Nic Dakin MP

Standing up for Scunthorpe County Constituency

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I am encouraging local schools to compete in the UK’s largest youth model rocket competition – The UK Rocketry Challenge.  Schools can register now for the chance to win an all-expenses-paid-trip to the Paris Airshow.

This week in Parliament I joined the winning UK secondary schools from 2015 and 2016, to find out how schools in Scunthorpe can become this year’s champions and perhaps even the next generation of rocket scientists. 

The UK Rocketry Challenge involves the design, build and launch of a model rocket with the aim of ensuring the passenger - one raw egg - remains intact throughout the launch and landing. The rocket must reach 775 feet with specific target flight duration of 41-43 seconds. Rules governing the competition are altered every year to ensure designs can’t be repeated.

The national final champions win an all-expenses paid trip to Paris, to represent the UK in a fly off against teams from the USA, Japan and France at the Paris International Airshow in June 2017.

The UK Rocketry Challenge provides students a unique opportunity to apply what they have learnt in science, technology, engineering and maths and gain highly valued skills. The competition is a great chance for students to apply their skills creatively whilst also having a lot of fun.

GO SKY HIGH WITH NATIONAL ROCKETRY COMPETITION

I am encouraging local schools to compete in the UK’s largest youth model rocket competition – The UK Rocketry Challenge.  Schools can register now for the chance to win an...

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Metal Related industries has published a report it commissioned into the future of the steel industry in the UK.

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The document, titled ‘Steel 2020’, is the product of an inquiry conducted in collaboration with the University of Leeds Business School. Testimony was collected from industry experts ranging from business leaders, R&D specialists, and the workforce, through to the European Commission, international trade body representatives, politicians, and local authorities.

Seven key areas of policy and regulatory reform have been identified, setting out key recommendations for the Government to incorporate into its industrial strategy.

1.     A radical reshaping of the energy market to reduce uncompetitive energy costs faced by the steel industry, improving energy efficiency and spreading out the burden of decarbonisation policies.

 

2.     Ensuring free and fair international trade by developing a clear UK post-Brexit trade strategy to minimise uncertainty. This should include trade defence instruments against Chinese dumping, as well as maintaining single market access vital to steel and related sectors such as automotive.

 

3.     A positive procurement policy to ensure domestic steel is used as far as possible in public projects, including enforceable rules and greater use of the ‘Kite Mark’ certification system

 

4.     A national review of business rates, removing the perverse incentives that punish investment in capital by steel producers, while compensating Local Authorities to ensure no loss of income.

 

5.     Supporting supply and value chains within steel and the wider manufacturing sector. The Government should take a more strategic view, incentivising key areas of supply chains to re-shore in the UK so fewer steel products are exported abroad for final processing.

 

6.     For advanced economies like the UK, industry needs constant innovation to improve productivity and remain competitive. The Government must take a strategic role in supporting R&D and upskilling of the workforce, while also ensuring support for skills retention and “short time working” tied to training and up skilling, enabling companies to respond to fluctuations in the market without cutting jobs. The report calls on the government to provide support for investment by creating a National Bank for industry. A Steel Catapult is essential to provide a base for new ideas and the report calls on the Government to override vested interests to support this.

 

7.     A more collaborative relationship between industry and the trade unions, working together to develop a national industrial strategy which includes worker representation on boards. The report also calls on the Government to provide financial support for mothballing in incidents of plant closure and for the workers made redundant to ensure skills are not lost.

The report from the cross party group of MPs representing steelmaking communities offers a blueprint for how the UK Government and the devolved administrations could reshape policy to turn the fortunes of the steel industry around.

Steel is a ‘key foundation industry’ crucial to a ‘renaissance for British manufacturing. It is though at risk from ‘a future of perpetual crisis and decline’ if the trading and regulatory environment is not reformed to allow a cutting edge industry to thrive.

Steel 2020

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Metal Related industries has published a report it commissioned into the future of the steel industry in the UK.  

Ahead of my adjournment debate this evening in Parliament I have written an article for The Times. 

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It looks like the Conservative government might be being rumbled on its plans to cut school budgets in real terms over the lifetime of this parliament. But the nearly 14 per cent cut in real terms funding of 16 to 18-year-olds between 2010 and 2015, with a further 8 per cent erosion anticipated by 2020, is an even bigger scandal.

 

The average funding per sixth former is now just £4,583, 20 per cent less than the funding for each 11 to 16-year-old and 47 per cent less than the average university tuition fee.

 

How on earth can it be cheaper to educate 16 to 18-year-olds than anyone else? And there are inevitable consequences that mean England compares badly with its international competitors.

 

Research by the Institute for Education shows that English sixth-form education is “uniquely narrow and short” compared with Shanghai, Sweden, Singapore and elsewhere. Students in these systems receive between 20 and 30 hours tuition a week compared with between 15 and 17 hours in England: a part-time offer in most parts of the developed world.

 

Students in other leading education systems receive more tuition time and study more subjects. So it really is time for the government to wake up to this crisis before it is too late.

 

It should abandon its poorly thought-out ideological experiments in opening small, inefficient sixth forms — 169 between 2010 and 2015 alone.

 

It should stop wasting public money on a few pet projects, like free schools and UTCs in areas where there are already enough school places, and invest in the vast majority of students that are educated in those sixth forms and sixth-form colleges struggling to balance the books by dropping courses such as modern foreign languages, removing extracurricular activities, increasing class sizes and reducing student contact time as their budgets shrink.

 

When the prime minister talks about increasing social mobility she might want to reflect on why independent school fees rise to an average of £15,333 per 16 to 18-year-old while in the state sector it shrinks to just £4,583.

 

On every level — global comparisons, public-private sector comparisons and comparisons across phases — the continued underinvestment in our 16 to 18-year-olds cannot be right. It’s a scandal! It’s exactly the sort of “everyday injustice” that is in the prime minister’s gift to put right if she wants to truly build a “shared society”.

International comparisons of sixth form education

Ahead of my adjournment debate this evening in Parliament I have written an article for The Times.   


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