WHAT a pleasure to visit Wiveliscombe Primary School last week. I was welcomed in by the schools’ own elected Prime Minister who introduced me to the school Parliament, which comprises of two elected representatives from each class (including reception) who spoke to me about how they conduct the Parliament and what their priorities are.

It was a wonderful example of fairness and representation and helps to educate the children about the importance of using their right to vote in the future. The teacher overseeing the parliament has been trained at the Parliamentary education centre in Westminster which is open to all schools to apply and thoroughly recommended.

The children were especially interested in all things environmental, and we discussed reducing plastic and waste, caring for insects and bees. Their own on-site Forest School enables the students to enjoy learning from the outdoors and the benefits of this are clearly reflecting in the work the children are producing indoors. Like all our schools a big thank you to all the teachers, parents and pupils for coping with the challenges of the past couple of years.

Many schools are using new Government funding for mental health support in school to overcome any pandemic related problems. And further funding has just been announced for Somerset as it’s been chosen as one of the new Education Investment Areas with extra skills support and retention payments to help schools maintain the best teachers in priority subjects. I’ve campaigned continuously for a fairer playing field for education in rural areas like ours & this recognition is welcome.

So too is the Levelling Up White Paper where earlier this week it was announced that support will be given to Somerset West & Taunton Council from the High Streets Task Force to provide expertise to drive regeneration. Given the problems around the Coal Orchard development, (completion of which was meant to come from the £14m I’d already secured from Government) this support can’t come too soon.

On health, a heartfelt thank you to all staff at the Wellington Medical Centre for an informative tour and tremendous work throughout the pandemic. Finally, I’m meeting the Health Minister this week to discuss the desperate situation regarding local dental provision.

Rebecca Pow 

MP for Taunton Deane