Quite rightly, all parents want an excellent local school for their child. All our children deserve an education which will develop their full potential and give them the best start in life. We have some great schools in Stockport, with talented, hardworking staff, supportive parents and governors, and children eager to learn.
March 1 was secondary school places day, in Stockport and around the country. The day that parents find out if their child has got a place at their chosen school. Although there are enough school places to provide a place for every child in the borough, unfortunately, this year many parents and children were disappointed to discover they had not got a place at their preferred local secondary school. Some did not get the offer of a place at any of the three schools of their choice.
The pressure on school places, which has been growing in primary schools in recent years, has now reached our secondary schools, some of which are full to bursting. To expand or build new schools needs capital investment from the government. The government is only willing to make this available for free schools and grammar schools. This is not helpful to Stockport parents who want their child to go to their local school. Another issue is the funding of existing schools.
This week I met a group of Stockport Headteachers to listen to their concerns about the shortage of school places. Parents and teachers are worried that the level of funding, including support for children who have special educational needs, is just not keeping pace with rising costs. And many of our school buildings are in poor condition, with a backlog of renovation or upgrading work amounting to many millions of pounds.
The Budget last week did not give that extra funding needed for our children’s education. I visit Stockport schools regularly and they are impressive – and when I listen to the children I feel proud of their achievements. They are our future. They deserve our support and that means more investment in education.