Educating our children

I believe that education is critical to the future of our country and is the only way to ensure we can simultaneously achieve sustainable economic growth and social justice.

We can only rebalance our economy by becoming globally competitive once again, and the only way to achieve that in the long-run is through giving our children a truly excellent education. The businesses I have founded and grown have all been in the service sector and employed lots of staff. Yet the main factor holding them back from growing faster has been the shortage of skilled, motivated workers. Many other businesses in Britain share this experience.

And just as importantly, if we want to create a fair society, we must strive for equal opportunity for all. The sole way to attain this is to give people from all backgrounds, including those from the most disadvantaged families, access to an excellent education, be it academic or vocational.

I was fortunate enough to go to state schools that performed well and gave me a good education, but many other people have not had the same experience. They attended mediocre schools and achieved mediocre outcomes, affecting their future work careers and making it harder for them to fulfil their potential. I am determined that we improve our schools. That is why I became a governor of Oak Lodge School for the Deaf in Balham.

As with all types of organisations, I believe that the way to improve standards in our schools is to champion innovation, to empower staff and reward good performance. I believe that the current strategy to encourage academies and free schools and to boost the number of apprenticeships will continue to improve results, to the benefit of all children.