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City MP praises work of popular ‘Pompey Pirate Ship’ Literacy Hub

Stephen Morgan MP has praised the work of the Pompey Pirate Ship for its role in the city’s popular Literacy Hub scheme.

Visiting Pompey Pirate Ship with Northern Parade Junior School today, the Portsmouth MP saw first-hand with and Labour councillor Charlotte Gerada how the project works with children to get better at reading and writing (literacy), as well as finding a newfound passion for them outside of the classroom.

Workshops usually involve writing stories, diaries or film scripts, providing a fun and exciting way to encourage students to use their imagination. Each term, pupils will turn their writing work into a published book, film or even a radio show.

Pompey Pirates Literacy was first launched in September 2020 in the Charles Dickens Ward, where there is a high level of child poverty.

Government data shows only 67% of 10–11-year-olds in Portsmouth are meeting the expected reading level, 6% lower than the national average.

Despite this, Pompey Pirate Ship has become so popular that it is now already recruiting volunteers for a second ‘ship’, so it can continue to expand and reach more of the city’s children.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Pompey Pirate Ship has come on leaps and bounds since its launch back in 2020, and it’s fantastic to see the work it’s continuing to provide to Portsmouth children.

“It’s so important young people are able to enjoy and understand the power of reading and writing. Pompey Pirate Ship’s original approach to make learning fun is having an enormous impact on our city and I am so grateful to them for their efforts.

“I’m pleased to learn the scheme is looking for more volunteers as it continues to grow, so I highly recommend to those who may be interested to come down and get involved.

“Getting the next generation reading for the future is vital and I will continue to support projects working to secure the best outcomes for children in Portsmouth and across the country.”

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Shadow Schools Minister: Government has failed to provide pupils with ‘proper access’ to careers advice

Stephen Morgan MP has accused the government during a debate in Westminster today of failing to provide “proper access” for pupils to careers advice.

Speaking in the debate, the Portsmouth MP said, “little action has actually been taken to address the postcode lottery our children face in accessing the skills and opportunities they need in school to navigate the world of work.”

The Shadow Schools Minister also said that Labour is backing pupils, parents, businesses, and educators with its pledge to give every child access to quality careers advice in their school.

Labour announced during its 2021 conference its plan to allow children to access a professional careers advisor 1 day a week.

A 2019 Careers England survey found that three quarters of schools have insufficient, limited or no funding for careers advice.

In addition, roughly a third of secondary schools say they receive the equivalent of £5 per student, with 5% receiving just £2.

In 2019, a CBI report also said 44% of employers felt that young people leaving education were not work ready.

The organisation also highlighted the geographic variation in engagement with employers and educational settings.

The City MP visited Portsmouth’s St Edmunds Catholic School last week, which he believes has a “very good offer”, but is concerned that more broadly, students in rural and coastal areas face a postcode lottery on access to joined up support.

The Shadow Schools Minister and Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Students across the country are being let down by government as they continue to face a postcode lottery in accessing the support they need to secure jobs for the future.

“As the economy recovers, it’s vital students are prepared to move into the world of work and have access to the support and advice they need.

“Labour would ensure every child has the best chance to succeed, which includes access to professional careers advice. Ministers are risking the futures of the next generation and our economy. It is morally and economically backward and I will continue to hold them to account on this.”

 

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A new contract for Britain: Keir Starmer’s speech

Today, Keir Starmer set out his contract for a new Britain.

After over a decade of Conservative rule, there is a cost of living crisis. This government has lost its grip and working people are paying the price.

People’s cost of living continues to increase while wages stagnate – and the country will be hit unfair tax hikes in April.

The Leader of the Opposition said this is Labour’s moment to set out our vision for a new Britain. A country built on the guarantee of security, prosperity and respect for all.

  • Security: Labour will ensure that you feel safe in your neighbourhood and that our NHS is there for you when you need it.
  • Prosperity: We will give everyone the skills they need to prosper and opportunity to thrive.
  • Respect: We will create a country where everyone feels valued for who you are and what you do.

Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer said:

“We need a country led by a Labour government; fit for the challenges we face – rebuilding after the pandemic, making Brexit work and tackling the climate crisis head on.

