This week marks for many the end of the school year. It has certainly not been a straightforward one, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the pupils, teachers, and parents across the constituency who have all worked tremendously hard to ensure our children have continued to learn and that the return to school was safe.
The pandemic has sadly meant children have suffered from being out of the classroom, and while we cannot repair this loss of education overnight, I know our local schools are taking all action possible – and I will continue to support them in every way I can. Helping our schools and our teachers is an absolute priority for me, and it has been wonderful over the last few weeks to speak and meet many of the pupils and teachers locally.
On Monday I visited Orchards Academy in Swanley to celebrate the brilliant news that we have now secured funding from the Government’s Rebuilding programme. The news marks the end of a yearlong campaign which I have led, with support from Kent County Councillor Perry Cole, Swanley Town Council Leader (and local St Mary’s ward member) Michael Horwood and local district council member for St Mary’s Lesley Dyball. I presented a petition in the House of Commons calling for Orchards Academy to be rebuilt, which was signed by a total of 1,333 signatures from residents across Swanley and Hextable, I asked both the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson about the funding in the chamber in recent months, and held separate follow up meetings with the department. I am so pleased that the campaign has been successful, and that the pupils and teachers of the school will now get the school building they deserve.
Last week I also met Year Six pupils from Chevening Primary School to answer their questions on the environment. The meeting followed a series of letters I received from the pupils last year and raised with the Secretary of State for the Environment in the House of Commons chamber. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the pupils, and their wonderful teacher, Mrs Edwards. And I was also honoured to be invited to formally open the new outdoor learning area at New Ash Green Primary School. It was great to be shown around by teacher Mrs Taylor and some of the pupils and see this new fantastic resource, which I hope many pupils will benefit from over the years.
I will continue to do all I can support our schools locally so do please get in touch with any thoughts or suggestions. I wish all parents, teachers, and students across Sevenoaks a wonderful summer break.