My article in House Magazine.
Let me declare my interest as former Principal of John Leggott College in Scunthorpe. In the 1960s inspirational local leaders established it as one of the first sixth form colleges in the country. This demonstrated the power of local decision makers to make the best decisions for their community and young people.
Like sixth form colleges elsewhere John Leggott has been a successful part of the educational landscape ever since. Indeed sixth form colleges are consistently amongst the highest performing institutions nationally. So why has a Conservative government made life so difficult for them?
With 11-16 funding per student in schools at £5553 and in academies at £5969, why are sixth form college students funded at just £4,560 per student? Whilst the Chancellor’s last minute decision not to further cut the core post-16 funding was welcome sixth form colleges remain funded 20% less than schools and academies. And there’s no guarantee that other aspects of their funding, such as that for disadvantage or free school meals, will not yet be attacked by a Treasury hungry for further cuts.
For a long while now MPs have championed their sixth form colleges drawing attention to various funding injustices including the unequal treatment of schools and SFCs in relation to VAT. So I welcome the government’s willingness to allow SFCs the opportunity to become academies if they meet the criteria and wish to.
But what does it mean? Is it just another structural fix of a symptom rather than a willingness to address the core problem that these Cinderellas who serially over deliver, should no longer be short changed when it comes to State funding? When the Conservative Government should be tackling their self-created crisis in teacher recruitment and supply they typically prefer to fiddle around with structures! But if structures are their answer why restrict the freedoms of SFCs who wish to convert to academies?
SFCs enjoy a small number of freedoms that schools/academies do not, including charging fees to international students and receiving direct funding to deliver some higher education programmes. At John Leggott the successful International Department was essentially an export business selling our high quality education to students drawn mainly from Asia. It brings income to the college and the community and establishes future UK influence across the globe as alumni prosper. Wouldn’t it be more free thinking and entrepreneurial to extend these freedoms to academies where they wished to explore them rather than say SFCs converting to academies should cease this activity?
What college governors and Principals want more than anything else is some certainty about the future of funding to their successful colleges! Then they can plan their future activities and curriculum with the sort of confidence their present and future students deserve. In the end with the option to convert to academies available SFCs, as autonomous, independent institutions will make the best decisions for their learners and their communities as the foresighted local leaders who created them did in their time.
Trusting local people is a far better way of determining the future than any top down, government imposed area review!!!
My article in House Magazine. Let me declare my interest as former Principal of John Leggott College in Scunthorpe. In the 1960s inspirational local leaders established it as one...
Back in 2010 when I was first elected as Scunthorpe’s MP one of the things I hoped to influence for the better was to do something about Westcliffe Precinct. In its heyday this had been a thriving part of the local community but latterly it had become run down and neglected. Too often local people told me they didn’t feel safe and secure in its vicinity. So I called meetings with North Lincolnshire Homes (Ongo) and North Lincolnshire Council to try to get them to work together to bring about improvements. Local councillors Len Foster, Pauline Carlisle and Sue Armitage were always very keen to support me in pressing the social housing provider and the Council to come up with a plan. The Westcliffe Drop In Centre and other local groups were also keen to see changes for the better.
I am pleased that things are now starting to happen and we can see some actual movement on the ground with the following timetable:
- Temporary building completed - January 2016
- Temporary building open - February 2016
- Demolition of existing Youth Centre - February/March2016
- Decision on planning applications due
- Hub and retail units - 9th March 2016 planning committee
- Housing - 6th April 2016 planning committee
- Start on site (Hub and retail) - Autumn 2016
- 1st phase of housing start on site - July 2016
- Complete on site (Hub and retail) - Autumn 2017
- Demolition of precinct - Autumn/Winter 2017
- Hub and retail open - late 2017
- Completion of phase 1 housing - March 2018
Back in 2010 when I was first elected as Scunthorpe’s MP one of the things I hoped to influence for the better was to do something about Westcliffe Precinct. In...
This week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.
Wednesday 27th January marked the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.
In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events have been arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:
“We are proud that Nic helped support Holocaust Memorial Day. As we mark the 71st anniversary of the end of the Holocaust and the liberation of the concentration camps, it is vitally important that we both continue to remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.
