On June 15 I was sworn back into Parliament to represent my home constituency, Batley & Spen.
It was an honour to be re-elected with a majority of almost 9,000 votes, and it is a true privilege to spend every day working on your side, fighting your corner.
It’s been a busy month and I’ve already hit the ground running. I’ve spoken in eight debates, I’ve tabled 16 written questions and an Early Day Motion.
I’ve met with dozens of local people, businesses and organisations, and I’ve raised important issues including measures to get the best Brexit deal for Batley & Spen, directly with Government.
Just this week, I was appointed to the Labour’s front bench, becoming the Shadow Minister for Early Years. It is an honour to be asked to join Labour’s education team, and it’s a brief that I am incredibly passionate about.
All children in Batley & Spen, and indeed across the country, deserve no less than the best possible start in life.
The first five years of a child’s life are absolutely crucial because investment during those vital years benefits not only the child, but also their family, their community, and our society.
However, on all aspects of education, Theresa May and her Conservative Party are getting it wrong. They’re planning to cut £9.4 billion from schools and already Conservative cuts to Sure Start Centres and poor access to free childcare provision is letting both children and parents down.
We need to be ambitious about the future, and that means being ambitious about education and early years provision.
We have some fantastic early years services here in Batley & Spen and they have my full support, but the current system is chronically underfunded and it isn’t working.
I will not rest in impressing upon Government the importance of building an early years system that works for all children, that increases training and wage opportunities for staff, and works for parents, meaning that early years care is affordable.
Finally, a particular highlight of the last month was the weekend of June 17-18. I’ll never forget the Great Get Together, and I sincerely hope that it will become an annual event.
Across the country, and in particular in our communities, we celebrated everything that Jo Cox stood for and believed in.
I supported a great number of local Great Get Together events, from the unveiling of a memorial bench at Windmill School in Birstall, to a coffee morning in Scholes, to the Big Iftar in Batley and many more. Together, we formed new friendships and we celebrated love, unity and diversity.
It was also delightful to take part in the Run for Jo at Oakwell Hall, a sponsored run for the Jo Cox Foundation which brought the community together to have fun, stretch ourselves, and support a good cause.
All of the Great Get Together events were a beautiful tribute to a luminous woman and my thanks go to Jo’s sister Kim and her army of volunteers who made the weekend so special.