The National Union of Teachers decision to choose St Albans for last night’s Hertfordshire education hustings in St Albans gave an early outing for the St Albans General Election candidates.
The event was held at Townsend School before a 100-strong audience and the panel was chaired by David Marley of the Times Education Supplement. Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, was joined by Claire Robins, Head of Sir John Lawes School, together with myself, Kerry Pollard and Anne Main.
It was a most interesting discussion. As well as having some local responsibility for education as a county councillor, I have just stopped being a consumer of education as a parent, I was previously a school governor, my mother and grandmother were teachers, my brother is a teacher and my daughter is currently training to be one – so I think I have some skin in the game!
Subjects covered last night included teachers’ workloads, how to tackle schools which need improvement, the pitfalls of performance related pay (where I was able to relate how difficult it is to do this fairly and effectively in the private sector even with massive HR departments to help), and what more support can be given to help with young people’s mental health issues.
Of course I was there to talk about Liberal Democrat successes in government including the hugely innovative Pupil Premium and free school meals for early years pupils. But I also took away a lot of food for thought, which is a tribute to the audience and the way the occasion was organised.
It won’t be the last time that I share a platform with Kerry and Anne over the next few months – I hope future events similarly share light as well as heat. And if you want to know more about what Liberal Democrats have done in spite of our coalition partners, do take a moment to read The Gove Files.