During the final day of debate on the Queen's Speech on Tuesday, two new Conservative MPs touched on important educational matters in their maiden speeches:
"As the new powerhouses of China, India, Russia and Brazil loom ever larger, we must rise to the challenge they set. Fundamental to that must be ensuring the very best education for every child to enable them all, regardless of background, to fulfil their potential. That is a theme that many hon. Members have touched on already. Striving for excellence is not just about bringing all up to scratch or setting the bar at an acceptable standard. It must be about encouraging all to stretch themselves, from wherever they start, to be all that they can. That should be true both for schools and for the students in their care. In education, as in industry, when people feel ownership, empowerment and responsibility, they are much more likely to go the extra mile and make a success of their venture—hence the great attraction of the academy model, even for schools that are already very successful.
"Those same principles need not mean going it alone, as they can extend beyond the school gate, with schools working in partnership with others. In my constituency, the 44 schools and colleges already work co-operatively, choosing to pool resources in the pursuit of shared goals. The potential advantages of that kind of approach are many fold. It can enable smaller village schools, which we value very highly in my area, to derive scale benefits that they otherwise would not have. It can provide new stretch opportunities for particularly gifted and talented youngsters, and also a forum for governors to share best practice."
Later in the debate came the first contribution from Norfolk South West's new MP, Elizabeth Truss, who did much work on education whilst at the Reform think-tank prior to her election. She called for "an overhaul of our qualifications system":
"Like everywhere else in the country, the economy of South West Norfolk has changed. With increased automation, we now have higher skilled jobs. A typical farm now employs an eighth of the employees that it did 40 years ago, but those employees are in highly technically skilled and business management roles. We need to ensure that we educate people for those jobs. That is why I want to look to our great universities to lead on academic qualifications. I have previously called for maths and science to move from geek to chic. Never has this been more important, and I will be pressing for that.
"I also want to see employers lead in on-the-job skills because people get a passion for work and a sense of craftsmanship from watching someone who cares about it doing the job. I will be fighting for that to make sure that those people, not bureaucrats, are in charge of setting our qualifications."