Mel has been one of the leading campaigners for more education funding for Devon for over a decade. Working alongside other MPs and campaigners he helped to secure significant increases in per pupil funding for schools in Devon for 2020-21 and 2021-22. With Devon long having between forgotten when it comes to education funding, the increases meant Devon was in the top third of beneficaries in the country from the adjusted per pupil funding calculations. He has also supported local schools who have made applications for funding, e.g. recently securing a meeting in Westminster with education minister Baroness Berridge, where he went into bat for Lapford Primary School which needs funding to replace a condemned classroom.
Mel has made more than 60 visits to local schools as an MP and hosts visits from local pupils to Westminster to inspire an interest in politics and our democracy at an early age. Teachers interested in organising a trip with their class should contact Mel's Westminster office on 0207 219 7037. Mel has also organised for sixth form students from the three colleges and sixth forms in his constituency (QE in Crediton, Okehampton College and South Dartmoor College in Ashburton) to visit Oxford University with the aim of encouraging bright state sixth form pupils to aim high and not be deterred from applying to the best universities.
A strong advocate of apprenticeships as an alternative to university, Mel was a ministerial aide in the Business Department under David Cameron and helped to deliver a massive rise in the number of young people embarking on apprenticeships. Locally he has worked with Moor Training in Okehampton and The Focus Training Group in Heathfield to promote apprenticeships.
Mel's passion for education stems from his upbringing. Due to economic hardship his parents left school at 15 and 14 but he was lucky - he gained a free place at a grammar school and went on to become the first in his family to go to university. This experience instilled in Mel the importance of a good education and how it can aid social mobility.
Mel is a former governor of Okehampton College.