I was delighted to join many hundreds of people in Romsey – and indeed elsewhere in the constituency – to welcome The Flying Scotsman on Saturday, it was a rare treat to see such a majestic piece of engineering steam through Romsey from Salisbury to Southampton as part of its historic tour of the country.
Since the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament last week, there have been a series of debates on specific areas of the upcoming legislative agenda. In my capacity as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Transport Minister, I spent an afternoon in the debate on transport last week, however in that role I am not able to speak in the Chamber. On Wednesday however, I did manage to speak on the subject of education, one which has been particularly controversial since the announcements surrounding academies in the Budget in March. It has certainly been no secret that Members of Parliament on all sides of the House were concerned about the original plans, however I am pleased that the Department of Education has listened to these concerns and acted on them.
I support academies, I know that the two highest performing schools in my constituency are both academies, and they do a brilliant job of supporting bright young people in order to fulfil their potential. Both Mountbatten and Romsey Schools collaborate with local business people, they foster talent, encourage students to learn musical instruments, to travel, to play competitive sport to the highest level, to dance and sing, to paint – I celebrate the freedoms they have, and the role they play in making sure Romsey’s young people are as fully equipped to face the world that they possibly can be. But that does not mean the schools in my constituency that are not academies do not do the same, and I welcome that they are to be given more time to make choices about whether to academise or not.