Column: They cannot ignore inequality. Barnsley’s children deserve better.
Firstly, I want to congratulate everyone who has collected their GCSE, BTEC and A-Level results in the last few days.
Whatever your results are and whatever comes next, you should be incredibly proud of your hard work and achievements.
I also want to thank all of the teaching and support staff who have been there for pupils through an incredibly difficult time.
As a former teacher, I know first hand how hard it can sometimes be teaching in the classroom, never mind teaching to children at home with all of the challenges that the pandemic brought and the digital divide so many pupils faced.
Sadly, this years national results have yet again seen a widening of inequality, with areas like ours being held back, in favour of the wealthiest parts of the country.
While the proportion of top GCSE grades given to wealthy areas like London was well above the national average, the average for Yorkshire fell well below.
The gap in attainment between students on free school meals and their peers has increased by almost a third since 2019.
The gap between state schools and private schools has increased to the highest level in a generation.
The future of young people, their education and their communities should not be determined by whether they can afford a private education.
But under this Government, unfairness has been baked into the system.
Far from levelling-up, this government is kicking away the ladder before our young people even have a chance to climb it.
This has not happened by chance.
Between 2010 and 2019, the Conservative's cut total school spending per pupil by 8% in real terms.
In Barnsley, child poverty levels have increased with nearly 1 in 4 children now relying on free school meals.
And over 5500 children in Barnsley now sit in class sizes over 30, an increase of 58% since 2010.
The Government’s painfully slow distribution of laptops and internet data, and their repeated failure to feed kids on free school meals, has further hampered learning throughout the pandemic.
And yet, they rejected the education recovery plan that their own appointed expert recommended to them.
The Prime Minister must show some leadership, step-in and ensure his inept government does not cost young people their future opportunities, anymore.
They cannot continue to ignore this inequality. Barnsley’s children deserve better.