Let me begin this week by congratulating all those A Level and BTEC students from Brentwood and Ongar who got the results they needed to get into the University, college or apprenticeship they wanted. I have heard from students from all our local secondary schools who are delighted to be heading to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Bath, amongst many more, for the next stage of their education.
Data published by Ofqual revealed that grades have remained broadly stable, with hundreds of thousands more students across the UK having their university places confirmed and more disadvantaged pupils than ever are going on to higher education.
The decision to cancel exams this year was not taken lightly and, as a former teacher, I fully understand how worrying the past few months have been time for students. I am very aware there are others who did not get the grades they expected - and I will do all I can to bring the cases of those who did not get the grades they wanted to the attention of Ofqual as the appeals process gets underway.
This Thursday will see the publication of GCSE results – the very best of British to all those who are waiting for their results. I look forward to hearing how you all get on.
As the autumn approaches, the global coronavirus pandemic is still with us. The Prime Minister has brought in a series of tough new enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions as a number of lockdown restrictions were eased at the weekend.
While the majority of the public have been diligently following the rules and playing their part in keeping the virus under control, there are some who are being irresponsible and ignoring the rules. That is why in the coming weeks, fines will be doubled for those who repeatedly flout face covering rules to a maximum of £3,200, and on the spot fines will be brought in for those who host or facilitate illegal gatherings of more than 30 people.
As always, the plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional, and as we lift more lockdown restrictions this weekend, it is vitally important that we continue to follow public health guidance and that people wash their hands, cover their face and make space.