Thank you teachers!

Read Kate’s latest column from the Shields Gazette

One of the most enjoyable parts of my role as MP is the opportunity to visit the many incredible schools across the Jarrow constituency.

As lockdown restrictions have eased over the last few months, I have been able to get out in the constituency much more.

I have been thrilled with the response from each and every school I have visited. It has been wonderful to meet school children and their teachers, and have the opportunity to discuss with their Head Teachers the excellent work that is being carried out by our schools during these difficult times.

There are some real heroes in our school community and I’m very much looking forward to visiting St. Matthew’s RC Primary School in Jarrow tomorrow 23rd July 2021 to celebrate the outstanding contribution to education by the school’s Head Teacher Martin Humble, who retires this week after a remarkable 20 years’ service in South Tyneside.

In the year and a half I have been MP, I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside the Head Teachers from our schools like Martin, who has made an outstanding impact in supporting and representing both teachers, pupils, staff, and parents.

I’m thrilled for Martin and the school that his lasting legacy will be a fabulous outdoor space which has been created for the children to use for learning, relaxation, prayer, or meditation.

I’m looking forward to seeing for myself this lasting tribute to his unwavering commitment over the past two decades, and to wish him well for a long and happy retirement.

I know how highly regarded Mr Humble is by the St. Matthew’s School community, and I know it will be an emotional day for him personally and everyone connected with the school.

There are many more school leaders such as Martin who have contributed so much to the North East education sector, and they all deserve our gratitude and praise.

Education is something I am hugely passionate about and I’m really pleased to now be a member of the Education Select Committee, which scrutinises the work of the Department for Education, covering schools, colleges and children’s social care. You can follow the Committee on Twitter @CommonsEd

As restrictions have eased further this week and schools break for summer, I would like to pay tribute to the education staff, pupils, and parents, who have all done so much during the pandemic to keep children and young people learning.

It’s been a tremendously difficult time for all of our schools, with over 1 million school pupils in England absent last week due to Covid.

What makes this situation all the more frustrating is that it was the Conservative Government’s negligence in letting the Delta variant take hold at the same time as they failed to take the necessary precaution in schools.

I strongly believe that school is the best place for children – for their learning, their wellbeing, and their social development – and that is why I strongly believe we must do everything we can to keep them there safely.

However, the Government – led by the hapless Health Secretary Gavin Williamson – has offered little confidence that their actions will keep more children in school without driving up infections now or in the future.

With infections continuing to rise at a worrying rate, this pandemic is far from over.

The Conservatives’ inadequate testing regime, failure to act on ventilation and their failure to close the border quickly have damaged our children’s education.

When the schools return in September, the Government must ensure their mistakes from the past are not repeated.