One of Karen's three key priorities as the Member of Parliament for Redditch County is to fight for improvements to local schools so our children have the skills they need for a brighter future.
Redditch now boasts some of the best performing schools in Worcestershire, with Redditch school students now outperforming the national average for achieving five or more grade A* to C at GCSE, with 58.5 per cent of pupils at our four high schools making the grade. This is a remarkable turnaround given that in 2009 Redditch was red flagged for unsatisfactory educational attainment.
What's more, additional GCSE students are studying the subjects which are most valued by employers due to the introduction of the English Baccalaureate - awarded when students achieve A* to C in five core GCSE subjects including English, Maths, Science, Humanities and Languages. More than twice the number of students in Redditch County are taking a GCSE in all these subjects than in 2010.
There is no doubt that our schools have gone from strength to strength in recent years but there is still plenty to do. Our young people need to be equipped to succeed in a competitive jobs market. Young people only get one chance to get a good education and it is a key priority for me to ensure that in Redditch they do.
Karen is passionate about education and wants to make sure that those young people who attend any school in Redditch get the very best education.
In total more than £8.6million of extra funding has now been ploughed into Redditch schools between 2011 and 2015. This is excellent news for schools, pupils and their families in Redditch. It will give local schools the support they need to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, can fulfil their potential. 2,910 disadvantaged pupils in Redditch now benefit from the Pupil Premium - extra funding given to schools to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
Fairer schools funding for Worcestershire has been a long-running crusade of Karen's. Worcestershire is one of the lowest funded local education authorities in England, ranking at 147 out of the 152 authorities. After a long campaign from Karen and her colleagues, in March the Government announced that it would deliver a substantial £350m boost to schools in the least fairly funded local authorities in the country. The extra money will be allocated in April 2015, for the 2015/16 financial year. Under the minimum funding levels proposed Worcestershire stands to get a 1.7% or £4.9million rise in funding with per pupil funding rising from £4,231 to £4,302.