Francis Maude: Pupils are developing crucial skills

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude

After a hectic polling day it was good to spend a long and rewarding day in and around Horsham on Friday.

First up was joining in on Walk to School week at Leechpool Primary, where the children were in very good voice and heart, many of them sporting lots of badges to show how often they have walked to school recently.

I talked about how I walked to my first school, in Sydney Australia, and to my second, rather closer to home, which was Petworth Primary.

I was pleased to hear that the campaign to get more families walking is definitely working, which has to be a good thing.

On to The Forest School where the staff had planned a great morning of meeting, talking and doing.

I had a session with the School Leadership team, many of whom are interested in going into politics (I tried to warn them off, but it only encouraged them), cooked pancakes in a bit of a competition, met a pupil who has completely turned round his attitude and expectations through a Pixel programme, and met groups of boys doing STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths - who had designed and driven an electric car, represented the South East at an Eco-Challenge competition and done very well in a maths competition.

These skills are going to be crucial to our country’s chances of remaining competitive in these important areas, and any school which recognises how important they are and nurtures them will be turning out highly successful pupils for tomorrow.

On to Gatwick to discuss the ADNID flight path trial and the new consultation it has brought about, which will determine any future route changes through thorough engagement with the local community.

I urge you to look at it carefully and send your response – the balance of public opinion will determine how good an outcome we can achieve for those of you living on or near flight paths: former, current or future.

Back to Billingshurst to meet local groups who are working together on a strategy for revitalising the village centre.

It is exciting to see how local groups are collaborating in improving their own village, focusing on the bigger picture which will produce the greatest effect.

This is the sort of localism which was intended in the new Planning framework.

Surgery appointments in Billingshurst were the usual wide range of constituents with policy views, practical problems and specific frustrations whom I hope to be able to help in some way.

I have been asked to mention the Horsham Cycle Challenge, which takes place next month.

A fitting bookend on which to finish - the aim is to get more people cycling, and you can find out more at<>.