Over the past year, I have been pushing for a more equitable, diverse and honest education system. In particular, night schools represent an institution I care strongly about. On the 21st January 2019, I asked the following question in a Westminster Hall debate on College Funding:
Does my hon. Friend agree that we need to hear from the Government not about bringing back grammar schools, but about funding night schools? If, indeed, we exit from the European Union, should we not be giving people in our seaside towns, northern industrial areas and parts of London the skills to compete in the economy that we are going to have?
On the 6th December 2018, I gave a speech at the SSAT Conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Here, I spoke about the relationship between education and social mobility. I stressed that there is massive educational inequality, mirroring socio-economic inequality and tracking geographical divides. I argued that the government must do more to invest in our state-school system, particularly to address the Early Years Development Gap. Both schools and the state must be able to step in and provide a level of care for children whose parents are unable or sometimes unwilling to do so.
I have also been investigating the relationship between immigration and education, more precisely in terms of pupils’ personal records. I submitted questions on the following to the Department of Education:
Whether the Department of Education shares national pupil data with the Home Office for purposes related to immigration;
What assurances the Department of Education can provide to parents that data on children collected for educational purposes will not subsequently be used for immigration enforcement;
The amount of central government funding allocated to local authority children and young people’s services in (a) 2016, (b) 2017 and (c) 2018; and the proportion of that funding that was allocated to early help services in each of those years;
The number of disabled children who received social care in each of the last three years.
There is one area of education in particular where our children are sold short. That is our history education. I have robustly called for an education curriculum that is more accurate and truthful about our colonial past. In October, I wrote an article in The Guardian entitled 'Crude, racist textbooks have no place in today’s education system'. I cited a textbook claiming Caribbean fathers are ‘largely absent,’ which has been rightly shelved.