Without giving it much thought, a consistent thread runs through my life – education.
Starting with school, of course, college in London was followed by a PhD at Brighton Polytechnic.
After the Royal Navy, as an officer instructing “stuff”, I spent 28 years teaching the maintenance of flight simulators.
Only now, as the leader of Brighton and Hove Conservatives, have I “dropped out” of education.
I have previously described how the Conservative government required schools to use phonics, against instinctive scaremongering from Labour, and that those schoolchildren in England, wholly educated under a Conservative government, now have the best reading skills in a generation.
Enlightened Conservative policies always receive a torrent of abuse from Labour until they actually start to work: at this point Labour move on to another topic, trying to scare us once again.
Political parties elected on scaremongering are eventually caught out.
Locally, Labour is playing a similar game. But the real problem across Brighton and Hove is their chaotic administration of the city.
A few weeks ago I noticed that, as a new secondary school for the city would no longer be required, the Labour administration had £15 million of government money wallowing in the bank, available to deliver “basic need” school places, which the Labour administration had failed to notice.
I submitted an amendment to a meeting of the finance committee, requesting the children’s committee spend the £15 million on our schools as soon as possible: to address any future spikes in pupil numbers, fund a SEN (special educational needs) reorganisation and, crucially, solve the immediate problem of the “Misplaced 38”.
Labour, caught napping, came late to the party by attempting a “spoiler” amendment at the last minute. This would have caused chaos across the education sector.
Conservatives members agreed to a compromise with Greens, and eventually Labour (who in a rather bizarre twist brought along a political manifesto to the debate), and the problems of funding are now being addressed.
It appears that, in my new role, I have not lost touch with providing a good education for those that need it most.
Councillor Tony Janio is the leader of the opposition Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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