Stockport Express Column -September 2013

Congratulations to all the young people who opened their exam results on August 22nd and found to their relief that all the hard work had paid off. This time of year we experience the tension, and the delight, of both GCSE and A level results. I always look out for the results because I know how much they mean to young people and their families and teachers.

Stockport pupils overall have done very well again this year, with more than 65% getting five or more GCSE passes with good grades, including the all-important maths and English. Some pupils have an astounding clean sweep of A* grades, and some have achieved their exam success against all the odds, battling illness and disadvantage along the way.

It’s impossible to highlight all the achievements, but I was particularly pleased by Stockport Academy’s performance this year. The last Labour government created the Academies programme in areas of social disadvantage, backing the sponsors and their local communities with huge capital investment to create the best environment for learning. It is so satisfying to see that this investment has been worthwhile, with some outstanding GCSE results at Stockport Academy this year. A fantastic 89% of pupils achieved at least five A* to C grades in their exams, and there has been a big improvement in the science subjects. This is really positive and I do congratulate the Principal and his staff.

Exam success at age 16 also depends on the educational support which children receive much earlier in life – and even before they start school. I have always been a champion of the previous Labour government’s Sure Start programme, which was also set up first in areas of social disadvantage. The first two years of a child’s life have a huge impact on how well they do later in life. Children’s centres such as ABACUS in Stockport have really improved the life chances of some of our most vulnerable children by spotting developmental problems early and supporting parents who may be struggling, so that they can play a full part in their child’s education. This kind of early intervention must continue, despite the pressure from budget cuts, because this is an investment which really pays off in the future.

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