Robin Walker last week welcomed Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP to Worcester on Friday to show off some of the city’s schools, colleges and its University. He was able to introduce her to a large number of teachers and headteachers, as well as students at the New College and from local Primary Schools.

Robin, who is PPS to the Education Secretary began his busy day with the opening of the new Worcester Early Years Centre off Malvern Road, where he joined the Bishop of Worcester at a service of dedication for a wonderful new early years facility. He then went on to a meeting with local nurseries to discuss the implications of the Government’s 30 hours free childcare offer before joining the Secretary of State for her programme of visits.

Nicky Morgan first visited New College Worcester, the specialist residential college for the blind, where she will meet key staff and heard from students as to how the school helps them develop academic skills alongside skills for living independently. She met students taking lessons in science, music and independent living skills and heard about the unique nature of the college which combines individual attention and support for its students with a rigorous academic focus. She also heard how New College can support other mainstream settings with its expertise in teaching academic subjects to the blind.

She then moved onto Christopher Whitehead where she had a long discussion with local Head teachers from the West side of Worcester. Neil Morris, the head of Christopher Whitehead was able to show  Nicky Morgan his smart new Sixth Form Centre where he was joined by Kate Brunt the head of the Rivers multi academy trust and former head of St Clements Primary as well as Kate Wilcocks, one of Worcester newest head teachers, from Pitmaston Primary School. They discussed the need for fairer funding, the challenges of recruiting in maths and sciences and how to reduce the pressures on teacher workload.

The Secretary of State finished her visit to the city meeting the University of Worcester and library staff at the Hive. These included Kathy Kirk, the Head of Worcestershire’s Schools Library Service and a number of representatives from the University of Worcester, She was impressed at how The Hive, Europe’s first shared library between a City, County and University, delivered library services in an innovative and attractive way whilst attracting parents with children, teachers with classes, students and members of the public. She also met with class MPs from Perry Wood Primary School along with their Headteacher Tracy Keller-Jones, who then joined newly qualified teachers and teacher training staff from the University in a meeting with the Secretary of State to talk about teacher training and mentoring.

Robin, who is PPS to the Secretary of State said of the visit:

“I was delighted to be able to welcome the Secretary of State to Worcester and show her some our city’s excellent schools. It is always a challenge to fit in all the places I would like to on such a visit and there are plenty more local schools I would love to have been able to show to her but it was fantastic to visit the unique and special New College, the excellent new Sixth Form Centre at Christopher Whitehead and the University at our iconic Hive.”

“More importantly it was good that she could meet and listen to some of the inspirational teachers and head teachers on the front line. Worcester has some wonderful examples of educational excellence and it is all the more remarkable we have managed to sustain them with the tough funding settlement we have had from Government for far too long. I was very pleased to be able to welcome the education secretary to the city and for her to reaffirm her commitment to delivering fairer funding. As a Leicestershire MP she knows the need for it.”

The visit comes in the wake of yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on fairer school funding where the Government reiterated its commitment to protecting school funding and the money available for each pupil overall but also to delivering a fairer funding settlement. Robin attended the debate as PPS but could not speak in it. A number of colleagues paid tribute to his work on the issue:

Graham Stuart (former Chairman of the Education Select Committee) said:

I know colleagues will want me to say that we all owe a debt of gratitude to my hon. Friend Mr Walker. He was a tireless champion of the issue in the previous Parliament, and I know he continues to be highly supportive in his new role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State. It is a delight to see him here.

Daniel Kawcynski (MP for Shrewsbury) commented:

Thanks to your work, Mr Walker, and that of my hon. Friend for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart), we saw changes in the last Parliament, from 2010 to 2015. As a result of the tremendous work that they and others did, we have received an extra £10 million per annum for Shropshire schools

Julian Sturdy (MP for York Outer) aid:

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Graham Stuart and to you, Mr Walker for all the hard work on this issue.

Neil Parish (MP for Tiverton) said:

I thank my hon. Friend Mr Walker, who fought hard in the last Parliament for fairer education funding, and who continues to do so in this one.

Kevin Foster (MP for Torbay) also said:

I am delighted that this debate has been secured so that we can talk again about the unfairness in the current funding system. That is why I am particularly delighted to see my hon. Friend Mr Walker here today. I know that he will be noting down every point made today, given the impact of this issue on his own constituency and his own lengthy record of campaigning about it.

Sam Gyimah, the Minister closed the debate by saying

“Fairer funding underpins our vision for a world-class education system. To really support schools, we need to make the funding system fairer for every school and every child. Our vision is of a future in which every school in the country, whatever their characteristics and wherever they are, provides excellent education, allowing every child to succeed. I am enormously grateful to colleagues who have been campaigning hard for this over several years, and thank them for their contributions to the debate.”

Commenting on the debate Robin Walker, MP for Worcester said

“It was very strange to be in a debate about fairer funding and not to be able to speak but it was just as good a debate as any of those that I have spoken in previously and thanks to the kindness of many colleagues, Worcester got a good hearing. I was delighted to hear such a firm commitment to fairness from the Minister and look forward to working with him on the delivery. It has been a long time coming to Worcestershire.”

Notes to Editors

To view the Westminster Hall debate on Fairer School Funding please visit:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151105/halltext/151105h0001.htm#15110530000001

 

To view the release from New College Worcester on the Secretary of State’s visit please visit:

http://www.newcollegeworcester.co.uk/nicky-morgan-visit

 

The website for Christopher Whitehead Language College can be found at the following link:

http://www.christopherwhitehead.worcs.sch.uk

 

The website for the University of Worcester can be found at the following link:

http://www.worcester.ac.uk

 

The website for The Hive can found at the following link:

http://www.thehiveworcester.org

 

The website for Perry Wood Primary school can be found here:

http://www.perrywoodprimary.co.uk