Chance to give credit where due

John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, talks to pupils during his visit to Beckfoot School in Bingley.
15th January 2016.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.
John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, talks to pupils during his visit to Beckfoot School in Bingley. 15th January 2016. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

It’s a well-worn cliché that our children are our future, and I have no doubt it is one the vast majority of us would subscribe to.

So it follows that it behoves us to do all we can to make sure that the lives of our young people get off to the best possible start.

Young people don’t get the credit they deserve. We know, however, that they are doing good things from the moment they go into nurseries until the day they leave school, and we should be shouting from the rooftops about their achievements.

This process starts in the home, before moving on to the milestone that is the first day at nursery or school, when our children are ushered into our learning system that will educate them through their formative, then teenage years, and perhaps on to university or further education college.

When I became Wansbeck’s Member of Parliament one of my first priorities was to try to visit every school in my constituency, and I am pleased to say I have managed to visit most of them. The overriding thing that has struck me is what a good job they are all doing.

Dedicated teachers, supported by caring governors, parents and guardians, are working to ensure young people achieve to the best of their ability, with the majority getting the results that will lead to further education or a decent, sustainable job.

In addition, sport, music and drama, among a host of extra-curriculum activities, as well as work to help the vulnerable and less fortunate in their communities, and even on an international scale, are making our young people well-rounded citizens that we can all be proud of.

Sometimes young people don’t get the credit they deserve. We know, however, that they are doing good things from the moment they go into nurseries until the day they leave school, and we should be shouting from the rooftops about their achievements.

So imagine my delight when I was asked by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow to invite every school in my constituency to consider taking part in an awards’ scheme run in his name by the Parliamentary Education Council.

The Speaker’s School Council Awards celebrate the achievements of school councils around the UK in bringing about positive change in their school or community.

The initiative is open to every infant, primary and secondary school, sixth form college and Special Educational Needs school, and the winning projects will be chosen from four age groups — four to seven-year-olds, eight to 11-year-olds, 11 to 16-year-olds and 17 to 19-year-olds.

Every school that enters receives a web badge, and the winners are invited to the Houses of Parliament for a prize-giving ceremony in the Speaker’s State Apartments.

Mr Bercow told me: “Over the past six years I have been inspired by the real difference school councils have been able to make. We have received over 1,000 entries in this time, with projects varying from work with the elderly, promoting healthy eating, tackling cyber bullying, being safe at school, raising awareness about medical conditions, disability and mental health issues, and sustainability initiatives.

“I have always considered it a great honour to judge the awards and celebrating school councils by promoting this exciting opportunity.”

This year Mr Speaker wants to hear about projects initiated by school councils that they are proud of, whether big or small. Each project must have made a difference by showing how much can be achieved when young people work together and demonstrate the huge impact school councils can have.

Entries open on Monday, February 22 until Monday, May 16. Schools can find out more by calling 0207 219 6260 or emailing speakersschoolcouncilawards@parliament.uk. Schools need to register their interest to start the process.

I know from my travels around Wansbeck that there are schools that could enter with great confidence of doing well, and I sincerely hope they take the opportunity to do so.

If I can help, I can be contacted through my constituency office on 01670 852494.