James Sunderland backs a Private Member’s Bill to enshrine in law the provision of good quality careers guidance in schools starting in Year 7.
It is a great privilege to be called so early in this debate, Madam Deputy Speaker. Let me start by commending my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for this excellent Bill. I am a huge fan of careers advice in schools. He has done some great work since he has been in Parliament and this Bill is absolutely the right thing to do, so my congratulations to him for getting it through today.
I was at school once, believe it or not, many years ago. I was in a very good school in Guildford. I was probably a lost cause for most of it, but one reason why I scraped through was that it had a careers office. It was fantastic because it was a warm office in the old part of the school, there were lots of leaflets and newspapers in there, and it was where the students and the kids used to hang out when they were hiding from the headteacher. The important thing is that it was led by a chap called Mr Richard Mant, who was a very inspirational teacher. At the age of 11 or 12, I was absolutely inspired by him, and by the leaflets and articles I read in that careers office, and I went through my school years with an idea and a vision of what I wanted to do when I left school. Children who are exposed to that at the right age, from year 7, in accordance with the Bill, are at a massive advantage, because it sows the seed of what they might want to do later in life. As Steve Jobs proved so ably, if someone has a vision, they then bend their entire focus, hard work and work ethic into achieving it. Children being exposed at an early age to the whole panoply of what they might want to do when they grow up is really important. They may wish to be an accountant, Army officer, lawyer, politician, apprentice or electrician. It does not matter what someone wants to do, because all work is vital and valuable, but instilling that vision from year 7 is absolutely the right thing to do, and I once again commend my hon. Friend for his Bill.
I know that time is short, but I wish to use my last minute or so to commend the education provision in my constituency, which is fantastic. I have had the privilege over the past two years of visiting most of the schools in the constituency, both primary and secondary. The figures are amazing: 23 of the 26 schools in my constituency are graded “good” or “outstanding”. The education offer in Bracknell is fantastic, which is testament not just to the excellent education department at Bracknell Forest Council, led by Gareth Barnard but to the fantastic teachers and headteachers we have in the constituency. There is not a bad apple among them, and the offer is absolutely brilliant. Do I think this Bill would work in Bracknell? Yes, I do, 100%. Most of the schools there already have careers provision and excellent careers staff, but instilling this in law and compelling teachers and schools to provide it in year 7 is a brilliant thing to do. Kids in Bracknell, who already are very blessed with superb education, will benefit from this and, we hope, will aspire to great things as they grow up.