Category Archives: Education

Surrey County Council “acutely aware” of the crisis they have caused in our schools

The Surrey Advertiser has covered the overcrowding in Surrey’s infant classes which came to light in my recent research:

Surrey Ad 20 June on class sizes

The Tory council say they are “acutely aware” of the problem. They should have been “acutely aware” that this crisis was going to happen years ago and should have done something about it. Surrey’s youngest pupils are suffering due to the council’s neglect of their responsibilities. This probably does not affect many Tory councillors’ families, who will be able to afford private schools for their grandchildren.

By awarding themselves 60% pay hikes, the Tory leadership of Surrey County Council have added insult to injury to the parents and pupils of Surrey.

Infants in Over-crowded Classes Soar In Surrey by 122%

Press Statement from Richard Wilson, Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Guildford
13 June 2014 – For immediate release

The number of infants in large classes of over 30 pupils has increased by 951 in Surrey since 2010.

In January 2010 there were 779 infant pupils in large classes and the figure is now 1,730, an increase of 122%.

Richard Wilson, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Guildford, said, “Over-crowded infant classes pose a real threat to children’s education and wellbeing. As the son of two teachers, I know the additional pressures that large class sizes place on teachers too.”
Before the General Election, David Cameron promised “small schools with smaller class sizes”.
But the new figures released on Thursday 12 June show it’s a promise they have failed to deliver.
Richard Wilson said: “Conservative Surrey County Council is failing pupils and parents. Infant class sizes are soaring and there is a shortage of school places for all ages. Local parents tell me that they cannot get places for their children in their preferred, nearby, state schools because the council has failed to provide enough places. This is a crisis for the families affected who will now face difficult school runs every day. This comes as leading councillors award themselves 60% pay hikes.

“Surrey has a critical shortage of school places while millions are being wasted elsewhere in the South East on Free Schools where there is a surplus of places. A future Labour Government will prioritise new school places in areas where there are shortages, have rigorous local oversight of schools and ensure that all teachers have or are working towards qualified teacher status.”


Government statistics from 2010 (see Table 14b)

Government statistics from 2014 (see Table 11)
Number of infants in large classes (over 30)

Difference 2010-14
% change 2010-14
Bracknell Forest
Brighton and Hove
East Sussex
Isle of Wight
Milton Keynes
West Berkshire
West Sussex
Windsor and Maidenhead

In their 2010 manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to create “small schools with smaller class sizes”.
A Conservative government will give many more children access to the kind of education that is currently only available to the well-off: safe classrooms, talented and specialist teachers, access to the best curriculum and exams, and smaller schools with smaller class sizes with teachers who know the children’s names.
Conservative Party Manifesto 2010, p. 51
David Cameron said in 2008 that it was “important to have small schools” so that children don’t “get lost”:
“…the more we can get class sizes down the better. It is also important to have small schools. Some schools have got so big that the children get lost in them. …What I want most in a primary school is one where the headteacher knows my child’s name and they’re not part of some enormous mass. You want your child to go somewhere where they can feel warm and safe and loved and identified.”
David Cameron, Yorkshire Post Q&A, 18 April 2008
David Cameron has created a crisis in primary school places. Two-thirds of all the places created by the Free School programme (aggregate figure for both primary and secondary) are not in the areas most in need of primary places.
NAO, Establishing Free Schools, 11 December 2013,
Last month, it was revealed that Michael Gove had diverted £400 million away from areas in need of new primary places to fund his Free School programme.
The Guardian, 10 May 2014,
In 2012 Michael Gove relaxed the rules on class sizes and the 30 pupil limit introduced by Labour.
“Schools can breach the limit in exceptional circumstances for 12 months on the proviso that numbers are brought down the following year.
But that requirement has now disappeared from the School Admissions (Infant Class Sizes) Regulations – quietly introduced a year ago – in a move that gives heads more freedom to maintain 30-plus lessons for a number of years without having to employ more teachers.
School leaders have admitted that growing numbers of heads were preparing to take advantage of the rule change to increase class sizes.”
Telegraph, 7 April 2013,

Richard Wilson
Parliamentary Candidate
Guildford Labour Party
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Promoted by Alex Wilks on behalf of Richard Wilson, both of 9b Martyr Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LF

Support Guildford’s Teaching Assistants

A recent Labour Prime Minister once said his top three priorities were “Education, Education, Education”. If we are to tackle the massive inequality in our society we need to ensure everyone has the best education possible.image

Teaching assistants have a vital role in classrooms to help children develop educationally and socially. They support teachers by preparing lesson materials, helping pupils who need individual attention, supervising outdoors activity, and in many other ways.

