As the headmaster of Brighton Hill School, Chris Edwards, pointed out in this paper a few months ago, since 2019, only five ‘outstanding’ Ofsted judgments have been given to secondary schools in Hampshire, all of them were in Basingstoke. Our schools have been working hard for more than a decade to improve the results children achieve, and that hard work is paying off. 

It is not coincidental that 86 per cent of all Basingstoke schools are now rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Teachers’ hard work and dedication shape our schools’ success, and it is crucial they succeed. Basingstoke is one of our top 10 centres of employment in the south-east of England, the economic powerhouse of Hampshire; and strong colleges and schools are central to providing our skilled local workforce for the future.

One of the big pressures our schools face is an increasing demand for places, driven by the very high levels of house building in Basingstoke. I believe we need to slow down house building so local services catch up, but schools have been amongst the best local services at securing funding to expand and keep up with that increase in demand. Since 2014, Basingstoke has seen three new schools built (with another to open by September 2025) and 15 school expansions completed with an extra £67m. This, along with an additional £226m in school upgrades since 2015, means existing school facilities have also been able to develop. All of this has added massively to our schools’ capacity. And that is continuing, with 400 new school places being added between 2020 and 2024. But there is more work to do, ensuring the geographic spread of schools matches the demand from newer communities, particularly in Chineham and Sherfield Park.

As our community grows, buildings age and technology advances, we must continue to secure investments in education to improve Basingstoke’s educational offering. I will keep working with Hampshire County Council, school academies, colleges, and the Department for Education to help ensure Basingstoke gets the best possible deal. I firmly believe that as a town we should be ambitious and endeavour to make every school ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. 

Each week I go into schools to meet teachers and pupils I hear their views about how we make Basingstoke a great place for everyone. The first week of November is Parliament Week and always a great opportunity to talk about how democracy operates in our country, and around the world. This is central to enabling everyone to be involved in shaping their own community. Last year over a million children participated in UK Parliament Week and early indications suggest a similar number did this year too. 

Lots of Basingstoke schools held events and several inter-school initiatives were organised including a full debate in the main chamber of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. Pupils from seven schools took part and it was brilliantly organised by Park View Primary School’s Parliamentary Ambassador, Kate Norman. The pupils asked probing questions and showed an enormous dedication to our local community. I was delighted to be part of their day, and it was wonderful to hear their ideas about how Basingstoke can be made an even better place. 

In Basingstoke, we are fortunate to have a vibrant and engaged community. Events such as Parliament Week provide a great opportunity for young people to learn how they can be involved. Incorporating our education system with our thriving local community will only further enrich and strengthen our town.