The Conservatives have a strong record on education over the last 5 years. We have enacted legislation to strengthen teacher discipline in the classroom. There is a greater focus on the basics like numeracy and literacy. We have restored academic rigour to the syllabus, so children are equipped for working life once they leave school. We have also put in place investment in a major expansion of apprenticeships and other vocational training, for bright – but not necessarily academic – youngsters.
We have, through the academy and free school program, given dedicated and pioneering head-teachers, school governors and parents greater freedom to innovate in their local schools – to tailor the education for their pupils and community, and drive up standards. The result? We now have 1 million more children in schools rated outstanding or good by Ofsted.
Locally, I have fought for a fairer deal for local funding. As a result, I secured a doubling of the capital funding for local schools, and an increase of £212 in the per pupil funding for local children. We have a major school-building program underway, which will ease the acute pressure we face for school places (because of the last Labour government’s under-investment).
I have also worked with local schools and Surrey County Council to get more sensible catchment areas for some schools. We have an increasing number of academies – and two new free schools in Cobham – and standards of teaching are rising across the borough.
As well as working to ease pressure on local school places, I have been making the case nationally for a meritocratic revolution to boost social mobility. Last year, I published The Meritocrat’s Manifesto here, which sets out the ladders of opportunity I’d like to see to expand opportunities for youngsters irrespective of their background.