Rushanara was appointed to serve as Shadow Minister for Education and Young People in October 2013. In this role, she focused on building new models of careers guidance for young people, finding ways of reducing youth unemployment and the number of NEETs in our society, and pushing for a better deal for those in further education across the UK. Empowering every young person with the best quality education and training has always been central to the Labour Party’s mission.
The results of that mission can be seen locally in Tower Hamlets. Over the past generation, educational attainment in Bethnal Green and Bow has been transformed. Tower Hamlets is the most improved local authority for educational attainment over the past decade. The number of students passing with five GCSEs has increased dramatically. This improvement was due to the hard work of young people, the commitment and leadership of our teachers, and the investment of the last Labour Government. In the last Labour Government we invested £300 million into our Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programmes which transformed many local schools which were in desperate need of repairs into modern and functional institutions.
When the Conservative-led Government threatened to terminate the BSF programme, Rushanara successfully campaigned with Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, to ensure that schools in Tower Hamlets did not lose the BSF funding commited to under the previous Labour government.
The challenges facing young people remain immense. Some 49% of young people are living in poverty in Tower Hamlets. Formerly a Commissioner for the London Child Poverty Commission, Rushanara campaigned as Shadow Minister for a fairer start for all of our young people, as well as a better offer of childcare for all parents. In the face of massive cuts to vocational education, it’s also why she continues to campaign for greater support for young people making the transition from education or training to work.
Over the next five years, we need to ensure that all young people – regardless of background – are given every opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge to succeed.