I have been truly impressed by the resilience of my constituents of all ages during this pandemic and the way in which they have adapted their daily lives to comply with Government guidance to work together as a community to prevent our NHS being overwhelmed.
As we emerge from lockdown, ‘a new normal’ for Britain and the Workington constituency will emerge. As guidance becomes lighter, people return to work, the older and more vulnerable are able to leave their house, and children return to school, there will be practices that return to how they were before. For other activities, at least for the short term, a new normal will emerge.
Lockdown has provided a period of reflection. One advantage of this is that it has allowed us to ascertain whether there are services that can be improved and delivered in a different way to contribute to a better society. Among the most important is education.
For a number of weeks, parents throughout my constituency have been witnessing first- hand the education of our children. We have had to take a more hands- on approach, assisting with routine, helping with work and tutoring as best we can with the support of our children’s schools and teachers.
As schools across the Workington constituency reopen and children return to the classroom, it is incumbent on us to remember that education and teachers are key to learning and development. Their influence runs deep, and for those reasons I believe we should be looking to widen the education that our children receive while ensuring the life messages, and how they are delivered to our children, are appropriate.
And it is for this reason that I believe that parents should take greater interest in what is being taught in the curriculum, as well as how it is being taught.
We are incredibly lucky that every person in this county is given access to a free education. We need to ensure that the end result delivers value for the time and money invested, and contributes to the Britain we would like to see.
For me, the role of parents in our children’s education is significant. We have been asked to stay alert during this Covid 19 outbreak. We need to stay alert in other areas of our lives too including the education of our children. It is not teachers’ responsibility to ensure our children are rounded individuals. Yes, they play a large part, but ultimately it is our responsibility as parents to ensure we keep our finger on the pulse.
I am a supporter of academies, of free schools, of University Technical Colleges, of grammar schools, of comprehensives and of independent schools – with any faith attachment or none. The wider the choice for pupils and parents, the better chance our young people have of succeeding.
I would like to see a greater choice for parents in the Workington constituency. An example of the provision of more variety is the opening of the wonderful Cumbria Academy for Autism. This is the result of years of hard work from dedicated parents and volunteers who saw a gap in provision – and worked incredibly hard to ensure it was filled.
I would support the creation of other Free Schools in the Workington constituency to create more choice and wider provision. There is nothing to stop parents getting together in Workington to develop this idea. With new insight gained during lockdown, a number of parents may be inspired to create another option locally for their children and other children in the towns and villages of my constituency. I would support any group who would like to take this idea further.