Education always features prominently in election campaigns and rightly so. My interest, however, goes far beyond my role as a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate.
As the father of three small children, it is deeply personal. I want to be sure that, when they each start school, they will able to attend well-funded local schools, which meet the highest standards of teaching and facilities.
I therefore warmly welcome my party’s commitment to provide an additional £14 billion of cash funding to schools, much of which will be invested in those in deprived areas.
A further £700 million will be used to help children with special needs and disabilities.
Importantly, funds will be provided to increase salaries for new teachers to £30,000 and to strengthen the teachers’ pension scheme.
Free schools and academies are educational success stories and based on a very successful Swedish model.
Nevertheless, there are still too many state schools, including some in Brighton and Hove, which are unable to provide the high standards of education that all of our children deserve.
This can be the result of underfunding, oversized classes caused by population pressures, overworked teachers and inadequate school buildings.
There are thousands of free schools and academies operating in the country, with many more in the pipeline.
The majority are in deprived areas and provide opportunities to disadvantaged children to obtain high-quality education.
Like their Swedish counterparts, they consistently outperform conventional state schools.
Labour would abolish free schools and academies despite there being numerous hugely popular examples in the city – not least the Bilingual Primary School, the King’s School and PACA.
I think that an open mind should be kept when deciding what is best in any particular situation – ideology should be left at the school gate.
On the subject of choice, Labour’s ideological campaign against independent schools (“private schools”) and their assets is already well known and documented, as are their plans for punitive tax penalties against parents who send their children there.
Most in education agree that an attack on independent schools would simply lead to fewer resources for state schools.
Finally, the majority of parents in Britain consider Ofsted to be a reliable judge of school standards and make their choices accordingly.
Nevertheless, the Labour Party wants to abolish it and pass the primary responsibility for health checks on schools to local councils.
As a councillor, mindful of what is achievable locally, I would be extremely concerned at this prospect.
Robert Nemeth is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hove at the general election.