Education matters | Antony Higginbotham
The importance of good quality education cannot be understated.
Residents across Burnley and Padiham not only deserve that, but it’s also the most fundamental building block if we are to lift the life chances of everybody within the borough.
And it encompasses every single person.
From the children who attend primary and secondary schools, students studying at Burnley college, those looking to go to university, and to the increasing numbers who are progressing into an apprenticeship or retraining later in life.
I’m committed to creating an environment where everybody can reach their potential.
It’s something I spoke extensively on during the General Election campaign and have continued to do so since.
Questions to the Prime Minister, meetings with the Secretary of State and open engagement with our educational providers.
Because it’s vital for us to make sure that everybody in our borough has the opportunities to succeed - through world class education which provides the skills and knowledge fit for the 21st Century.
A big part of that is about our children receiving high-quality education and is why I’ve been working to secure extra support needed for the young people within the borough who just need that extra help.
Teachers, parents, and children have all worked hard throughout the pandemic and with education facilities now re-open it’s important to make sure that no child is left behind as we build back better from the pandemic.
This week, as part of the long-term commitment to support the education recovery, an extra £1.4 billion of funding has been announced to do just that.
Up to six million 15-hour tutoring courses will be rolled out across the country, including here in Burnley and Padiham; the 16 – 19 tuition fund will be expanded to target key subjects such as maths and English; and teachers including those providing early years education will be supported with further access to world leading training whatever stage of their career they are at.
And this funding comes on top of the £1.6 billion put in last year to support children impacted by lost learning.
That’s a £3 billion investment in our children and young people on top of the main education budget.
But it’s not just those in our primary and secondary schools – education doesn’t stop at 16 years old.
Delivering on my promise to increase the number of apprenticeships we have is important too.
By having education providers and local employers working together we can achieve exactly that – ensuring that our post-16 education is intrinsically linked to the skills and knowledge that we know employers need both now, and in the future.
Because it is no good leaving school without the ability to gain a job.
That’s why I’ve been working closely with Burnley College, and supporting UCLAN with their plans, to deliver high quality education to people of all ages across the borough, whilst building on the successes we’ve already seen.
It is really pleasing to see that Burnley College has now submitted plans for a further extension to the facility, enabling them to provide yet more quality training opportunities and build even greater links with employers.
What we need is a joined-up approach, taking local businesses on that same journey, and so the doubling of the apprentice payment has my full support.
This was an incentive announced by the Chancellor in his Budget earlier this year, as part of the Plan for Jobs, in order to ensure our younger generations don’t pay the price for this pandemic.
And it means that businesses across the borough who hire an apprentice can now claim £3,000 for each one, giving them the support they need to keep hiring and training the next generation.
It doesn’t just end there though. As the economy changes and the importance of new skills becomes ever greater, we need to think radically about training and education if we’re to level up.
That’s what the Lifetime Skills Guarantee is all about, making sure that whatever you’re age you can get the skills that you need to pursue your dreams.
Levelling up Burnley and Padiham is more than just improving our infrastructure; it’s about levelling up life chances, so that everyone has the same opportunities.
That’s exactly what our education reforms are all about and is what I am 100% committed to seeing change in Burnley and Padiham.
On a final note, given that we have just come to the end of Volunteering Week I’d like to say a personal thank you to all those volunteering groups that we have in our area who do so much for the community.
Whether it’s one of the many local community groups we have, those who keep our parks looking at their best, or the jabs army that has been working tirelessly to roll out the vaccine here.