COMMONS

Chair nominations for Education Committee

Nominations close for Chair elections

Six nominations have been received for the position of Chair of the Education Committee. The Chair will be elected from the Conservative party.

A full list of candidates is published below with accompanying statements.

As set out by the Speaker, the election will be held in Committee Room 8 from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday 12 July. The results are expected to be announced by the Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow, as soon as possible after the ballots close.

The candidates are:

Nominated by (own party)

Mr Edward Vaizey, Sir Hugo Swire, Lucy Frazer, Nicky Morgan, Ben Bradley, Rishi Sunak, Adam Holloway, Mr Andrew Mitchell, Anne Marie Morris, Sir Henry Bellingham, George Freeman, Oliver Dowden, Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Matt Warman, Kit Malthouse

Nominated by (other parties)

Peter Kyle, Liz Kendall

Statement

I would like to ask you to support me in the election of a new chairman for the Education Select Committee. You may be surprised to find me putting myself forward for this demanding role so soon after such a serious illness. But my doctors tell me my cancer is in complete remission and while I still need a month or two to build myself back up to full strength, they are confident I will be firing on all cylinders by September. 

As someone whose overriding purpose in politics is to spread opportunity through social reform, I have always seen education as one of the most important things that government does. Only through education can we empower people to make the most of their talents and build the best possible life for themselves and their families. In my 4 years as a minister in David Cameron's government (first as planning minister in DCLG and then as skills minister in the Department for Education and BIS) the most significant things I did were to design the apprenticeship levy which is massively expanding employers' investment in apprenticeship training, and to draw up with David Sainsbury a complete overhaul of our system of technical education. These reforms, if implemented fully, have the potential to liberate millions of people from the circumstances in which they grew up and give them the chance to write themselves a new future powered by their innate abilities, hard work and a new generation of technical qualifications that employers respect and value. It is an inspiring vision which I am determined that in this Parliament we will realise. 

As chairman of the Education Select Committee I would want the committee to scrutinise with an unflinching rigour a department with lots on its plate from school funding reform to teacher recruitment, from children's mental health to the free school programme, from combatting extremism to making sure our university students get value for money for their tuition fees. But while scrutiny should be the Committee's bread and butter, I would aim for the Committee to become known for and pride itself on its contributions to the wider debate about education policy, and its influence on the future direction of education reform. The need for education reform never goes away, and our ambitions for educational improvement should always stay just out of our reach. The Committee can play an important role in ensuring that we are always focused on the future and that the pace of reform never slackens. 

I am not naturally very partisan and have always maintained friendly relations with colleagues across the House. In education, most of us want the same things for our constituents and their children and all of us can learn from each other's ideas about how to make the system work better. But I am not naive. We will not always be able to reach an agreement that satisfies everyone fully. As chairman I would do my level best to steer the committee onto common ground and strike grown up compromises where necessary. I would also want to give every member of the Committee room to develop their own ideas and contribute them to the Committee's research and publications. 

Although I will be in Parliament for several hours most days this week and next, I will not be able to spend dawn until dusk prowling the division lobbies, canteens and tearoom in the hope of catching you unawares and putting you on the spot. But I would love to talk to you if you would like to talk to me. Please just contact my office to arrange a convenient time for me to call. 

Relevant interests

None

Nominated by (own party)

Royston Smith, Mr Shailesh Vara, Michael Tomlinson, Mr John Baron, Tom Tugendhat, Mims Davies, Mrs Maria Miller, Gordon Henderson, Andrew Bridgen, Mr Jonathan Djanogly, Simon Hart, Daniel Kawczynski, Chris Davies, Mark Menzies, Glyn Davies

Nominated by (other parties)

Pete Wishart, Mr Khalid Mahmood, Imran Hussain, Stephen Kinnock, Mr Virendra Sharma

Statement

I understand the challenges that students face in their educational journey to achieve their full potential. I attended a failing High School, before attending a sixth form Grammar. I was first in my family to attend university before qualifying as a barrister.  

In my seven years in Parliament, as a backbench MP and not in Government, I bring an independent, fresh set of eyes to the scrutiny that the committee carries out. I have a proven track record of working with colleagues from across the House in bringing about Government change, as was demonstrated in the ‘Daesh Campaign’ with the support of 170 MPs from across the House. Government finally adopted the correct terminology, in helping to defeat the terrorist organisations’ ideological appeal and propaganda campaign.  I have put forward two private Members’ Bills on Mental Health which were supported by over 60 colleagues from across the House and by the Royal College of Psychiatrists; aspects of the Bills were taken forward by Government.

Why the Education Committee?

