Barnoldswick and Earby Times, Colne Times and Nelson Leader Column from 21st June 2019

This week, students will be finishing their GCSE exams. The exam period can be stressful and I congratulate all Pendle students for getting through them.

Appropriately, this Wednesday was Thank a Teacher Day and I am sure those sitting exams will have done so. It was one of my teachers, Patsy Carlton who went on to be an MP herself, that inspired my interest in politics. So often, it is being inspired by a teacher that helps us find a career and not just exam success. Patsy is no longer with us but I will always be thankful to her.

GCSE results in Pendle have been steadily improving since 2014, thanks to the efforts of school teachers and staff as well as pupils. Indeed, schools across Pendle and Lancashire have seen some impressive developments in recent years. 114 more schools in Lancashire are now rated Good or Outstanding compared to 2010, thanks to improving schools like Pendle Community High School and College that have gone from being Good to Outstanding and Colne Primet Academy – a school that was struggling but has been turned around under new leadership and is now rated Good. 

It is also important that a variety of educational pathways are available to students as they think about their future careers. Going down the academic route of A levels will not always be the best option and technical careers can be just as rewarding. That’s why I welcome the introduction of T levels – technical qualifications equivalent to A levels – from next year at several colleges, including the excellent Nelson & Colne College.

Alongside the increase in apprenticeships, we are getting closer to ending the view that technical or vocational routes are less attractive to academic one. This is essential if we are to value all skills, make our country as productive as possible and rebalance our economy away from being reliant on services and cities like London. 

Helping the next generation develop the skills they will need remains one of my main priorities. I continue to push for investments in our local schools here in Pendle. I know every teacher wants to see our schools get even better. 

Again, congratulations to all students as they complete their GCSEs.