I was delighted to welcome Tristram Hunt to the constituency on Friday. Our first visit was to Durham University’s Queen’s Campus on Teesdale, an excellent addition to Higher Education on Teesside which opened in 1992. We were welcomed by Professor Robin Coningham, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Social Sciences & Health, Professor Ian Greener, Deputy Head of Faculty and Jan Illing, Co-director of the Medical Education Research Group. Tristram spoke to a group of academics and students from the different faculties including Social Sciences and Health, the Foundation Centre, the School of Education as well as both Joint Common Room Presidents.
The Shadow Secretary took the audience through Labour’s Education Policy, talking about his childcare pledge for early years children, a plan for independent directors for school standards, better careers advice and the drive for technical and vocational excellence in education.
I chaired a Q and A where Tristram took questions about the quality of English literature teaching, the future of Higher Education in Teacher Training, tuition fees, strategies for tackling poverty for schools, the baccalaureate, the fall in recruitment of medical students and teachers’ paperwork mountains amongst others. We then spent some time informally talking over a fine buffet lunch. I have promised to go back and spend some time with the Junior Common Room Presidents and also to secure a visit from one of Labour’s health team to look at the excellent programme for engaging medical students in local Stockton South GP practices.
A very big thank you to everyone for their warm welcome and hospitality. We each came away with some useful thoughts to take forward.
Our next stop was door knocking nearby in Thornaby where by happy chance Tristram and I met a couple with two small children who were much enthused by our pledge to offer 25 hours free childcare each week for working parents. Mum said this would enable her to get back to work which would be a big boost to their family finances. There is nothing more satisfying than having an offer to make to people that will make the precisely the difference they need in their lives.
We were joined by a big team of local members who enjoyed meeting Tristram very much. Members always appreciate having access to leading politicians and although our campaign team is always enthusiastic and engaged, it put an extra spring in their step.
An excellent visit, thanks Tristram!