Ed Miliband visited Haverstock school – which happens to be his old school – in north London on Thursday to give a big education speech.
The Labour leader took the chance to offer some advice to pupils. He was asked by a year 7 pupil how he would "make learning better".
Miliband replied: "The most important thing I'd say to kids at Haverstock? Don't let anyone tell you that you can't achieve what you want to achieve.
"Don't let anyone say because you're from that school, because you're from there, you're not going to be able to achieve it. It's about transcending circumstance.
"The great thing about Haverstock – for me and other people – was that it said: 'You can reach for the stars, you can reach for incredible things.' That's the most important thing I would say to you."
In his speech, Miliband announced that Labour would protect the £58 billion annual education budget in real terms if it won power. That means spending would rise at least in line with inflation. He also pledged to cap primary school class sizes at 30 pupils.
He also vowed to protect spending on education and childcare for 2–to-4-year-olds, schools for 5–16-year-olds, and further education for 16–19-year-olds. That goes much further than the Conservatives, who have admitted that school spending will not rise with inflation under their plans.
Miliband said Labour could afford it due to its "sensible, balanced approach to deficit reduction". But after the speech, Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws warned that the plans would involve "excessive and reckless borrowing".
Miliband said his refugee grandparents would be astonished to see that he had become the leader of the opposition.
"I grew up in a family near here," he said, "a pretty well-to-do family, but when I think about my family, their parents, they were immigrants, refugees who fled from the Nazis before and after the Second World War.
"And if they thought I'd be standing on this stage today, my grandparents, they'd never have believed it. The most important thing is, reach for your dreams. That's the most important advice I can give to young people.
"What does education mean to me? The thing I would say most of all when I think about my time in Haverstock, it was a great preparation for life not just for passing exams, I really believe this. Being part of a mixed community, that is an extraordinary experience.
"I think it's about learning for life, not just for passing exams."
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at email@example.com.
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