This week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust...
Unfortunately the UK steel industry has started 2016 in as challenging a situation as it ended 2015. Since the PM responded to my request for a Steel Summit (which was held in October) the situation has got worse rather than better. And this week has seen job losses announced both by Tata in South Wales, Hartlepool and Corby and at Sheffield Forgemasters. Steel MPs secured another debate in the House of Commons yesterday to urge the government to do more to support the UK steel industry. In my contribution I reflected on the Conservative Government’s response to the asks from UK Steelmakers and trade unions and urged them to do more. Here is an update on what has been delivered in relation to the asks:
Reducing energy costs: 3 years after it was promised the Government has now cleared the way for giving compensation on the Carbon Floor Tax to steel producers. Even with this compensation steel producers in the UK will pay more energy taxes than their competitors in Europe and at the moment no money has yet reached any steel producer. So the Government is to be applauded for finally moving on this but it still needs to move faster.
Tackling procurement so that UK steel used in government funded projects: The procurement guidance has been re-written and is much improved but until this guidance is used it will only be worth the paper it is written on. Government needs to follow this through and make sure that contractors on Government funded projects are using the guidance and that UK steel is benefiting. The news this week that EDF does not appear to be following the guidance in relation to Hinckley Point nuclear station is very disappointing.
Taking capital investment costs out of business rates: The Scunthorpe site currently pays around £15 million a year in business rates compared with only £3 million a year that is charged for Tata’s larger site in the Netherlands. The fear is that the government has knocked this issue into he long grass while it continues to consult on a new way forward for business rates.
Finding ways for government to support investment in new skills and technologies: Positive discussions are taking place about how grants or counter-cyclical loans could be used to support investment into new technologies. This needs to come to fruition otherwise we will get more cases where contracts are going abroad – such as a recent defence contract – because the right sort of steel product can’t be made in the UK. It is also important that we continue to invest in new skills and there is a real danger at the moment that precious engineering and technical skills will be lost to the industry and not be there when needed to take advantage on new demand.
Tackling Chinese Dumping: The Conservative Government has been reluctant to take action to protect the UK market from imports from Communist China. Under pressure it has supported limited steps in the EU to take some action but there is a need to go much further. There is a real worry within the UK and EU steel community that China will be granted Market Economy Status by the EU and that will result in more Chinese steel being dumped in Europe. It is the UK and Germany that are currently acting as cheerleaders for Communist China in Europe.
To be fair to the Conservative Government they have moved from a position 6 months ago when they were unwilling to recognise a problem to a position now where they are making all the right noises. We now need these warm words to be translated into effective action. It is a job started not a job finished.
With fellow local MPs and North Lincolnshire Council Leader I met with Greybull Capital yesterday. They were very positive about the management and workforce at Scunthorpe who they believe are worth investing in for a positive future. Tata and Greybull are currently aiming to conclude the due diligence process and transfer of ownership by the end of March 2016. This is a challenging timetable. The devil will be in the detail and I suspect it won’t all be plain sailing. But I have had discussions this week with each of the key stakeholders in the process: Tata, the trade Unions and the government. All of them are keen for the process to be successful but each of them recognises there will be difficult issues to deal with.
In relation to the current job losses locally the Task Force has been effective in bringing together all the key partners to give maximum support to steelworkers and their families affected. The trade unions and management, in particular, are to be congratulated on managing a very difficult situation as effectively as possible. There is another Jobs Fair on Friday 29 January 2016, 10am – 4pm
Unfortunately the UK steel industry has started 2016 in as challenging a situation as it ended 2015. Since the PM responded to my request for a Steel Summit (which was...
I’ve signed the Polio pledge on the One Last Push website to become a “Polio Champion” and celebrate the fantastic work that has been done globally in recent years to combat this awful disease. We must acknowledge that there is still much work to be done. Cases of polio have reduced by 99% since 1985 but the last 1% will be the most difficult to achieve and there are many countries that still need our support.
I’ve signed the Polio pledge on the One Last Push website to become a “Polio Champion” and celebrate the fantastic work that has been done globally in recent years to...