  • All children and young people deserve to thrive socially and receive the best educational outcomes possible. There are many questions, challenges and issues that need to be addressed: 
  • School leaders are in agreement that the biggest issue facing the teaching profession is funding. How can we ensure that all schools are treated fairly with a funding formula that will not disadvantage the next generation? 
  • A greater number of high quality teachers are choosing to leave the profession. We need a coherent programme to ensure recruitment and retention.
  • Intervention and prevention in the Early Years for families and young children saves money in the long-term in education and social care. We need to think about long-term strategies to improve Early Years’ education; not just quick fixes.
  • Mental health issues for children and young people are on the rise; we need to understand why. How can we collectively manage their well-being and prevent an exponential rise in mental health issues? 
  • Many parents, carers and teachers have concerns about formally testing primary children at the age of seven, potentially putting too much pressure on children and their families. Testing could narrow wider curriculum opportunities. 
  • School governance is integral to the development of schools; all too often, schools struggle, especially those in challenging circumstances, to recruit high calibre individuals. 
  • The most disadvantaged in our society are still not catching up with their counterparts. The question remains, is the Government strategy the right one?
  • Community cohesion and social mobility: Look at providing financial support to encourage school outreach activities which connect generations and so improve community cohesion and social mobility. Outreach could include sixth form volunteers supporting Pupil Premium children in primaries to students helping out older members of the community in care homes with technology. 

As a local MP, I have worked within the Education sector at various levels and across the spectrum: Nursery, Primary, Secondary (all Levels), Local Universities, Specialist Schools and FE Colleges. I also helped secure a UTC for Medway.

Relevant interests

None

Nominated by (own party)

Dr Andrew Murrison, Nadhim Zahawi, Charlie Elphicke, Andrea Jenkyns, Jack Brereton, Suella Fernandes, Simon Hoare, Eddie Hughes, James Cleverly, Nigel Huddleston, Andrew C Bowie, Johnny Mercer, Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, David T. C. Davies, Mr Sam Gyimah

Nominated by (other parties)

Meg Hillier, Ian Mearns, Stephen Lloyd, Marion Fellows, Martin Docherty-Hughes

Statement

A picture of a ladder has pride of place on my office wall. I call it the ladder of opportunity.

To me, education is such a ladder.  Our job as parliamentarians is to make it easier for learners to climb it. To ensure that everyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to get a quality education, develop their skills, progress in their careers, and achieve prosperity and security for their future.

Anyone who knows me, will know of my passion for education. My maiden speech was on apprenticeships. I was one of the first MPs to employ one. I have been a school governor in both primary and secondary schools and have made over 60 visits to my local FE College. During my time as Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, I have had the privilege to visit many education providers up and down the country.

My mission, as Education Select Committee Chair, would be to work to strengthen the ladder of opportunity and increase access to every rung, from bottom to top. High quality education provision and a pursuit of excellence must go hand in hand with equality of access.  

As a former Education Minister, I bring recent experience of the policy and challenges the Committee will face in the year ahead. But, to those who need reassurance, I am no establishment man. I will not be afraid to challenge Ministers, leaders or the sector when needed.

I have often worked on a cross-party basis, whether campaigning for the extension of free school meals to disadvantaged college students or steering the Further and Technical Education Bill through Parliament. I want to chair a Committee where as many views are heard as possible.

I would aim for the Committee to have an approach that is strongly evidential. I also want students, apprentices and those working as practitioners in the education sector to be properly represented in our inquiries.

My hope is that the Committee would focus on the following areas:

  1. Social Justice – Highlighting and seeking the removal of barriers to equality of opportunity from schools, right through to Apprenticeships, FE, Universities and Adult Education; the wellbeing of students in areas such as mental health and bullying.
  2. Early Years – Scrutinising the implementation of the 30 hour free childcare and the resources needed to support nursery schools.
  3. Schools – Examining the new Schools Funding Formula and working for a fair allocation of available resources; improving standards, particularly in literacy and numeracy.
  4. Further Education, Apprenticeships and Skills – Scrutinising the roll out of the Government’s technical education reforms (T Levels) and the Apprenticeship Levy; the development of UTCs, National Colleges and Institutes of Technology; the need for an expansion of adult education and plugging the skills deficit, particularly in STEM subjects.
  5. Higher Education – Reviewing Student finance and the disparity between cost and employment.
  6. Careers - Strengthening our careers advice offering and ensuring adequate coverage of skills and vocational opportunities.

Relevant interests

During the 2017 Election Campaign, Harlow Conservatives Fighting Fund received donations to support my campaign, including from some individuals with interests in the education sector such as David Meller and Selva Pankaj. Further details in the Register of Member’s Interests.

Financial support also received during the election from Jason Holt, the Government’s Apprenticeship Ambassador for Small Business. This has not been added to the Register as it is under the declarable amount.

I employ an Apprentice in my parliamentary office (details in the Register of Member’s Interests).

