Happy New Year!
A week into 2016 and it's as if we haven't had a Christmas Break. Anyway Jeremy Corbyn has now finished his reshuffle and I'm still the Shadow Schools Minister! Just as well, as I've been very busy on education matters. I visited Microsoft's Showcase Classroom and was able to see first hand the support they are giving to innovation. There's nothing like talking to young people to inspire those of us involved in Education though.
I was delighted to join Scawby and Hibaldstow Assemblies to be quizzed by pupils about my job. I then had a look round the Humber University Technical College where everything is brand new but there are not many students yet!
Back in Westminster I met with my counterparts in the House of Lords to discuss how we can work to improve the Government's dreadful Education and Adoption Bill. The Conservatives answer to everything is 'Turn it into an Academy' so they don't know what to do now more academies are failing than other schools. Except 'Turn it into another academy'! It would be funny if it wasn't such a distraction from the main issues! The Headteachers' union, the NAHT, were very clear when I met with them that the real issue is finding enough qualified teachers to teach in our schools.
The Conservative Government is having a bad start to 2016 with an inadequate response to the floods, a failure to head off the Junior Doctor's strike and their splits on Europe.
There was a useful meeting of Steel MPs with steel employers and trade unions to update on how we can best support the industry in 2016. Their asks remain the same - push government on energy costs, business rates, procurement and Chinese Dumping. In addition they pointed out the threat to the industry if the EU gives China Market Economy Status. This has the potential to undo all the good work that is currently being done by allowing unchecked imports of Chinese steel into Europe, I raised these concerns at Business Questions. Locally the Task Force seems to be making good progress in supporting those steelworkers whose jobs are at risk but they are finding it more difficult to identify those at risk in the supply chain and provide them with the appropriate support.
I've had a lot of letters about the unfairness to women born in 1953 and 1954 of the way that pension equalisation is working. I spoke against this injustice when the Conservatives pushed the law through in 2011 and spoke on the matter again this week.
I visited the Specialist Rehabilitation Service in Goole that serves our area and found time to join many others at the Pods giving blood.
Finally I was delighted to be at Stamford Bridge with thousands of Scunthorpe fans cheering on the Iron who gave a creditable display against premiership Chelsea in their FA cup defeat.