Local elections are on the horizon and we have the opportunity to demonstrate to communities across the country that where the Government turns its back, Labour provides solutions. Let’s get to work – it’s time for a new Britain, it’s time for Labour”.

Examples of what this contract for Britain will mean in practice

Policing and crime prevention

Labour will provide crime prevention teams in every neighbourhood. New Police Hubs will be visible in every community. We will introduce a tough new approach to closing down drug dens with new powers for local police and local authorities.

Police hubs

In every community blighted by anti-social behaviour there will be a Police Hub where you can speak to officers dedicated to dealing with it. Police Hubs will be located in visible and accessible places in communities, providing a place the public can go to talk to the police and other agencies in person about their concerns in an area, as well as providing a visible reassurance to residents who live there.

Neighbourhood Prevention Teams

New Neighbourhood Prevention Teams will bring together police, community support officers, youth workers and local authority staff to tackle anti-social behaviour at source. NPTs will be made up of neighbourhood police officers, PCSOs, youth workers and local authority enforcement officers. These teams would prioritise being visible on patrols and would pursue serial perpetrators of ASB or low-level crime, as well as dealing with visible signs of disorder such as broken windows, graffiti, fly-tipping, or drug dealing. These teams will also support victims of anti-social behaviour.

Next generation neighbourhood watch

  • A next generation neighbourhood watch, harnessing the potential of modern technologies – such as video doorbells, dashcams and WhatsApp – and encourage a virtual approach to sharing advice and gathering intelligence in local communities.

More Special Constables

  • A major recruitment drive to increase the number of Special Constables, whose numbers have fallen sharply since 2010, focusing on community safety up and down the country.

Police funding and staffing numbers

  • Tackle the Tory rise in violent crime and address the huge cuts in police officers, PCSOs and police staff which have made communities less safe.
  • More police focusing on safer streets and tackling violence, through a neighbourhood policing fund which also allows the recruitment of police staff and PCSOs
  • New neighbourhood policing fund (£150m) and violence reduction fund (£22m)

Tackling drug dens

Stronger powers for police and local authorities to shut down premises being used for drug dealing or consumption, as well as action to remove the barriers which prevent existing powers being used. In the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act:

  • Increase the length of time a closure notice could be issued for from an initial 48 hours to 72 hours.
  • Increase the length of time a closure order can be granted from an initial minimum three months to a minimum of six months.
  • We would then extend the ability of an extension for six months up to 12 months

Buy, Make and Sell More in Britain

Britain needs an industrial strategy to improve our productivity to ensure we Buy, Make and Sell more in Britain. And to revive the places that made Britain wealthy.

Labour will make more in Britain by giving more public contracts to British companies, big and small, by:

  • Asking every public body to give more contracts to British firms big and small, using stretching social, environmental and labour clauses in contract design to raise standards and spend and make more in Britain.
  • Passing a law requiring public bodies to report on how much they are buying from British businesses including SMEs.
  • Leading a culture change in government, putting the growth of local industries first, and reviewing the pipeline of all major infrastructure projects to explore how to increase the materials made in Britain, upskill workers to get the jobs of the future.

Labour will help bring jobs of the future to Britain, by:

  • Investing in reshoring jobs in the same way we invest in Foreign Direct Investment, by helping every business considering reshoring access the expertise and support they need.
  • Working with colleges and universities to make sure we’re honing the skills and apprenticeships for the jobs of the future.

Climate investment pledge

At our conference we pledged an extra £28 billion a year in capital investment to combat climate change to create green jobs, to inspire innovation for a clean future. And this promises a future to places that were once defined by what they made but which fell on harder times.

An additional £28bn of capital investment in our country’s green transition for each and every year of this decade. Examples of what it could be spent on: giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles, thriving hydrogen industry, offshore wind with turbines made in Britain, more green places and safe cycle paths, planting trees and building flood defences, keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down.

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Portsmouth MP calls for Christmas jabs guarantee for schoolchildren as just over half in Portsmouth have had first dose

Stephen Morgan MP has challenged the government to offer ever 12 – 15-year-old a Covid vaccine by the end of the Christmas holidays, as it was revealed just 53% in Portsmouth have had a jab.

