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Portsmouth MP gets ‘sneak peak’ of new university sports complex

Stephen Morgan MP has been given a ‘sneak peak’ of the University of Portsmouth’s new sports facility as the city’s new asset nears completion.

The reported £57m Ravelin Sports Centre in the heart of Portsmouth will feature a swimming pool, climbing wall, ski simulator and sports hall – as well as a 175-station fitness suite.

The Portsmouth MP was able to tour the new sports facilities and met with the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Graham Galbraith, and Fiona Bell, Director of Estates & Campus Services, to learn more about the community benefits the investment will bring to the city.

Mr Morgan has been working alongside the University as it takes forward its commitments as part of the Civic Commission to be a strong local neighbour to communities across the city.

Following the visit, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“It was really useful to be on-site today to learn more about the university’s ambitions for what looks to be a really exciting addition to our city.

“Access to facilities like this provide the much needed physical and mental health benefits many students have missed out on this year, so it’s really encouraging to see this new long-term high-quality asset from the University not only for our student population, but for the whole city.”

“This is the vision and investment our community needs to recover from this crisis, and I am grateful to the University of Portsmouth for helping to secure it.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Graham Galbraith, added:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to show Stephen Morgan MP around the University’s new Ravelin Sports Centre today.

“The Sports Centre, set in historic parkland, has outstanding sustainability credentials and will be available for students, staff as well as members of the public.

“Through our Estates Masterplan, the University is investing in both our campus and Portsmouth to ensure our students enjoy the very best facilities while studying at the University.”

The wider community will be able to access the facility through a ‘pay as you go’ membership.

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Portsmouth MP calls government out on ‘meagre’ catch-up proposals for local schoolchildren

Stephen Morgan MP puts pressure on ministers in the House of Commons for the ‘meagre’ catch-up for proposals for schoolchildren in Portsmouth. 

Today the city MP used departmental questions to ask the Government their plans to properly support pupils in Portsmouth, lobbying Ministers with written questions. 

It was recently revealed average achievement at the end of compulsory education is lower in Portsmouth compared to the rest of the country, especially for young men.  

Currently, 46% and 59% of boys and girls in Portsmouth achieve 5 or more good GCSEs at age 16 (i.e. grades A*-C), whereas in England this is 52% and 62% for boys and girls. 

Meanwhile, children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just 0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.  

It comes after an outcry when the Chancellor rejected recommendations from Boris Johnson’s expert education advisor, Sir Kevan Collins, for a comprehensive package of support for children’s education post pandemic, risking the futures of hundreds of thousands of children and leading to Sir Kevan’s resignation. 

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

Young people are likely to be one of the most severely impacted groups by this pandemic and a first-class education for them will be key for both their own development and our city’s recovery. 

“This government’s current catch-up plan proposals for young students, who missed so much due to this pandemic, fall far short from where they need to be and Portsmouth and the wider region can no longer be an afterthought for this government if we are to truly reset our economy for the better. 

“Young families in Portsmouth deserve so much more and I will continue to push Ministers into action to ensure our city gets the support it deserves.” 

The Portsmouth representative has 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. 

Mr Morgan has also submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on greater support for early years and childcare providers across Portsmouth and the country. 

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City MP joins vote to force Chancellor to ‘come clean’ on blocking children’s education in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has today joined Labour Party colleagues in triggering a binding vote in the House of Commons to force the government to publish all communications – including emails and text messages – between the Treasury, Department for Education and Prime Minister’s office regarding the rejection of recommendations for children’s pandemic recovery from Boris Johnson’s expert education advisor, Sir Kevan Collins.

The vote comes after an outcry when the Chancellor rejected Sir Kevan’s recommendation for a comprehensive package of support for children’s education post pandemic, risking the futures of hundreds of thousands of children and leading to Sir Kevan’s resignation.

Children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ meagre education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just 0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.

The Portsmouth representative has welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which builds on the incredible efforts of our education system during the pandemic, by giving all schools the resources to deliver a new range of activities, from sport to music, boosting wellbeing and social development while supporting every child’s learning and investing in education staff.

To build on the incredible work of teachers, school leaders, teaching assistants and support staff during the pandemic, Labour’s plan 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 entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

The member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“We all deserve to know the reasons why the Chancellor rejected such a vital plan for our children’s future.

“The Conservatives have treated our children and young people as an afterthought throughout this pandemic and are now failing to deliver the investment needed to help their recovery.

“Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all children in Portsmouth based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people vital for our economic recovery.”

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP, added:

“There has been nothing but silence from the Chancellor since the government’s own advisor resigned in protest at his recommendations being scrapped.

“And there has been no reassurance for parents and children as to how the government will help support their wellbeing and development after such a difficult 15 months for their education, mental health and development.

“At the very least, we all deserve to know the reasons why the Chancellor rejected such a vital plan for our children’s future, and unless he U-turns soon, blocking this investment could see our economy take a hit of hundreds of billions of pounds. It’s the ultimate false economy.”

