Shadow Education Secretary Bridget sets out mantra

It’s hard to imagine now that the mantra of Tony Blair’s government was once, ‘Education, Education, Education’.

A recent survey reveals that two thirds of schools in England are facing budget deficits which will lead to staff cuts and reductions in other services, including mental health support.

Too many of our children aren’t getting the best start in life and childcare in Britain is now more expensive than many mortgages.

Labour has chosen Sunderland MP, Bridget Phillipson, as Shadow Education Secretary to spearhead our new approach. She was born into a single parent family in the Northeast and describes childhood as growing up in poverty but with a loving mam. She went on to win a place at Oxford. She knows decent, affordable childcare is essential for working parents and their children.

She’s under no illusions about the task ahead or the economic circumstances Labour will inherit and has her eye on tax breaks enjoyed by private schools as one source of funding. With so much need, she asks, if this is a luxury we can afford?

Her first ambition is a breakfast club in every primary school so that teachers can be confident that children they’re hoping to teach, start the day with something in their stomach. She wants to go further and encourage a network of state nurseries. They were once considered the crown in Britain’s early years provision, but austerity has taken its toll and fewer than 400 now survive.

During a recent visit to Estonia, she discovered that children from age 18 months are guaranteed a place in a state-run nursery until starting school at 7. Estonia achieves better outcomes in maths, reading and science than we do. Our government offers 30 hours free childcare but only from age 3 and additional support for working parents, in receipt of Universal Credit, but it’s difficult to claim and often causes them to run up debts, resulting in a lost nursery place and with that, their job.

Bridget Phillipson is determined that, starting with the early years, education will once again become the mantra of Labour in government.

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