Last Monday in the House of Commons, the Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman referred to a meeting that he had been involved in the week before. If this is a genuine way of the Government listening to people in our Nation, then these events should occur much more frequently and across the whole of the Nation. It is vital for the Government to listen to people in constituencies that vote for their party members and also the constituencies that vote for other party members. I have met several MPs over the last few decades. One of the ways we used to meet them was when the Churches Together in Sussex and Surrey group of Bishops and their equivalent leaders were invited to Parliament to meet the local MPs. That event used to take place every year. I am aware that some of the Sussex MPs have met the Sussex Chamber of Commerce in its work for the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) activity. The business I am part of has met the local MP at least twice on our premises in the last decade. I have also been part of the local Chamber of Commerce that has been able to meet the local MP on occasions. However there was no indication that any of those events have ever made a significant connection between the MPs and the Government during those periods. However the call by Huw Herriman indicates, partly because it was more than him as an MP, that the Government can listen to the meeting that took place two weeks ago. So when will these activities become more frequent and more geographically broadly? Sadly the response from Robin Walker who was a Minister at that stage for Education and Scotland until the day before Boris Johnson resigned was not a clear call for such activities to take place. Let us hope that when the next Prime Minister is in position that they will consider getting their MPs and indeed the other MPs to communicate from their constituencies!
Huw Merriman: At a roundtable at Heathfield Community College last week, the Secretary of State’s adviser and I heard a number of great ideas from a group of headteachers and governors. One was that there is surely a need for the proposed parents’ pledge, to outline not only what parents can expect from teachers but what teachers can expect from parents. Would that idea help us to help teachers teach?
Robin Walker: We want to ensure that every child across the country has a complete and well rounded education, receiving targeted support where needed. We have made the pledge to parents to make that happen. If a child falls behind in English or maths, they will receive targeted support to get back on track and parents will be kept up to date with their progress. We expect parents to engage constructively with schools and to give support in terms of both attendance and behaviour, which will of course maximise their children’s opportunities.