Jeremy Corbyn visits Rugby's Bilton School and praises pupils for their intelligent questions

Jeremy Corbyn and Rugby Labour's parliamentary candidate Debbie Bannigan visited Bilton School today, December 5,

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:11 pm

Mr Corbyn took questions from sixth-formers on topics ranging from mental health services,wage levels and the economy at large.

He praised pupils for asking, 'intelligent, balanced questions'.

Mr Corbyn's visit comes on the same day Labour unveils a range of policies which they said will makes schools across the country 'poverty proof'.

Mr Corbyn and, to his right, Debbie Bannigan, met with pupils and staff at Bilton School.

These proposals include:

- Expanding the provision of free, healthy breakfasts to all primary schools, and a pilot of the same policy in secondary schools.

- Extending free school meals at secondary school to every child whose family is in receipt of Universal Credit.

- Capping the cost of school uniforms and restoring grants to help disadvantaged families with costs of uniform and equipment.

Mr Corbyn joins catering staff at Bilton School on the day the party proposes to bring free, healthy meals to far more schoolchildren.

- Introducing a new programme of extended schools, both in the evenings and the summer holidays, to give all children access to extra sport and healthy meals even outside schools.

- Restoring and increasing increasing the Education Maintenance Allowance to £35 a week for disadvantaged teenagers in further education.

Labour also said it would recruit 20,000 more teachers, spend £7 billion in school repairs and cap primary class sizes to 30.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Mr Corbyn said: "We will properly fund schools like this, where they're really pushing it on the budget.

He said schools across the country are: "Very stretched, there are numbers of students that don't get the teaching assistant support they need, students that don't get the after school activities they need, and the local authorities have cut back on youth services.

"The rife opportunities of young people are so damaged.

"It's worlds apart from the private education system - which tends to be extremely well provided for.

"I want to invest in our education system for the future."

Speaking to voters in Rugby who have not voted Labour before, he said: "They've got a chance to change their habits and vote for Debbie Bannigan.

"She is somebody totally committed to the area, very experienced and very knowledgeable."

"I'm very happy to work with her, very happy to support her and indeed, the first visit we did here was to GE in Rugby [last November].

"It was fascinating, because my dad used to work at British Electric in Stafford and he knew this place very well and often talked about it.

"But the interesting thing was, when we arrived to do the visit, there was a group of apprentices who were working on big turbines, electricity generation turbines, and they said 'thanks for what you're said about the Swansea tidal lagoon'.

"Initially I was quite surprised - why would an apprentice in Rugby suddenly be very interested in the tidal lagoon construction in Swansea Bay?

"The link is obvious - the only place in Britain that can make turbines of that size is GE in Rugby.

"So we had quite an interesting conversation with the management at GE over issues at GE and manufacturing in France compared to here - but also about the opportunities that our green industrial revolution will bring.

"Because it's not just tidal lagoon turbines, which are obviously vital, bit wind turbines as well.

"And that technology is here in Rugby.

"So it was an interesting visit, I learned a lot, and Deb showed how much she knows this town."

Mr Corbyn told other members of the press present for the visit that, upon election, he would immediately seek to speak with the US administration on the issue of Anne Sacoolas seeking diplomatic immunity after the death of Harry Dunn.

He also said a Labour government would immediately provide funding to local authorities to deal with rough sleeping.