A big focus on our local schools

On Wednesday I went to the Department for Education to meet Schools Minister Theo Agnew (pictured), who is responsible for the "Opportunity North East" programme for our local schools. We were joined by the incoming Regional Schools Commissioner for the North East, the excellent Katherine Cowell.

Both were really knowledgable about our local education landscape and emphasised that schemes to improve the transition from primary to secondary school, including the crucial pastoral care element, will soon be up and running.

On Friday I followed up with my termly headteachers' forum with local school leaders at Freebrough Academy in Brotton, which is clearly making huge strides under new Headteacher Mr Robson. I can hardly over-emphasise what an enormous difference the new leadership team have made there over the last 3 months and it was an absolute pleasure to meet some of the students. I'll be back there in a fortnight for a more in depth visit but parents should be really encouraged and reassured.

My final call was at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council to meet Diane McConnell, the officer responsible for education. She has drawn up a really impressive strategy to boost secondary school outcomes and to support and challenge all our local schools - council and academies alike - to deliver the best possible education for our children.

All in all, a *hugely* positive few days and early signs that a real corner is being turned.