OUR schools in the Stroud Valleys and Vale are among the most valuable public sector assets we have because they are the places where young people are equipped for their and, by extension, our futures.
The teachers in those schools play an essential part in shaping opportunities for us all.
Despite the urgent task of dealing with the serious task of reducing our national deficit and rebalancing our economy, the coalition government has invested in education and this, in turn, has brought good news for our schools.
To tackle the need for more school places, £25.8 million has been directed to Gloucestershire.
This matters as some schools are oversubscribed and population projections indicate even more pressure on overall pupil numbers.
A further £36.7 million is available for school repairs.
Like all functional and well used buildings, schools must be properly maintained, especially as modern teaching and learning environments require certain standards.
This fund is also available for remedial work including dealing with asbestos eradication as necessary. It is not just investment in classrooms that matters.
The drive to ensure more and more pupils take the subjects more likely to secure them a good job is also a priority.
The coalition government introduced the EBacc – recognising pupils studying English, maths, two sciences, a language and history or geography – to encourage more core subjects at GCSE.
This measure has resulted in a step change in numbers taking core GCSE subjects with 31 per cent of all pupils reaching or exceeding the EBacc target.
Another boost for local children has been the introduction of the Pupil Premium – targeted on disadvantaged pupils – bringing an extra £5.4 million to the Valleys and Vale.
The pupil premium is additional funding given to publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers.
Pupil premium funding is paid according to the number of pupils who have been registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years or who have been in care for six months or longer.
To ensure all this extra money is effectively spent, schools are rigorously inspected by the inspection regime, known as Ofsted. So far, 45 schools in the Valleys and Vale have been rated good or outstanding by the much more forensic inspectors. Congratulations to those schools. The Education Select Committee, I am a member, has investigated all of these policy changes.
While more still needs to be done, we are on the right track.