It is a pleasure to be able to open this Queen’s Speech debate this afternoon.
Since 2010, this Government have been focused on the pursuit of higher standards in education, higher standards in our schools, higher standards in our universities and higher standards in technical education—in fact, higher standards across the board—to unlock the talents of every single one of our young people.
We have made significant progress. Thanks to the energy of our great teachers and leaders, nine out of 10 schools are now good or outstanding, with 1.8 million more children in those places since 2010. Thanks to the energy of our thriving universities, more young people are going to university than ever before, including more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Thanks to the energy of businesses, we are well on our way to achieving our target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.
Perhaps more than most Departments, the legislation we need to drive up education standards and opportunity is already in place. In the last parliamentary Session alone, we passed the Technical and Further Education Act 2017, creating the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to oversee our bold new reforms; we passed the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, the most significant legislative reform of the past 25 years in higher education, to give students better value and more choice, information and opportunity; and we passed the Children and Social Work Act 2017 to better protect and safeguard the most vulnerable children in our society.