Westminster’s newest schools sector MPs

Former teachers, a schools inspector and the chair of governors at a free school are among the new MPs welcomed into Westminster this week.

Just 24 of all 650 MPs in 2010 were former teachers, according to the National Foundation of Educational Research. This time a handful of the new intake will bring education experience to Westminster.

Of the 74 new Conservative MPs, Schools Week has found at least five with an education background.

William Wragg, who won Hazel Grove, Greater Manchester, with a 15.2 per cent majority, spent two years teaching before leaving to focus on his election campaign.

“I always wanted to do something different before getting into politics full time,” he told Schools Week.

“I was always interested in education and it was working in learning support that really awakened my interest in taking it further.”

He completed his training with TeachFirst and taught at St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, in Rochdale, from 2012-14.

Mr Wragg, who lives in his constituency, says he is broadly supportive of his party’s curriculum changes, but says schools should not be over-zealous in pursuing academy status. “Different types of schools can all work well in this education system.”

What will he miss the most about teaching? “Getting into school on a Monday morning and hearing the great stories from pupils about their weekends, and thriving in the environment of children as a live receptive audience.

“I have a less receptive audience now than I would at the front of a classroom!”

Caroline Ansell, the new MP for Eastbourne, was a teacher for 15 years, and is a governor at two schools and an independent schools inspector.

Writing on her website, she says that education was the “driving force” behind her parliamentary push. “Reform will always be with us,” she wrote. “Higher standards must be continually reached for and it’s a fast-changing world.

“Curriculums change, organisational structure too – but for me, one thing holds true. It’s still about people. Who doesn’t remember a good teacher?”

Suella Fernandes, who held Fareham, Hampshire, for the Conservatives, is a lawyer who co-founded the Michaela Community [Free] School in Brent, London, where she is now chair of governors.

She also set up the Africa Justice Foundation, a charity that supports legal education and training in Africa.

David Warburton, MP for Somerset and Frome, left school with three O-levels and worked as a cleaner and bouncer before studying music composition at the Royal College of Music.

He went on to teach music at a London school before setting up his own mobile phone ringtone company in the 90s.

Writing a blog last year, titled “My rant on music teaching in schools”, he called for “bringing back the proper teaching of music theory and history to every single school child”.

Over in Labour’s new cohort, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting is the former head of education at Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, where he headed homophobic and bullying workshops in schools.

Joan Ryan, who won back the Enfield seat she lost in 2010, taught at a number of schools in London, most recently, Hertford Regional College in Hertfordshire.


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