Conservative candidate Maria Hutchings says she has “full confidence” in Hampshire's education system.

Mrs Hutchings praised the county's schools after coming under fire for claiming that state education would not help her son become a heart surgeon.

As reported in today's Daily Echo, National Health Action Party candidate, Dr Iain MacLennan, labelled Mrs Hutchings' remarks as “disgraceful”.

But the Tory candidate explained her comments today, as she continued her by-election campaign by canvassing voters in Hedge End.

Speaking to the Daily Echo after visiting residents in Pudbrooke Gardens, Mrs Hutchings said: “I've got four children. I went to state school, my husband went to state school, my eldest daughter went to state school and my next child went to state school.

“My daughter is on the list for Wildern or Wyvern in September, so I have full confidence in the education here in Hampshire.

“My son is gifted - I needed to find the right place for him.

“When I was talking to the original journalist I was referring to when he was five years old. I couldn't find the right provision for where I was living at that time, not Eastleigh.

“I was telling the journalist that when my son was 12 years old, he had a careers talk and they had a cardio-respiratory surgeon come down and he said he wanted to be a cardio-respiratory surgeon. And it was nothing linked to state schools.

“This is something that's been mish-mashed together by somebody else.

“The fact that I've my youngest daughter on the list for Wildern or Wyvern in September surely tells you what I think of local education here.”

Home Secretary Theresa May, who was on the campaign trail with Mrs Hutchings in Hedge End this morning, said: “Parents will always have to make decisions about what is right for their children.

“What we want to see across the whole of the state sector is ensuring that they are providing education that is right for every child and education that is rigorous.”

Mrs May also hit back at critics from opposition parties who claimed that Mrs Hutchings has not lived in the constituency for as long as she has suggested during her campaign.

She added: “Maria has been absolutely clear about how long she has lived here. I've just been standing on a doorstep with her and she said to somebody I've been here for five years.

“But what she has done over those five years is she has really fought for local people, she has campaigned with them on issues, she has worked with local charities, she has worked with local voluntary groups.

“She has shown that she is somebody who as a member of parliament would really care about Eastleigh, take on the issues of people here, and I think, be the best voice for Eastleigh.”

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