I spent my summer holiday with various brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces (and, yes, I have to admit a great-niece too) on the beautiful island of Colonsay on the west coast of Scotland.
I have been going there most summers since I was a child and one of the things I love most about it is its isolation. The CalMac ferries from Oban make the two-and-a-quarter hour journey to the island most days, but not every day. And even now, in 2015, the only sporadic internet coverage is to be found in the Colonsay Hotel.
Every morning and evening I had a little ritual: I would walk up to the top of the hill behind the house where we were staying and check the text messages on my phone. Looking out to the famous Paps of Jura, I got news of the exam results achieved by young people in Grantham’s schools – and they made my day.
We all have a stake in the performance of young people at school – not just because we want them to have rewarding jobs and fulfilling lives but because we are all going to depend on their hard work and ingenuity to pay for our pensions and the NHS, when we get old. So we should all congratulate the students and teachers at Grantham’s schools for their remarkable achievement.
For me personally, it was especially satisfying to see the huge improvement in the performance of students at the Charles Read Academy – which a few years ago was threatened with closure and, in only two years, under the umbrella of the David Ross Education Trust, has increased the number of students achieving five A*-C grades in GCSES, including maths and English, from 32 to 53 per cent.
I was also delighted by the stunning progress of students at the Priory Ruskin Academy. In its amazing new building, which the Government was able to find the money for despite the general climate of public spending cuts, 70 per cent of its students achieved five A*-C grades in GCSEs, and made outstanding levels of progress in English.
Most of what governments do is quickly forgotten. But long after I have stopped being Grantham’s MP, I will be proud of what the Government’s education reforms, and in particular what our commitment to outstanding academy groups like the David Ross Educational Trust and the Priory Federation, has helped the next generation achieve.