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Column: The Tories are failing our children”

Under the Conservatives, children in Wakefield and across the UK are being let down by an education system quite literally coming apart at the seams.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen the impact of thirteen years of Conservative rule with over 100 schools forced to close due to buildings containing the unsafe reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

More widely, the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates that 700,000 children in England are being taught in buildings in need of major repairs.

In May, I spoke in Parliament about Highfield School in Ossett, which I visited earlier this year. Although not built with RAAC, the disrepair to their buildings has caused numerous occasions when water seeped into their roof space, causing the ceilings to collapse.

Despite the widespread disrepair in our school buildings, only 1 out of the 47 schools in the Wakefield constituency is on the Government’s school rebuilding programme.

It was Conservative Ministers - including the current Schools Minister - who did away with Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme. This would have rebuilt every secondary school in this country. It is Conservative Ministers now who are letting this chaos continue at the expense of our children’s education, and even their personal safety.

A full, urgent audit is required to find out the extent that Conservative Ministers failed to replace dangerous RAAC in our public buildings. The next Labour government will ensure public buildings are fit for purpose and the public is kept safe.

If letting our schools crumble wasn’t enough, the Tories have also presided over a children's mental health crisis which is widening the gap between rich and poor.

In May, we saw urgent referrals of under-18s to mental health crisis teams reach over 3,500 for the first time. This is on top of data showing that in the same month, there were 466,250 referrals to children and young people’s mental health services.

Despite this crisis, the Government continues to sit on their hands with only 53.5% of secondary schools set to have mental health support teams by the end of 2024.

Labour will create an open-access mental health hub for our children and young people in every community. We will introduce professional support for every secondary school to give our children and young people the mental health support they need and deserve.

With the growing number of crises hitting our schools, it’s hard not to conclude that the Conservatives are happy to see the managed decline of educational standards and support for our pupils.

Labour is showing that there is an alternative, it is possible to be hopeful for our children. Hopeful that their aspiration and hard work will be rewarded and that they have an education system which will support them and a future they can look forward to.

The Tories seem content to let crisis after crisis tear apart the opportunities for pupils up and down the country. Only Labour has a proper plan to break down barriers to opportunity for our children and young people and create an education system fit for the future.


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