On Friday I visited Staverton Primary School, where I saw their excellent ‘numbers count’ booster classes, in which a specially-trained teacher gives children who find maths particularly challenging the extra help they need to keep up with their classmates. That way, the whole class can move forward faster together.
This is how Staverton Primary is using its pupil premium funding, introduced by the Liberal Democrats in Government to help the most disadvantaged pupils receive the excellent education they need.
A clear indication of the success of this intervention is that the school tells me that so far those children who receive it generally do not need extra help with maths later on in their education. This shows the importance of supporting disadvantaged children as early as possible, which is why the Liberal Democrats have gone beyond our manifesto promise, to now extend the pupil premium to nurseries.
Schools and their teachers are far better placed than Ministers in Whitehall to decide how to use this money to address the particular needs of their pupils.
So we have given schools the freedom to spend their pupil premium funding as they see fit.
I have argued that the Government’s role is to help the best interventions spread from school to school and to ensure parents can hold schools to account for how this money is used.
One of the great joys of my job is visiting local schools to see the innovative ways they are using the pupil premium in their classrooms. On a past visit, for example, I also saw it being spent on extra tuition in pairs at Bowerhill Primary School. One teacher has told me that it is the best thing to happen in primary schools for years.
Over the weekend, I visited residents in Pewsham and Bradford on Avon, as well as closer to home dropping by the Holt Music Festival.
I was very sorry to hear that Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, was taken seriously ill recently. My thoughts are with him and his family, and I wish him a full recovery.
I am currently recruiting for a caseworker to join my team in Chippenham. For the job description and details of how to apply, please visit tinyurl.com/HamesCWK.
After constituency surgeries in Corsham and Melksham last week, my next one will be at my office in Avonbridge House, Chippenham on Thursday, June 19 from 4pm to 5.30pm.