A Fair Start For Every Child

In the long-run, the best way to build a fairer society is to improve all our schools. Lib Dems in government have made this a priority, bringing in several key policies including the Pupil Premium and Early Years funding that are giving young people the support they need now.

I want to see children given the best possible start in life regardless of their family background.

The Coalition’s decision to extend free early years education is something I very much welcome. Over the next two years free nursery places will be offered to 3,400 two-year-olds in Cambridgeshire. The first few years of a child’s education are vital I am pleased that so many more children in and around the city will have the opportunity to attend nurseries in order to play and learn in preparation for starting school.

However, this funding will present a wasted opportunity if there aren’t enough nursery school places available. Recent figures suggest a shortfall of 754 places in Cambridge city. This problem must be addressed now by the County Council. I will be keeping the pressure on them to do so to ensure that this funding doesn’t go to waste.

We also need better provision for children starting school over the next few years. The Conservative-run County Council has delayed and delayed the building of new classrooms in Cambridge, resulting in many children having to start school in temporary, mobile classrooms. But after much campaigning £12.5 million has been secured to fund extra school places across Cambridgeshire and bids have been won for millions of pounds of government money to be spent on school rebuilding programmes, like the one at the Manor.

The Liberal Democrat Pupil Premium is something I am really proud of. For every child who receives free school meals the Coalition will give a sum of money to the pupil’s school to ensure that they can get the head start they need. The Pupil Premium is making a real difference to youngsters here. After visiting The Manor School the Lib Dem Minister for Children and Families, Sarah Teather, had some very positive things to say about the work being done in our schools and I am determined to keep up the pressure on the government to improve the funding for schools in our region even more.

Of course, as part of a coalition government, we’ve been unable to make all of the changes we campaigned for at the general election. For more on the Lib Dems’ national plans, go to http://www.libdems.org.uk/education.aspx