Author Archives: Sarah Teather

Sarah Teather MP writes… More two-year olds to get free early education, thanks to Lib Dems in Government

Sarah Teather and Nick Clegg visit Church Street Nursery
Sarah Teather and Nick Clegg with children at Church Street Nursery. Photo: Department for Education.

When the dust has settled from the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement I hope that one of the things that Liberal Democrats will remember will be the doubling of the offer of free early years education for two-year olds.

In last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review Nick Clegg announced that the 20% most disadvantaged families would be guaranteed 15 free hours …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Sarah Teather MP writes: Pupil Premium – coming to a school near you

Usually it’s quite hard explaining how being a Liberal Democrat Minister in government makes a difference to the people in my constituency. But the Pupil Premium is an exception to that rule. It is a policy with two key characteristics – it has an identifiable impact in every local area, and it’s distinctively Liberal Democrat.

Today the Government released the final Pupil Premium figures for English schools. In the financial year 2011-12 schools are receiving £488 for each child on free school meals they have on their roll.

Anyone can visit the DfE website and search for their local …

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Poverty and achievement: breaking the link – Sarah Teather’s speech to conference

Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Children and Families, gave this speech yesterday to Liberal Democrat conference:

“Education… beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.“

The quote is from HoraceMann, the great 19th century American reformer. But it speaks to the instincts of liberals here with as much resonance as then.

The scandal is that though it should be true, it isn’t.

You will hear many people talk this week about the shocking state of the nation’s finances that was Labour’s legacy. I want to talk about another …

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Sarah Teather MP writes: Share your views on the Bailey Report

You may well have seen the press coverage of Reg Bailey’s report on the commercialisation and sexualisation of children, published earlier this week. While some of the coverage was the sort you’d expect from the conservative-leaning press, most of it was more balanced and thoughtful.
As Minister for Children and Families, I’ve been closely involved in this work and I’m really pleased with what he’s come up with. It demonstrates Liberal Democrat values and approaches, and has already started to make a difference in practice – which is what matters.  
As we all do when we are out campaigning, he …

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Sarah Teather MP writes: Seeking your views on Special Educational Needs proposals

Today I published proposals for improving services for disabled children and those with special educational needs.

This doesn’t affect everyone, but if you are a family with a severely disabled child struggling to give 24-hour care, or the parent of a child falling behind at school who doesn’t know where to turn for help, then I hope it will make a significant difference.

As Liberal Democrats in government, we started by listening to parents, families and young people. We had 1800 responses to our “Call for Views”, and each person will be getting an email letting them know we’ve now published …

Posted in News | 26 Comments

Sarah Teather: Coalition is committed to ending child detention

There has been some speculation that the Government is prepared to walk back on its commitment to end child detention.

I want to say, clearly and on the record, this is not the case.

Nick Clegg has rightly described the locking up of children for immigration purposes as a moral outrage. More than 1,000 children were detained in this way during Labour’s last year in government, often for months on end.

Today, the charity Medical Justice has published a report documenting the physical and psychological harm that children suffer in prolonged detention. It makes grim reading. They studied 141 cases since 2004 and found that just over half had suffered some form of psychological harm, including three girls who attempted suicide. They also found the majority had physical problems that were caused or exacerbated by their detention.

This will not be allowed to continue.

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Teather: Pupil Premium is a real Liberal Democrat achievement

I came into politics to make a difference for the most disadvantaged in our society. It is over three years since I, as Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, championed the Pupil Premium as our flagship education policy and debated it at Conference. I never dared imagine a time when I would be unveiling it as Government policy and then actually implementing it. But this week, the Coalition Government announced that a Pupil Premium, funded from outside the schools budget, will be introduced next September. It will mean that from next year, schools taking disadvantaged children will get the additional money they need to provide them with the extra support they deserve, no matter where they are in the country. This could mean more individual tuition or catch-up classes, but it will be for the school to decide, we won’t be telling headteachers how to spend the money.

This is a real Liberal Democrat achievement. It was the centrepiece of our education policy during the election campaign, and it is now being implemented in Government. While the Conservatives had a similar policy, it was the Liberal Democrats who pushed for it to be funded from outside the schools budget, and for it to feature specifically in the coalition agreement. And it’s no secret that it was one of the sticking points of the negotiations with Labour – they simply refused to agree to it.

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