YP Comment: New political era underway - May sends out a clear message

New Prime Minister Theresa May makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street  after becoming Prime Minister. See letter
New Prime Minister Theresa May makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street after becoming Prime Minister. See letter
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LESS than 24 hours after taking over as Prime Minister Theresa May has wasted no time ushering in an historic new era of British politics.

And the emphatic message from her first full day in office was this will not simply be business as usual. Mrs May had already raised eyebrows by appointing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary on Wednesday evening, and further extended an olive branch to Brexiteers by making her former leadership rival Andrea Leadsom the new Environment Secretary.

If there was magnanimity in those appointments Mrs May also displayed a ruthless streak in getting rid of several big names, most notably George Osborne, Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan, who has been replaced as Education Secretary by Rotherham-born Justine Greening.

It was not just familiar faces that were being shown the door, in some cases entire departments have either been replaced or merged as Mrs May sets about creating her vision for a dynamic new government.

For others, this changing of the guard has brought new opportunities. David Davis takes on the mantle of newly-created Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, while Elizabeth Truss takes over as Justice Secretary after what was, at times, a troubled stint as Environment Secretary.

The new Prime Minister clearly wanted to make her mark and she has certainly done that. Mrs May has acted with confidence and shown a steely determination that will no doubt be tested in the coming weeks and months.

The fact that this will not simply be a continuation of the Cameron and Osborne show is to be welcomed. We are entering uncharted political territory and with a working majority of just 16 the new Prime Minister will hope that she does not come to regret upsetting the status quo.

Mrs May has made a bold start. Only time will tell if she is able to deliver on this early promise.

Switching parents on to learning

Not all that long ago, when a school wanted a parent to know about a particular issue they would write a letter. Some of those missives would be carefully read; many though ended up at the bottom of school bags never to see the light a day.

Not any more. Today, communication between the classroom and home is increasingly carried out by text. Some may bemoan the move to mobiles, but according to new research a few simple text messages may not only keep parents informed, but they may also reap rewards when it comes to results.

The Education Endownment Foundation decided to see what happened if parents were alerted by text about everything from an important upcoming test to missed homework deadlines. And the results were impressive.

Involving 16,000 students across 36 secondary schools, the trial found that by sending an average of just one text a week, it was possible to boost exam results by the equivalent of an extra month in the classroom.

The best head teachers are always searching for innovative ideas to improve pupil and parental engagement and this may be one of the simplest – and costing at most just £6 a pupil, it might also be one of the cheapest.

Through social media, email and text we are bombarded by more information than ever before. Most of it warrants no further action than a quick press of the delete button.

However, if the results of this research are borne out, those weekly text messages could prove some of the most important a parent will ever receive.

Farming matters

The livestock is back on the farms. The cheesemakers, chocolatiers and artisan breadmakers have packed up their wares. Even the fake Scarborough beach is no more.

Yesterday evening the curtain fell on another Great Yorkshire Show and what a three days it had been. During the 158th event, winners were crowned, 
the new £11.5m exhibition hall was officially christened and even Geoffrey Boycott put in an appearance.

As a showcase for all 
that’s great about Yorkshire, there is none finer. As a platform from which to champion the people who oil the wheels of the county’s rural economy there is no better.

For many of those taking part, the show was as much a break from the daily routine as it was for the 130,000 visitors who passed through the turnstiles.

Part celebration, part rallying call for the issues which must be on the new Government’s rural manifesto, the Great Yorkshire Show was our chance to shine. And we did.