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Opinion: Getting the best deal for our sixth forms.

PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 April 2019

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

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Last week I attended a packed parliamentary debate about further education funding to highlight the challenges facing standalone sixth forms like Havering Sixth Form College in my constituency.

Funding per students aged 16 to 18 has seen the biggest squeeze of all in recent years, and we are keen to get that rectified at the forthcoming Spending Review so the college can better prepare students for the next stage of their careers or education.

Sixth forms not only equip young people with academic qualifications but can play a vital role in signposting them to different career paths via T Levels and apprenticeships.

When I was at school, vocational routes were too often looked upon as secondary to university.

Thankfully, we are finally waking up to the fact that satisfying, well-paid jobs come in many guises, and that employers are looking for a broader range of qualities.

As Havering Sixth Form seeks to merge with Havering College, there is a big opportunity to plug our education system into the new jobs coming down the line in our region.

Despite its strengths, the Thames Estuary has been consistently unable to deliver the same economic growth as other parts of the UK for the last few decades, and two years ago the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission was formed to rectify that.

I am delighted to announce that the government has now given the commission’s recommendations the green light with a new regional industrial strategy, a Cabinet-level ministerial champion and a whole host of other initiatives.

If we can really weave our educators into that plan, we will be giving our young people a true stake in the future of our area.

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