Full conference speech by Cllr Daisy Page
Conference, state education in Kent and across the country is suffering from a chronic shortage of school places under this Conservative Government, and I want to highlight to you today the lack of school places in my constituency of Dartford.
My constituents are being allocated school places miles away from their homes, after Kent County Council was awarded an extra 92 million pounds from the Department for Education in the Spring, in addition to the 27 million pounds already allocated for their 2015-2017 budget, to meet the need for more school places over the next three years.
Now, imagine my anger Conference when a secondary school in Dartford was closed by the secretary of state for Education after being allocated this increased funding, when we need more schools built and open, not closed, to provide adequate provision for our children. Only 1 in 5 children in Kent were offered a place at their first preference school this year. 3,174 children in Kent did not achieve their first, second or third choice school! Due to the shortage of secondary school places available in Dartford, for the first time, Kent County Council had to offer school places in the London Boroughs of Bexley and Bromley. We can’t let this happen again in Kent!
Conference, the education of our children and provision of our state education is at serious risk under this Tory Government. The smoke and mirrors of increased funding from the Department for Education to meet the need for more school places does not fool me, it doesn’t fool the people of Dartford and I know it does not fool you either, Conference.
I am sure many other delegates here today have similar stories to tell about what is happening to their local schools back home. So, Conference, I urge you to continue fighting as I have, as everyone across the country has, as my colleagues and friend in Dartford have too, to help make sure our children have access to local, state schools.
And I say to all the families and children that we have stood up for, rest assured that we, the Labour Party will continue to fight to protect our state school and to ensure that there is enough school places for our children.