Nationally, less than half (45%) of children aged 12 – 15 have received their first vaccination and the weekly number of jabs given to schoolchildren has dropped 80% since half-term.

There is also a regional postcode lottery. In a class of 30 children, 16 will have received a jab in the south east.

The latest statistics reveal 235,000 state school pupils were absent from school due to Covid on 9 December, up 13% in the last fortnight.

There have been at least two confirmed Omicron variant outbreaks in primary schools in England.

With schools soon to close for the Christmas holiday, Labour is calling for children to have access to walk-in clinics, and a proactive campaign to promote the benefits of vaccinations to parents and discredit the anti-vax disinformation.

Labour has also urged Ministers to provide clarity for parents on the approval of the vaccine for those aged 12 and under.

Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“The government’s complacency means we are now in a race against time to protect children’s health and education. The Omicron variant is spreading across Portsmouth and the country, yet the vaccine roll-out is slowing down when it should be speeding up.

“Ministers must turbocharge vaccine delivery so all 12-15 year olds can get vaccinated over the Christmas holidays, and offer practical help to improve ventilation as Sage recommended over a year ago.

“The Conservatives must stop treating children as an afterthought.”

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Open windows not an answer in winter, Labour warns, as Government’s ventilation failure creates further education disruption

Labour has warned that the Government’s failure to get ventilation measures in place is pushing schools to open windows despite plummeting temperatures and causing energy bills to rocket.

On a visit to a school in Greenwich, Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s new Shadow Schools Minister said: “Twelve months on from the Government taking Greenwich to court over keeping kids safe in class, the Government still has no plan on ventilation. This is literally a problem that Ministers should have fixed when the sun was shining.”

Sage first highlighted the importance of ventilation in schools in May 2020, but 19 months on the Government has failed to act on their advice. Pilot trials of air purifiers in classrooms will not deliver a final report until October 2022, nearly three years after the start of the pandemic.

The absence of national leadership has left schools in England trailing behind international counterparts on Covid mitigations, with New York installing 100,000 air purifier systems in classrooms and Germany spending €200m on mobile air filters to help keep schools Covid secure.

Labour analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library has revealed that increases in electricity and gas prices could send school energy costs soaring by up to £80 million, without accounting for open windows.

Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“It is outrageous that because of the Government’s incompetence schools are being left with no option but to open windows as temperatures plummet and heating bills rise just to get adequate ventilation. Schools and local authorities are working incredibly hard to support children, but the government is again treating them as an afterthought.

“The Government should have had a proper plan in place to stop a third year of Covid disruption to education but their chaotic, last-minute approach is leaving children bearing the brunt of the pandemic once again.

“It is already cold. In a month’s time it will be colder. Ministers must get ahead of this virus now and put in place the ventilation systems which Labour, teachers and parents have been calling for many months. Schools are having to spend money on energy bills which they should be spending on our children.”

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Shadow Minister stands up for local schoolchildren after flagship catch-up programme deemed ‘catastrophic failure’

Stephen Morgan MP demanded answers from government in the House of the Commons today after its flagship National Tutoring Programme (NTP) was deemed a ‘catastrophic failure’ by education leaders.

Ministers claimed the NTP, a key pillar the government’s education catch-up strategy, would create a “tutoring revolution” and enable less well-off children to recover months of learning lost during the pandemic through small-group tuition, as part of a multibillion-pound government plan.

But in a recent survey of providers, 90 per cent said the government’s contractor for its flagship National Tutoring Programme was not prepared for its launch.

The Dutch human resources company, Randstad, was in June awarded a £25m contract to run the scheme, with a winning bid that tender documents show was far below the £62m maximum offered by the government.

One education leader told the Financial Times, who is currently still working with the company, said Ranstad is “doing it on the cheap and the quality of what they’re doing is very poor — completely under-resourced, and shambolic,”

Speaking after his first parliamentary intervention as Shadow Schools Minister, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“This will be the third year of disruption to the education of thousands of students in Portsmouth and across the country. Instead of handing out million-pound contracts to companies looking to win a quick buck, Ministers should be delivering a real catch-up plan to help children and parents recover lost learning.

