Education is the single most important thing we can provide for our children. We must make sure that good-quality education is available to everyone in our communities at whatever age and level is most appropriate. We must not allow the government to sell off the rights to control schools to businesses or other organisations. The MP for Cambridge must have a strong position on education. Anne Campbell’s abstention on top-up fees deservedly earned her widespread criticism.


Crisis in Cambridge’s primary schools

Here in Cambridge, we face serious consequences as a result of the County Council’s failure to plan ahead for the number of children entering primary schools. There are literally hundreds more 5-year-olds expected to start school in 2011 than places available in classes for them. The County’s solution to this is to provide lots of mobile classrooms to accommodate them, but this is simply unacceptable, and will not provide the right environment for their education to get off to the proper start.


The County Council is failing to provide proper school places


Dealing with a failing school in East Chesterton

I have experience dealing with local schools through my role on the County Council, and was a governor at St Andrew’s Junior School in my ward, East Chesterton. For a number of systemic reasons, and despite valiant efforts of teachers and staff, this school was failing its pupils – it was placed into special measures shortly before I became a governor. Although we did manage to pull it out of special measures, it was clear to me that the ultimate solution had to be closure, and after much effort the school was closed, and the neighbouring Infant’s school expanded to cover the entire age range.


International adviser in new Europe

I have also worked on much broader aspects of education policy – in 2000, I was employed by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) as part of a team to study Bulgaria’s education policies and to advise their government. After intense fieldwork and discussion with teachers, students, ministers and others, we produced a detailed report, which has led to significant changes in many aspects of the Bulgarian education system, in particular to how teachers were paid and trained.

Julian in a school in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, while working for the OECD