Member of Prospect trade union

Patron of Home-start Harlow

Nominated by (own party)

Dame Caroline Spelman, Sir Nicholas Soames, James Morris, Esther McVey, Bob Blackman, Stephen Hammond, Alex Burghart, Mrs Kemi Badenoch, Ms Nusrat Ghani, Crispin Blunt, Sir Oliver Letwin, Mr Dominic Grieve, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Mr William Wragg, Theresa Villiers

Nominated by (other parties)

Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck,  Stephen Pound, Yvette Cooper, Stuart C. McDonald, Mrs Sharon Hodgson

Statement

There is nothing more important to all of us than giving our children the best start in life. The fair funding of our schools, the sustainability of tuition fees and the way we care for our most vulnerable young people are just some of the subjects which are currently exercising us all, as politicians or as parents, or both. I have no doubt that the Education Select Committee faces one of the most important jobs of scrutiny of all the committees in coming months and years. It needs to have a stronger profile and louder voice and I think I am the best placed candidate to provide that.

Why me?

I was a Minister in the Department for Education from 2010-2012 having been Shadow Minister for Children for 9 years previously, including responsibility for mental health, so I have been on the opposite side of the table and know ‘where the bodies are buried.’ I am not newly ‘unshackled’ from Government, rather my independence has been forged over the last 5 years as my record in Parliament shows.

This is borne out by my assiduous track record on the Home Affairs Select Committee, serving as acting chairman during which time we published some particularly critical reports, always with unanimous cross-party backing. 
My time in Parliament has been dominated by dealing with, and acting as a champion for, children and young people. In particular I continue to chair the APPG for Children and for 1001 Critical Days (Conception to Age 2) and am vice-chair of the Children in Care Group. 

As Children’s Minister I was responsible for overhauling policy on fostering and adoption, launched the ground breaking Munro Report on child protection and social work, authored the ‘Positive for Youth’ strategy and pioneered the Government’s Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan well before the Savile revelations. All of these are now in danger of drifting and need close scrutiny.

Priorities for the Education Committee

The top priority for the DfE, and therefore for committee scrutiny, is achieving an urgent funding solution for our schools, fair to all and sustainable. Meanwhile higher education has been neglected by the Committee yet the future of tuition fees is apparently now in play. We need to scrutinise why students aren’t getting value for money in the light of rising fees.

Children’s social care has often been a ‘poor relation’ in the DfE but should not be for the Committee, especially with the important Fostering Stock Take underway and recent record numbers of children in care. Child well-being, particularly mental health in schools, is an area that the Committee has addressed well but really must keep on the case as one of the biggest pressures on our young people.

I am very excited to be part of this and hope you will give me the opportunity to help make this one of the most influential and high profile committees of the House, as it needs and deserves to be.

Relevant interests

Advisor to the National Fostering Agency.

Nominated by (own party)

Andrew Percy, Vicky Ford, Giles Watling, Mrs Sheryll Murray, Craig Mackinlay, Chris Green, Derek Thomas, Conor Burns, Damian Collins, Mark Pritchard, Mrs Pauline Latham, Robert Neill, Gareth Johnson, Iain Stewart, Bob Stewart

Nominated by (other parties)

Carol Monaghan, Mr David Lammy, Mike Gapes, Hywel Williams, Ian Paisley

Relevant interests

None

Nominated by (own party)

John Penrose, Neil Parish, Sir Paul Beresford, Scott Mann, John Stevenson, Peter Aldous, Sir David Amess, James Cartlidge, Sir Desmond Swayne, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Mr Charles Walker, Will Quince, Dr Matthew Offord, Tom Pursglove. Grant Shapps 

Nominated by (other parties)

Yasmin Qureshi, Norman Lamb, Paul Flynn, Mr Alistair Carmichael, Lady Hermon

Statement

I am standing as Chair of the Education Select Committee because I would like to co-ordinate the work of the committee in scrutinising Government education policy and in making recommendations that will help to give every child and young person the best possible start in life.  

From my background working in the public sector, I have experience of working with schools to improve child and adolescent mental health, and freely give my time to work with universities including King’s College London to support young people from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds to enter university education. As a former Minister, I also have experience of working to improve NHS and social care support in schools for children with special education needs. 

I am not afraid to work with Members from other parties: I worked on a cross-party basis with Labour, Lib Dem and SNP colleagues to try to avert last year's junior doctor strike, and again on a plan for social care. I'm prepared to act independently and to challenge the Government where I think it's in the national interest: last year I called for a new health and care tax to help to ensure a sustainable system.

If elected, my priorities would be: 

  • To open an enquiry into the tuition fee system
  • To examine the effect of public sector pay restraint on the recruitment, retention and morale of the teaching profession
  • To evaluate the importance of early years’ education and support in improving a child’s life chances
  • To open an enquiry into plans to change the school funding formula and examine the issue of “fairer schools funding”
  • To examine how to better support children and young people with poor mental health throughout their education
  • To open an enquiry into how the education system can better promote the social mobility and the life chances of pupils from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds
  • To support British universities to remain centres of excellence and to examine the impact of Brexit on the UK university sector
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the apprenticeships programme and vocational education and training

Relevant interests

Visiting Professor Kings College London (unremunerated)

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