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Chris Galley

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Wednesday 25 March: Northumberland Church of England Academy

This was a Red Letter Day for me, in some respect the first public event of my campaign in Ashington. I was very kindly invited by the Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington to speak to the Sixth Form. Ian Lavery MP had undertaken a similar activity a few days beforehand.

AshAcad

It went fairly well, though I’m sure I can improve various aspects of the presentation! What interested me a bit was the focus on national issues rather than local ones, at least in terms of the question and answer session. The one area that really was probed was the tax avoiders versus benefit cheat issue. I personally feel that both should be pursued with equal vigour, but the impression in the room appeared to be that tax avoiders were having too easy a time of it. And my email inbox says something similar too. They also asked about Trident, jobs and student tuition fees. Having said that, I was quite pleasantly surprised that the questions weren’t that introspective – in other words just about education – they were more broadly based than that.

This school is quite special in many ways. There is a real buzz to the place and it is quite difficult to express in words how the education vibe totally overlays everything in the school. As a Tory I obviously thoroughly approve of all the sporting and Combined Cadet Force activities! On the other hand, while waiting in reception during my first visit I saw a special needs lad having to be returned home, it was perhaps a bit distressing but I overheard the support staff cheerfully indicate to the reception staff that he would perhaps be back for lessons that afternoon, if not tomorrow – as if it was all in a day’s work. Which in a way I suppose is exactly how it should be.

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