Levelling-up is a phrase you hear all the time on the news or read about in the newspapers. It’s central to the Government’s political agenda, based on the manifesto commitments given at the last General Election. We made it clear that we had to look beyond getting Brexit done and use that opportunity to bring new benefits across the country.
But many people ask me exactly what does “levelling up” means for us here in Great Yarmouth. I could list the financial investment that the Government has given to back key projects in and around the town. Millions are being pumped into our area with our local councils leading the way in making transformational changes.
However, I would like to look at what levelling up means for our young people and their education. A highlight of being your Member of Parliament is the invitations to visit the schools and colleges in the constituency. I’ve recently visited East Norfolk Sixth Form to talk about life as an MP and minister. I faced a ferocious grilling from students, which is always more unnerving than being interviewed by our top journalists on the Today programme. I was invited by pupils at Ormiston Cliff Park Primary Academy to listen to their environmental concerns and excellent suggestions as to how we can all play a part to tackle climate change. I saw future politicians, campaigners, and leaders in that school hall in Gorleston. We have excellent schools across the constituency, with dedicated and hard-working teachers.
Yet, our schools were acutely affected by the various restrictions introduced to tackle the pandemic. Levelling up means our schools will receive the funding and support to recover from the pandemic. For example, new plans revealed this week will see all children who have fallen behind in maths and English receive extra support. Improving literacy and numeracy are key to closing the attainment gap and providing good employment opportunities. And schools will be supported to deliver a longer average school week so that children can enjoy a rounded education. All of this is backed up with extra funding, as Norfolk is getting additional targeted financial support to tackle local challenges. That’s levelling up in action, making sure no child is left behind, whatever their family background or circumstances.