the end of this Parliament we can come one step closer to creating that better world of education for our children, though it maybe a world we never see. Only when this is achieved can we truly say we have begun to make a difference.
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.