We’ve been working towards Back to School and Back to Parliament in the Ansell household this week.
Although parents are now running the gauntlet for uniform and school shoes, for many, holiday childcare will have been a running challenge these last weeks and there will be a sigh of relief at the prospect of a return to term time.
Less so perhaps for our dedicated teachers, there’s something monumental about those first few days before and after the big ‘return’.
There will be excited but some anxious children and studies are suggesting that in that regards, the long break can be unhelpful.
So, there’s been the usual coverage of that old perennial, “are summer holidays too long?”
It’s long since forgotten that the term structure was designed around the harvest and the need for all hands - including the youngest - to set about the task.
As I take up my new role chairing a backbench Education committee, I already have a deal to consider on the agenda - but the structure of the school year will probably not make the cut.
The stir around grammar schools will undoubtedly feature, and the startling statistic that more than one little boy in five starts school unable to ‘speak properly’.
Looking ahead at the scheme of work for this new Parliamentary term, aka The Queen’s Speech, there is much to consider.
Giving her first speech outside Downing Street, Eastbourne-born PM Theresa May committed her Government to improving life chances for all and tackling inequality.
This is most welcome, and as we await what this will look like, eyes will turn to the Children and Social Work Bill – a piece of legislation that will, amongst other things, cut the waiting times for adopting a child, and tip the balance in favour of permanent adoption, helping to give children greater stability in their formative years.
Parliament will also scrutinise the Lifetime Savings Bill, which will introduce a new ‘Help to Save’ scheme, supporting those on the lowest income who are trying to save for a rainy day; it will also see a ‘Lifetime ISA’ created, which will encourage the next generation to simultaneously save for their first home and for a more secure retirement – without having to choose one over the other.
There will be other bills and pieces of legislation to consider too. The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (aka the ‘Sugar Tax’), the return of the much changed Investigatory Powers Bill, and sweeping reforms to ensure our prisons are places of rehabilitation will all be on a packed agenda…
Having spent the parliamentary recess on the Sunshine Coast, very happily engaged with casework and local events, now contemplating the London commute, who said that summer holidays are too long?!