Saturday, 13 February 2010

Parent Power, Student Views

I am in the process of visiting as many schools and colleges as I can across Elmbridge - and will be raising a range of educational issues with Surrey County Council later in the month. If you have a concern or issue about primary or secondary schools in Elmbridge, please drop me a line.

On Friday, I visited Sarah Whittaker (from Claygate Class Action, a local parents group) and Andrew Paterson (Chair of the Board of Governors, Claygate Primary) for an update on the local secondary schools situation. They are hopeful that there will be enough places at Esher High and Hinchley Wood for their Year 6 pupils joining the September 2010 intake - and await confirmation from Surrey County Council in March.

I also visited Esher College, where I was briefed by Principal Keith Blackwell and Deputy Dan Dean, after which I met with students to hear their views. The College has an impressive mix of academic, sporting and arts facilities, and a vibrant campus feel. However, I heard particular concern about the lack of a level playing field - when it comes to comparing the college's performance against school 6th forms in the area - given the funding implications that follow.

Later, I met a group of students (see below), to hear how they are getting on. We discussed their personal aspirations and political priorities. I was impressed with their various achievements, and even more so their ambitions for the future. They all expressed frustration at the costs of pursuing further education (particularly the costs of rail travel), but were equally realistic given the current financial situation. When it comes to politics - and reaching out to a younger audience - they were unanimous on one piece of advice for me: if you want to reach people in their mid teens to early twenties, a Facebook site is essential ! My thanks to Keith and Dan for arranging the visit, and to the students for taking the time to discuss the issues on their minds.


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