So many of our biggest social problems have their roots at an early age, and many of the poorest in society are left behind with no hope of ever catching before they have even left school.
As a society I believe that it is our responsibility to guarantee every child equal access to a top quality education, regardless of their background or where they live. This commitment is the only way we can tackle entrenched poverty and deliver a fairer society which offers opportunity for all.
The good news is that investment in education is working to narrow the attainment gap and afford those from every background the opportunities they deserve in life. Liberal Democrat policies such as the Pupil Premium, which directs extra funding to those who need it the most, have played a vital role in this – but we must not become complacent.
In particular I believe that great teaching begins with great teachers; we need to do more to support and value teachers so that the best individuals stay energised and enthusiastic about teaching as a respected professional career. At the same time we need to embrace clear standards regarding what we can expect from our teachers; we should consider Qualified Teacher Status an absolute minimum for entry and ensure that all teachers are giving time, support, and access to high quality professional development opportunities.
Perhaps most importantly; we need to bring an end to decades of ideological interference by government ministers, establishing an independent Education Standards Authority responsible for overseeing our schools and developing a consistent core national curriculum that can’t be constantly meddled with by politicians who think they know better than experienced education professionals.