Dudley Chronicle, 7 August

We had great news from Priory School last week, now let's push for all local school to be good or outstanding.


Great news! Priory School has just been rated "good" by Ofsted, with inspectors saying it’s on track to be outstanding.

What a phenomenal achievement by the school's brilliant Head teacher Jill Bennett who has worked so hard to turn the school around after it ended up in special measures a couple of years ago. We should all be congratulating Ms Bennett, her staff, the governors, parents, pupils and everyone else who have turned the school around.

We've got to get behind heads and teachers like her who are working hard to improve local schools. It’s been a similar story at Ellowes Hall. Results are improving at Castle High and Dormston is being turned around too, and I don’t see why every school should not be aiming to be a good or outstanding school.

It just shows that we are as good as anyone. With the right support, young people from Dudley can do just as well as those anywhere else.

Why should children born in Dudley face worse education prospects than children born elsewhere in the country? I am determined to change this by making education our number one priority in Dudley to bring better schools, better skills and better jobs to the area.

There's no reason why we shouldn't set the ambition for Dudley and the Black Country to have the biggest improvement in schools standards in the country. These results show that we can do it.


I regularly visit local schools to talk about the work that I do and how students with an interest in politics, the media or public relations can get involved. I always offer work experience opportunities in Dudley and Westminster and I have never turned anyone down.

I know lots of other local businesses do the same, and it's a great way for young people to get a foot on the ladder or find out more about a career they are interested in.

That's why I was really pleased to be awarded a gold certificate for youth friendly employment practices from Youth Employment UK. The charity works to tackle youth employment by encouraging employers to engage with young people, something that's particularly important here in Dudley where long-term youth unemployment is twice the national average.

I want as many local firms as possible to apply for their youth friendly badge following the example of businesses like Thomas Dudley Ltd and its Careers in the Classroom scheme.

The scheme provides schools with presentations from local professionals and businesses, as well as a website with careers advice for students. I recently had the opportunity to record my own careers video with Philippa Rowley from Thomas Dudley talking about getting into politics.

The great thing about Careers in the Classroom is that students get to see local people talking about their jobs, showing them the career they want is within reach.


Last week the Government finally listened to local people's concerns and announced long-overdue action to tackle UK jobs being advertised abroad benefits for EU migrants.

These are both issues that I have been campaigning on for a long time, so I'm pleased that 60,000 West Midlands jobs will no longer be advertised abroad and that there will be new limits on benefits for migrants.

But the truth is it's too little too late. I revealed the number of local jobs being advertised overseas more than a year ago, and I've been calling for benefit restrictions for even longer than that.

I think that immigration has brought benefits to Britain. But I think if you want to live here you’ve got to be prepared to work hard and pay your way, and I share concerns about the impact immigration has had on people in Dudley and the Black Country.

That's why I have always supported measures like the last Government's introduction of an Australian-style points system, and I think there's still much more we can do. People shouldn’t be able to work in Britain and send back tax credits. They shouldn’t be able to come to Britain and be unemployed. And they shouldn’t be able to come to Britain as soon as their country joins the EU.

I think we can stop these abuses by putting linking benefits with working people's contributions. If you have always worked hard and contributed taxes then you should be entitled to more help than someone who has never worked and never contributed.

That way we can make sure that the system is fair to local people who work hard and want to get on in life.