Inefficiency, bureaucracy and a slow rollout is a far cry from what our children need. Ministers must provide the assurances that additional tutoring support will reach every child who needs it.”

In June, the Portsmouth representative welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which would deliver investment of £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address the entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

The City MP was speaking in his first departmental education questions in the House of Commons, following his promotion to his new role as Shadow Schools Minister. He previously held the role of Shadow Armed Forces Minister.

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Portsmouth MP promoted to Shadow Schools Minister in Starmer’s new top team

The Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer MP has today named Stephen Morgan MP as the new Shadow Minister for Schools.

The city MP Stephen Morgan has secured the key role in the shadow education team following the Keir Starmer’s reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet earlier this week.

The promotion comes after the Portsmouth South MP has served on the Labour’s frontbench as Shadow Armed Forces Minister (April 2020-December 2021) and previously as Shadow Local Government Minister for Communities and Shadow Defence Procurement Minister.

Responding to the appointment, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Nothing is more important to our future as a country than giving children the opportunities they need.

“That’s why I want schools to be the place where children aim high, work hard and achieve their dreams, regardless of where they are from.

“It is a huge privilege to be appointed Shadow Schools Minister today.”

The Portsmouth-born MP attended local state schools in his constituency. He was the first in his family to go to University and has served as a chair of governors at a local primary, and as a governor at secondary school in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan will hold the government to account on school funding, recruitment and retention of teachers, qualifications, Coronavirus response for schools and pupil catch-up.

Recognising the challenges ahead, the new Shadow Minister added:

“The pandemic has caused huge disruption to children’s education, but this government’s last-minute decisions created further chaos and anxiety for students and staff.

“It’s vital that government learns the lessons of the past year and proactively prevents the new Omicron variant from interrupting schooling further. I’ll also be pushing the government on their total failure to bring forward a proper plan for our education recovery.

“I look forward to working with parents, teachers and children to give our children the best start in life, and with Keir Starmer and the new Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson on priorities of the country and returning Labour to power.”

The city MP hit the ground running on Friday with visits to two local schools following his appointment as Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister.

Visiting Manor Infant School and Nursery in Fratton for a tour of the new Year 1 outdoor area led by pupils, followed by a visit to Charter Academy in Southsea, the Shadow Minister met with the school council and student liaison team as well as the leadership of the academy over recent challenges in schools.

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Half of all Portsmouth students leaving education without key skills as City MP backs national reskilling campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has backed a ‘Ready for Work, Ready for Life’ campaign to deliver an education system that is fit for the future and equips young people, adults and our economy with the skills essential for success.
Currently 5 out of 10 young people in Portsmouth are leaving education without the level 3 (A-level or BTEC equivalent) skills and qualifications that are crucial for the modern economy. While Labour was in government, the number achieving these qualifications rose rapidly to 2010, but has since stalled with no national increase under the Conservatives since 2013.
It comes as the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact families with empty shelves and petrol pumps, and rising prices adding extra pressure.
In the sectors with the highest job vacancies in September – including health and care and wholesale – training opportunities have also been falling. Health and care sectors have seen further education student numbers fall by over 150,000 with a fall of over 138,000 students in retail and commerce.
This trend matches the declines in government investment. Funding for apprenticeships and adult education has fallen 35% in real-terms with spending on 16 – 19 education falling 21%.
At Labour Party Conference, Sir Keir Starmer set out plans to ensure young people leave education ready for work and ready for life. Alongside protecting BTEC qualifications, Labour would put a trained careers advisor in every school to help young people make the choices that are right for them and use unspent funding from the apprenticeships levy to create 100,000 new apprenticeships this year.
The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Families across Portsmouth are feeling the brunt of the Conservatives’ failure to deliver the skills and training opportunities our country needs, with shelves left empty, petrol pumps running dry and the risk of Christmas chaos.
“I’m proud to be supporting this campaign to ensure every young person leaves education ready for work and ready for life, giving them the best start to their adult lives and our economy the skills that will help rebuild our country.”

