SO, THE school year has started again. There’s much to look forward to in education in our area, building on the impressive achievements of recent times.

For a start, this will be the first full year of Llanwern High School, the new name for the old Hartridge High. The school has amazing facilities that are among the best in any school in Wales. I’m so pleased that finally the pupils and staff now have a building fit for the 21st century.

Then there’s the new pupil deprivation grant, introduced by the Welsh government last year.

This money goes directly to schools. The amount paid to each school is based on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals.

My constituency covers parts of Newport and Monmouthshire, and across these two areas the deprivation grant will provide more than £2.2 million this year.

Over the last fortnight we saw many local pupils celebrating their GCSE, AS and A-level results.

With hard work and commitment I’m sure we’ll see success again next summer.

I always feel proud when I see the Argus covering the exam success of local kids. It’s important to celebrate because whatever young people want to do when they grow up the education system provides a basis for all the learning we’ll do in our working lives, as well as equipping us for life in general.

I know this personally, as I left school without any qualifications.

After a few years of unskilled work with occasional unemployment, I had a young family and I realised that if I was going to have a career I’d need to finish my education.

So I went to Nash College as an adult and took my GCSEs, then A-Levels and eventually a law degree at Cardiff University.

I want every young person to have the chance to get the best education they can, first time around.

It is a lot easier that way.

So good luck to everyone starting the school year this week.

PS: At the time of my last column, the Olympics were just starting and I was very much looking forward to them, but even I didn’t expect it to be that good!

I’m already finding the Paralympics exciting and inspirational.

We have been very lucky with such amazing athletics this summer, and I hope it will inspire all of us to take exercise and have fun.