Education students were privileged to hear first-hand how government policies shape education provision in local Liverpool constituencies, at a special guest lecture by Labour MP Maria Eagle.
The Centre for Education and Policy Analysis hosted the event, inviting Maria to talk with Dr Daniel O’Neill from Education Studies about her experiences as a member of parliament.
Senior Lecturer in Education Studies Dr Richard Budd, who helped organise the event, said: “For students, it was a fascinating insight into personal experiences from inside Westminster. It made real connections between the material we teach on policy and sociology of education, and how these things play out in practice.
“Not only did we hear about Labour policies that had not gone to plan - in part through Coalition/Conservative amendments - but also how policy developments filter down into her own constituency. It was refreshing for the audience to see a high-level politician in conversation, fielding a wide range of questions in a way that was both personable and knowledgeable, rather than simply parroting a party line.”
Maria, who has been a Labour MP for Garston and Halewood constituency since 2010, discussed how education, child and disability policies impact her constituency, with a particular focus on the lack of A Level provision in Knowsley.
Dr Budd explained: “Nationally, one of the topics which Maria spent quite a bit of time on was that Knowsley was in a difficult position, having pockets of poverty and no A-Level provision. This is because, due to relatively low demand, it has been the easiest part of provision to cut for cash-strapped schools. The fact that it leaves young people in Knowsley with few routes into higher education is of less interest to the Multi-Academy Trusts who run the secondary schools in the area, as they are headquartered elsewhere in the region. Maria essentially argued, for this and other reasons, for a better connection between education policy, school provision, and sensitivity to local needs.”
At the end of the talk, students and staff who attended the session were given the opportunity to ask questions.