Justin’s Weekly Swindon Adver Article – 1st June 2018

All parents want to send their child to a good local school. One that meets their needs and supports them to achieve their full potential no matter their background.

Each year this demand grows, and to meet this the Government has rightly delivered record funding in order to create 825,000 new school places since 2010. Alongside this, we’ve worked with teachers to drive up standards, meaning over the same period almost two million more children across England are attending a school which is rated good or outstanding, including almost 4,000 more in Swindon.

New figures released recently show that 91% of the school places created last year were in good or outstanding schools and while this is fantastic news, we aren’t limiting our ambition.

This week, Ministers have committed an extra £680 million to create 40,000 more good school places in primary and secondary schools across England.

As part of this welcome announcement I was particularly delighted about the £50 million funding boost to create additional school places and new state-of-the-art facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Children and young people with SEND have a huge amount potential, and is it essential we ensure that this potential is met.

My time as the Minister for Disabled People showed me how transformative tailored support can be and in Swindon we are particularly lucky to have a number of high quality mainstream & specialist providers including Uplands, Brimblehill and Horizons College.

This vital extra funding will create around 740 more places and provide new specialist facilities to support children with complex needs; including sensory rooms and playgrounds with specialist equipment.

It builds on the £215 million we committed last year to ensure all children with Special Educational Needs & disabilities are able to access a good school place.

We’re already delivering here in Swindon. I have been actively working with the Brunel SEN Multi-Academy Trust, headed up by the team from Uplands, to help secure the new Churchward ASC School.

Churchward School will provide vital extra secondary and sixth form places for students with autism and associated social communication conditions, and will be located right next to the new £21 million Great Western Academy.

Alongside new school places we are also delivering new qualifications to ensure every child can reach their potential.

For far too long, governments of all colours haven’t done enough to promote technical education at a time when we have important skills gaps we need to fill. That is why I am very excited by the new T Level courses being introduced.

T Levels will be on a par with A Levels and will provide young people with a choice between technical and academic education post 16. Starting in 2020, with courses in construction, digital and education & childcare, they will be rolled out in full in 2021 with courses in sectors such as finance & accounting, engineering & manufacturing, and creative design.

To supplement T Levels, we are also working to create a network of ‘Institutes of Technology’ which will provide top-quality training and apprenticeships in higher-level technical skills. I am lobbying Ministers to bring one of these exciting new centres of excellence to Swindon, and I think we have a very good chance given our manufacturing & engineering heritage.

We’re changing education so it is no longer “one size fits all”. Everyone should be able to have access to an education that suits them, which develops their interests and abilities, and ensures they have the skills necessary to reach their full potential.