However, now teaching assistants are under attack from Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. He has derided them as a “mum’s army” and may reduce their numbers. This would be devastating for state schools, especially those with high numbers of pupils with special needs.image

The union representing teaching assistants, the GMB, is asking all parliamentary candidates to show their support for teaching assistants. I feel strongly that it is in the best interests of pupils in Guildford that teaching assistants are retained and supported. I will be joining GMB members outside school gates to collect signatures on a petition calling for this, and to discuss with parents how valuable teaching assistants are.image

When you are collecting your child from school please come over and sign our petition and show you support teaching assistants and the work they do.




2014-05-09 10.24.36 2014-05-08 14.17.10

It was a great pleasure to join the GMB outside Holy Trinity School in Guildford yesterday. Thank you to all the parents and education workers who signed the petition and stopped to chat. Teaching assistants are hugely valued and Michael Gove’s attack on them is unwarranted.

Our Responsibility to Future Voters

I was very pleased today to be invited to speak at the assembly of the Duke of Kent School in Ewhurst. Young people are finding they are less and less of a priority for government and policy makers. I feel we have a responsibility to help them regain democratic influence and power.

The Duke of Kent School

The Duke of Kent School

Yesterday’s budget showed starkly the political reality that older people are much more likely to vote than younger ones. George Osborne offered a cash bribe to pensioners, one of many. He will subsidise the interest rates they receive on their savings. Over-65s will have state money added to the market rates if they are lucky enough to have spare cash, for them only. This imbalance in democratic power is out in the open and its cause is undisputed. I have written about this before.

I spoke to the pupils about how they will need to use their voice, but not just for themselves. The Duke of Kent School is a private school and the pupils receive a privileged education. This means they have a responsibility for others who are less fortunate through no fault of their own.

There were some really good questions from pupils after my speech. I was asked about Labour’s taxation policy, the armed forces, affordable housing, immigration, my job as an airline pilot. I was even asked about Ed Balls’ performance on that morning’s Today Programme.

It was very pleasing to see that school pupils have such an interest in current affairs. This is vital for the years to come when the temptation of policy makers will be to continue to chase the pensioner vote at the expense of the next generation.

Teachers are heroes – support their strike today

Teaching is one of the most important professions in this country. Teachers are dedicated to giving the nation’s children the best possible start in life. What could be more important than that?

Today, teachers in Surrey Heath and in many other areas are striking and schools are closed. They are doing that as a last resort to protect their profession and their pupils.

Both of my parents were teachers so I know how hard they work, both at school and at home in the evenings and at weekends. Teachers have to prepare lessons and mark pupils’ work for hours and hours every week. They meet parents and treat every child as special and worthy of the best education they can provide. Teachers need to have graduated from university then complete a postgraduate course in teaching followed by a long probation period. They choose to go into teaching when they could earn more and have less stress by going into other jobs. The rest of us should be very grateful that they are prepared to make this sacrifice for the nation’s children.

The MP for Surrey Heath, Michael Gove, is also the Education Secretary. He has been attacking teachers and the education system since he took office. He proposes lower pay and much lower pensions for teachers, along with even higher workloads. He has allowed unqualified teachers into state schools which has endangered children such as at the Al-Medinah Free School. He has created the school places crisis where parents, including in Surrey Heath, can’t get their children into any of their preferred schools.

Teachers are heroes and striking is their last resort. This is their hour of need. I’m supporting them today, please show your support too.

Sophia James

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