The Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson, has praised the University of Worcester’s approach to inclusion during a recent visit.
Ms Phillipson was given a tour of the University’s facilities, including The Hive, which has won awards for its inclusive design.
Following the visit, she said: “The Hive is an incredible community resource for students and residents alike. I saw schoolchildren and parents using the facility, as well as students from the University. It breathes life into the city.
“The University makes such a contribution to the life of the city. So much is made available to local people. It’s been a real pleasure to see that first hand.”
She also heard about the University’s work in initial teacher education: “It’s been brilliant to visit Worcester today and to see the University’s work, particularly in training the next generation of teachers. We know that we need to see more teachers in our classrooms. To hear the dedication and commitment from the University students here was tremendous.
“Universities play an important role in training teachers. Speaking with the students earlier, it’s clear that they are receiving a high-quality education and training. They receive a grounding in so many of the principles and theory that will underpin their classroom practice. The combination of theory and its application is very powerful.”
Ms Phillipson was appointed as the Shadow Secretary of State for Education by Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, in November last year. During her time in office she has called for reform of early years education.
Herself a state-educated graduate of the University of Oxford, Ms Phillipson has previously spoken publicly about universities as engines of opportunity and as being “a national achievement”.
During her visit to Worcester she said: “Universities are a public good that bring amazing benefits right across our country. They play a particular role as regional anchors, which leads to wider benefits, in terms of the local workforce, business start-ups, and the contribution to regional economies. I believe it’s important to recognise the role of universities in driving economic growth in our regions and making sure that we’ve got the skilled workforce of the future…whether that’s training nurses or business entrepreneurs and much more besides.”
After viewing the site of the University’s new Medical School, set to open in September 2023, she highlighted the urgent matter of medical education. “We know that we face real workforce challenges in the NHS and that requires a long-term plan,” she said. “Labour would double the number of medical training places and increase the number of nursing places as well. It’s vital that we provide greater opportunities for young people to work in our NHS. Universities will be central to deliver that.”