The G7 Summit presents an incredible opportunity for Cornwall and I have been fully in favour from the time it was first discussed with me very many months ago. However, if the summit is just a ‘flying’ visit by Heads of State then I can see why some will perceive this as nothing more than another imposition. In the meetings I have been in the summit itself has not dominated the agenda. The topic of discussion has been how Cornwall should and can benefit from this, what should the legacy be and how do we use the G7 Summit (in the same year that we host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference) to accelerate the low carbon industrial revolution both here and around the world. I want to be part of this and I’m privileged to represent the constituency that is host to this summit at such a critical time.
The vaccine programme is impressive. As I write 4m Brits have received the first dose including 8% of the population in the Southwest. By Sunday all care home residents will have had the jab in Cornwall and we are on track to give the vaccine to over 80% of the most at risk across the UK in less than a month from now. As we are in lockdown those waiting and worried can be reassured that the risk of infection to them is very low.
The past 10 months have been extraordinarily difficult for schools and our teachers as the nation has battled to first understand and then tackle the covid outbreak. Teachers have learned to adapt at very short notice and in response to a seemingly ever changing environment. I was pleased to secure a debate in Parliament on Monday to recognise this extraordinary effort and the hard work of head teachers and their staff across West Cornwall and on Scilly and around the UK. The environment has also been challenging for the Education Department who, rather than set the agenda, finds itself sandwiched between a Department for Health whose job it is to get on top of this disease and the Treasury whose concern for livelihoods and jobs is equally valid. I applied for the debate as I believe we must work to see what can be done to reset the relationship with frontline teaching staff and the Department of Education as we set about 2021.
I know that teachers feel that decision-makers do not understand the grassroots of education. This must change. Teaching a group of children face to face, appreciating the individual curiosities of each child, responding to their personalities and capabilities and walking hand in hand as they grow, learn and develop is a most rewarding vocation. Very little of this can be replicated via a flat screen and I should imagine thousands of teachers are exhausted and demotivated because the very act of classroom teaching has been so impacted. Both due to social distancing and remote teaching. I was reminded by a local head teacher after the debate that despite this ‘contact’ time with children being effectively curtailed teachers ‘got on with it’ as part of the national response to covid. As a parent of children at home I appreciate teachers more now than ever before!