Prioritising schools, prioritising standards. (Speech to Welsh Labour Conference 20 February 2016)

DSC00014-800This is the text of a speech delivered at Welsh Labour Conference, Llandudno, 20 February 2016.

Thank you Chair.

Conference, Jeremy Miles, Assembly candidate for Neath constituency.

Gyfeillion, mae’n dda cael y cyfle i annerch y gynhadledd prynhawn yma ar destun sydd yn agos iawn at fy nghalon.

The school I attended – sadly many years ago now – is in the Neath constituency – Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley and I had an opportunity a few weeks ago to go back to my old school when the Education Minister Huw Lewis visited – to see the transformation underway as a result of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools programme.

Gone was the draughty, rickety old teaching block where I had my Welsh and geography lessons, replaced by the skeleton of a state of the art building which will house science labs, design technology workshops and modern class rooms. In due course there will even be a second campus for the school at the other end of the borough.

This is a £17m investment in the educational future of the next generation.

When the work is complete, the school will be unrecognisable and will be ready to become a through school from 3-18 giving children access from the very start of their school journey to the best teaching and learning opportunities.

This is one of seven major education projects being developed between Neath Port Talbot and the Welsh Labour government. And it is not only happening in my area, it is happening all over Wales.

But let’s remember that we are rebuilding schools not for the sake of shiny buildings, but because we know that children learn best in surroundings which are designed for the modern curriculum and contemporary teaching practice.

And so it’s good to see that it isn’t only the fabric of our schools that’s improving.

This year, Neath Port Talbot students saw their best GCSE results ever.

All across Wales, we see schools being transformed and standards rising. And this isn’t happening by chance Conference, it is happening because a Welsh Labour party in government and across local government is prioritising schools, prioritising standards.

A Welsh Labour party making sure that the drastic cuts which have been made in our budget by the Tories will not be allowed to hold back our children.

Making sure that we invest in their futures.

And making sure – through Schools Challenge Cymru – that every part of the school system gets the support it needs.

One of our biggest responsibilities is to ensure that the attainment of our poorest children matches that of the better off.

So I’m delighted to see a commitment to further funding for school standards in our 6 key election pledges. Putting more money on the frontline to ensure that all our young people can reach their potential.

For many of us in this room, our commitment to a decent education for all is the reason we are in politics.

And we can be proud of our record in government, as we ask people for their support this May. Thank you.