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Young people are being let down, leaving education without the skills and qualifications which will open doors for their futures.
“Labour has set out a clear plan to deliver the skills young people and our economy will need for the future, from giving children new digital skills to delivering thousands of new apprenticeships.
 “Under the Conservatives skills and vocational training have been overlooked and undervalued. Labour would ensure every young person leaves education ready for work and ready for life.”

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Portsmouth MP welcomes ‘exciting’ new partnership between Subsea Craft and UoP to develop cutting-edge maritime technology

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed a new partnership between Portsmouth-based Subsea Craft and the University of Portsmouth to develop cutting-edge maritime technology.

The partnership, funded by Subsea and by £220,000 made available by Innovate UK through the ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’ programme, will run for two years and see two new researchers (KTP Associates) join Subsea, with the company also gaining access to knowledge from the School of Energy and Electronic Engineering in the Faculty of Technology at the university.

The resultant technology will form part of the wider digital offer Subsea Craft are preparing alongside their flagship product, VICTA – the world’s most advanced diver-delivery unit that is capable of travelling at up to 40kts above surface, before rapidly moving sub-surface. The partnership will deliver vital digital capabilities that will further enhance those already embedded in VICTA.

The team at the University of Portsmouth, led by Professor Victor Becerra – who will be supported by Dr Edward Smart, Dr Hongjie Ma, and two researchers – has extensive experience in the industry.

The new agreement is expected to improve the university’s already expert knowledge in the sector, and provide them with another strategic business link in their region. For the associates being hired, it will provide the opportunity to work in a high-skilled advanced role, bringing more high-quality jobs to Portsmouth.

Visiting Subsea Craft’s facility in Portsmouth Harbour today, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan, said:

“I am delighted to see an innovative local SME partnering with the University to develop world-leading new technology here in our city.

“This partnership will not only deliver the next generation of marine technology for commercial and navy ships, it also drives the creation of the high skilled jobs that are crucial for our city’s economic success.

“I can think of no better place to begin this ground-breaking work than in the home and heart of the Royal Navy and I wish the project team every success.”

Scott Verney, CEO at Subsea, added:

“This partnership is not only a great one for Subsea as we continue to develop cutting edge maritime technology, but a good one for Portsmouth as a whole.

“Our ambition is to create a centre of maritime technology excellence at our HQ in the Camber, and this work with the University is a huge part of that.”

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Portsmouth MP calls on government to reassess plans to scrap the vast majority of BTEC qualifications

Stephen Morgan MP has joined calls urging the Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi to make an “early reassessment” of the Department for Education’s plan to remove funding for the vast majority of applied general qualifications such as BTECs.

It comes as the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign continues to grow, a coalition of 21 organisations that represent and support students and staff in schools, colleges and universities.

In July, the Department confirmed plans to introduce a twin-track system of A levels and T levels (a new suite of technical qualifications), where most young people pursue one of these qualifications at the age of 16. As a result, funding for most BTEC qualifications will be removed.

Under current proposals, larger BTEC qualifications (equivalent in size to 2 or 3 A levels) will be scrapped if the government deems they “overlap” with A levels or T levels. But the MPs and peers call for the option to study BTECs to be retained as they “are a different type of qualification that provide a different type of educational experience – one that combines the development of skills with academic learning”.

Recent data for participation in education, training and employment in England (end of 2019) shows that 864,304 16 to 18 year olds are studying at Level 3. The majority (55%) are studying A levels only, 19% are studying applied general qualifications such as BTECs (in some cases alongside A levels) and 4% are studying technical qualifications. Because of recent changes to Department for Education performance tables, 22% of students are categorised as studying an ‘Other Level 3’ course

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“The removal of BTECs represents a hammer blow for social mobility, the skills gap and the economy. BTECs serve a different purpose and should co-exist in the qualifications landscape.”

During Love our Colleges Week, it’s really important we underline the importance of and value BTECs bring to education.

“Speaking to constituents, I know how critical these qualifications can be to ensure students have the knowledge and skills they need for the future.

Government must look again and Protect Student Choice.”