This month, as children head back to school for the start of a new term, schools are facing a more difficult job than ever.
Committed and brilliant teachers, headteachers and support staff work incredibly hard to give our children the best start in life they can, but government failures are making it an uphill battle.
Years of missed government targets for recruiting new trainees have caused chronic teacher shortages, and nearly 35,000 teachers left the profession in 2016 alone, pointing to deeper problems of demoralised staff and unbearable workloads.
Class sizes continue to soar, and the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is widening. Cuts to school budgets have even driven schools to ask for donations from parents so that they can afford to buy books – in Brighton and Hove alone, schools will lose £14 million.
This is nothing short of a crisis, and it is our children’s futures that is being put at risk. As someone who left school at 16 with no qualifications, and had to return to the classroom aged 25 to sit my A Levels, I know how important it is to get education right the first time. Sadly, not everyone is lucky enough to get a second chance.
Young people today are more aware of the opportunities in modern Britain and further afield than any other generation. They have more access to information and, I believe, are the most committed to getting a good education too. But we as a society are failing to match the ambition young people have for themselves. We’re letting them down.
We also owe it to our teachers and those who work in education to take these issues seriously and tackle the problems in recruitment and retention at their root.
With a new term beginning in Westminster, it’s time for the government to take action to end this crisis and invest in our children’s futures. I’ll be continuing to work alongside the brilliant local campaigning group Save Our Schools, and with my Labour colleagues in Parliament to call on the Tories to stop the cuts to school budgets, extend free school meals and get classes down, to ensure that all children receive the high quality education they deserve.
Peter Kyle is the Labour MP for Hove,