Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

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Newham Recorder Column: Fighting for more education funds

Many of you know I’m a big fan of crime novels. This year I’ve packed “Sunday Morning Coming Down;” By Nicci French, Claire Evans’s debut novel “The Fourteenth Letter” and “A Necessary Evil,” by Abir Mukherjee. I loved his debut, “A Rising Man,” that introduced a Scotland Yard detective, newly arrived in Calcutta to join the police, who becomes embroiled in the politics of Empire whilst attempting to solve a murder.

I always include history and politics, too. This year it’s “Martin Luther,” by Lyndal Roper, “Elizabeth: The Later Years,” by John Guy, complementing Elizabeth Fremantle’s “The Girl in the Glass Tower,” a fictional retelling of the life of Arbella Stuart, who almost became Queen after Elizabeth I.

The importance of getting a child to be fluent and enjoy reading cannot be overestimated.

The department for education’s Reading for Pleasure report, 2012, highlighted that importance, both for educational purposes and for personal development.

The more children read, the more they enjoy it. Reading enjoyment could be more significant for educational success than almost anything else.

The report claims regular reading outside school ensures children get higher marks in reading assessments, become more emotionally well-rounded and acquire increased general knowledge.

I think the government report is right. What a pity too few government ministers and advisors appear to have read it. If they had, surely they wouldn’t have proposed swingeing cuts to Newham schools.

Countrywide, school libraries and reading schemes would have been sacrificed to keep class sizes down. We’d all have been much the poorer for it.

Labour’s campaign to fund schools properly means those education changes have been quietly shelved. Theresa May realised they would be too unpopular to put to Parliament.

I’ll continue fighting for Labour’s plan to invest in our schools, keep class sizes to less than 30 for all five to seven-year-olds and give schools the funding to invest in good reading schemes and make sure pupils receive at least the same life chances I did. 

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