My article for Politics Home:
In its offer to the British people this year the Conservative Party promised fair funding for schools but its current proposals wholly ignore post-16. This made sense when compulsory education ended at 16, but is nonsense now the Raising of the Participation Age means everyone remains in education and training up to 18. And it is not being honest with the electorate who would expect the fair funding promise to cover sixth formers.
It is those very sixth formers who are now being most short-changed by our education system.
The average funding of £4,531 per student received by Colleges and school sixth forms is already 21% less than the £5,751 per pupil received to educate 11-16 year olds in secondary schools. This compares with average spending once they progress into higher education of £8,781 per student. And in private schools the funding of students actually increases post-16 to reflect the additional cost - £15,333 per student!
Worryingly cuts to education funding for 16 to 19 year olds in 2011, 2013 and 2014 are fast turning English sixth form education into a part time experience.
Recent research from the Institute of Education describes sixth form education in England as “uniquely narrow and short” compared to the high performing education systems in Shanghai, Singapore, Canada and elsewhere. Our sixth formers are now only funded to receive half the tuition time as sixth formers in other leading economies. Students in other leading education systems – our global competitors - receive more tuition time and study more subjects.
The funding that schools and colleges now receive to educate sixth formers covers the cost of delivering just three A level or equivalent qualiﬁcations, little more. As a result, the wider support offer to students has been greatly diminished.
Before my election to Parliament I was Principal of John Leggott College so I know from personal experience how keeping students busy is the best way to maximise their chances of success. Programmes of study where students have too much free time are not effective in getting the best out of them. These students are in transition from a fairly directed pre-16 learning environment to the independent learning of HE and the world of work. That transition needs to be appropriately supported.
Sadly the student experience in schools and colleges is deteriorating. Over a third of colleges have dropped modern foreign languages courses and the majority have reduced or removed the extra-curricular activities available to students including music, drama and sport.
Even more concerning two out of three colleges do not believe the funding they will receive next year will be sufficient to support students that are educationally or economically disadvantaged. So the underfunding of 16-19 education is becoming a real obstacle to improving social mobility.
Schools increasingly find themselves having to use the funding intended for 11-16 year olds to subsidise their sixth forms, which risks damaging the education of younger students.
Grammar schools are particularly concerned about the funding of 16-19 education and increasingly raising serious concerns.
But it is not too late for the Government to wake up to its responsibility to 16-19 year olds. I am pleased to support the two modest, reasonable asks being made by ASCL, AoC and SFCA to #SupportOurSixthformers.
First the Government should use last year’s 16-19 underspend to make an immediate modest annual increase in funding of £200 per student. Secondly the Government should recognise the challenge in this area and announce a full review of sixth form funding to ensure it is linked to the realistic costs of delivering a rounded, high quality education. The sort of education that we would all want for our children, the sort of education they deserve and the country needs them to have. It is time for the Government to make true its promise to bring fair funding to our schools, including our sixth formers.
My article for Politics Home: In its offer to the British people this year the Conservative Party promised fair funding for schools but its current proposals wholly ignore post-16. ...
I very much welcome the announcement by Tata Steel Uk that it has signed the definitive documentation for a Regulated Apportionment Arrangement (RAA) with the British Steel Pension Scheme Trustees.
Listening to what people have been saying locally I share their frustration about the lack of information regarding these likely changes over recent months. Only on Monday I was at a meeting on the steelworks where workers' concerns and uncertainty about what was going on was very clear. For over a year people have worried about their security in retirement. I hope that this announcement will begin to bring this uncertainty to an end.
I'm sure all pension scheme members will look out for the information that will shortly come from the Trustees of the detail of what this means to their pension and what their choices are.
As with all this sort of information it is often difficult to get your head round it. It will be important to read the information that comes out carefully in order to make a well informed choice, taking professional advice if necessary.
My understanding is that there will be meetings organised around the country for BSPS members to find out more about what this means to them and ask questions.
A website www.bspensions.com/choose has been set up by those responsible to update BSPS members and respond to questions.
I will be taking a very close interest on behalf of my constituents to see that this is managed in their very best interests. As with all things, however, the devil is in the detail and I am keen to hear from people about how these proposals will affect them. I am concerned that TATA and the Government deliver on their responsibilities and that BSPS members don’t lose out.
I very much welcome the announcement by Tata Steel Uk that it has signed the definitive documentation for a Regulated Apportionment Arrangement (RAA) with the British Steel Pension Scheme Trustees....
Social care is in crisis, and it is decisions made in Downing Street that have brought us to this point. Theresa May must stop turning a blind eye to the problems in social care and address the funding crisis urgently.
Since 2010 local authorities’ social care budgets have been cut by £4.6 billion and 400,000 fewer people are now receiving publicly funded social care. In North Lincolnshire we have seen our council budget cut by 40% per cent, which has meant vulnerable people in our community not getting the care and support they need.
Labour has warned time and again of the growing crisis in social care. The competing pressures of an ageing population and chronic underfunding cannot go on. Theresa May must act now to make sure that councils like North Lincolnshire have the money to provide quality social care for all those who need it.
Social care is in crisis, and it is decisions made in Downing Street that have brought us to this point. Theresa May must stop turning a blind eye to the...
I've been learning more about the fantastic work of Songbooks And Glory.
They are a social project based in Scunthorpe who aim of providing free musical teaching and musical instruments to disadvantaged children globally. Recently they held a very successful event at the Lincoln Imp where they raised £248.
They are now aiming to bring about their most ambitious project as they are hoping to give the opportunity of a lifetime to a few young people to spend a few months touring Europe, learning about varying styles of European music and playing their own brand of music at various European venues.
I wish them every success and am told they are accepting donations via Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/songbooks-and-glory-young-peoples-european-tour
I've been learning more about the fantastic work of Songbooks And Glory. They are a social project based in Scunthorpe who aim of providing free musical teaching and musical instruments to...
Unless they change course, five more years of a Tory Government will deliver five more years of failure to fix our broken bus industry.
At the current rate, the threat of five more years of a Tory Government will see:
Fares rise to 59% more than 2010.
Falling operating costs and rising revenue caused by higher fares leading to growing profit for private bus companies. Operating profit will grow by £3.5 billion over the next parliament, rising to £5,156 million more than 2010.
A reduction of nearly 5000 bus routes between 2010 and 2022.
Higher fares and cuts to bus routes will see bus passenger numbers fall by 13 per cent compared to 2010, with the number of elderly and disabled passengers using local bus services in England falling by nearly 20 per cent.
Labour has a plan to fix our broken bus industry which includes:
Extending the powers to re-regulate local bus services to the local council if it wants them – not just to those combined authorities with an elected mayor
Overturning the government’s ban on municipal bus companies, so that the council will have the power to establish a community bus company
Commenting on Labour research demonstrating the impact that 5 more years of Conservative government on local bus services, Nic Dakin MP said:
“The Tories policy of deregulating bus services has been a total failure: in Yorkshire and the Humber we have seen fares rise as patronage has plummeted.
“In Yorkshire and the Humber bus passenger journeys have fallen by 28 million since 2010.”
“Labour will give London-style powers to regulate buses to passengers, so that bus services can be ran in the interests of passengers. There are too many areas in our area where pensioners have a bus pass but no bus.”
“For too long the bus industry has been allowed to put profit before passengers. A Labour Government will change that.”
Unless they change course, five more years of a Tory Government will deliver five more years of failure to fix our broken bus industry. At the current rate, the threat...