Earlier this month, Mr Morgan backed Labour’s education recovery plan and has also submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on greater support for early years and childcare providers across Portsmouth and the country.

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Portsmouth MP backs Labour’s bold post-covid education proposals for children to ‘play, learn and develop’

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his support behind Labour’s extensive new education plan for the immediate post-Covid period, fuelled by the widely held understanding that children make academic progress when they are happy and well-supported.

At the heart of the new plans is a focus on ensuring children’s education results in happy, confident, ambitious young people, well prepared for the world of work, no matter where they come from or what type of school they go to.

It comes following recent reports that pupils in Portsmouth missed more than 100,000 days of face-to-face teaching during the autumn term, with many students having to either self-isolate or shield.

Labour’s plan would deliver:

  • Breakfast clubs and new activities for every child: from breakfast clubs to sport, drama, book clubs and debating societies, a fully funded expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities to boost time for children to play and socialise after months away from their friends;
  • Quality mental health support in every school: give every child the support they need to transition back to school and manage personal challenges, with access to qualified in-school counselling staff alongside boosting wellbeing through extra activities;
  • Small group tutoring for all who need it, not just 1%: make small group teaching available to all children who need it not just 1%, by reforming the Government’s failing tutoring programme to make sure no child falls behind because of pandemic disruption;
  • Continued development for teachers: Teachers have had one of the toughest years of their careers – it is only by supporting them with training to stay on top of the latest knowledge and techniques that we can give every child a brilliant classroom experience;
  • An Education Recovery Premium: support every child to reach their potential by investing in children who have faced the greatest disruption during the pandemic from early years to further education, and double the Pupil Premium for children in key transition years, delivering additional support for children who need it most;
  • Ensure no child goes hungry: no child will go hungry with Labour, by extending free school meals over the holidays, including the summer break.

Labour’s announcement comes with a warning from Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, that the Conservatives are “showing no ambition for our children’s futures”, after reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will only spend £1.5bn on children’s recovery, 10 times less their ‘Catch-up Czar’ Kevan Collins has told Ministers is needed.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“If we are to truly build back better from this crisis, we cannot afford for our future generation to not be equipped with the skills and learning they need, to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“Students have faced serious disruption to their learning during this crisis, so it is only right they are backed with a truly bold and ambitious plan that is needed to get them back on track.

“Labour’s plan would do just that and it has my full support.”

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

“Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people.”

“We must match the ambition children have for their own futures and put them at the heart of our national recovery. This is an investment that our children’s futures and the future of our country depends on.”

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‘Government levelling up agenda failing’ says local MP as pupils in class sizes over 30 continue to rise

Stephen Morgan MP has said the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is failing as new analysis reveals that one in thirteen pupils in Portsmouth are in class sizes over 30.

The new analysis from Labour has shown that since 2010, the number of pupils in classes over 30 in Portsmouth has increased by 233.

This picture is reflected nationally, with Labour analysis of House of Commons data, showing that since 2010:

  • The number of secondary pupils in classes of 31 or more has risen from one in ten to almost one in seven pupils
  • The number of primary pupils in classes of 31 or more has risen from one in nine to one in eight pupils

In Portsmouth, disadvantaged pupils are falling behind their peers in their learning and development, with those in early years five months behind, primary students over ten months behind and secondary students nearly two years behind (23.6 months).

To tackle these inequalities, Labour has launched a new ‘Bright Future Taskforce’ to deliver a long-term strategy for children’s recovery and ensure every child has the chance to fulfil their potential.

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

“Over the last decade the Conservatives have made the wrong choices for children in Portsmouth, overseeing an increase in class sizes and failing to tackle the gap in learning which is holding children back. 

“Labour has launched our Bright Future Taskforce to tackle the damage done by these policies ensuring every child can recover from the pandemic and achieve their potential.”

Upon many students in Portsmouth returning to school last week, Mr Morgan joined Labour’s call for breakfast clubs to recover lost learning as students return.

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Local MP calls for breakfast clubs to recover lost learning as students return

Stephen Morgan MP has joined the Official Opposition’s call for the introduction of catch-up breakfast clubs to help kids in Portsmouth recover lost time with friends and teachers during the pandemic.

The Portsmouth MP is lobbying the Education Secretary in support of the suggested measures to address the disruption to learning and social development of students caused by the pandemic and the latest period of lockdown.

Analysis from Labour shows that children have each lost an average of 109 face-to-face school days. Despite this, there was no mention of children in last week’s Budget and Ministers’ single-year catch-up plan amounts to just 43p a day per child over the next school year.

Labour argues introducing a universal offer for catch-up breakfast clubs would ensure children in Portsmouth receive a healthy breakfast before school, have extra time to socialise and give schools time to provide targeted tuition or catch up support.

The latest action by the Portsmouth South MP follows the launch of Labour’s new ‘Bright Future Taskforce’, which will deliver a long-term strategy for children’s recovery and ensure every child has the chance to fulfil their potential.

In Portsmouth, disadvantaged pupils are falling behind their peers in their learning and development, with those in early years five months behind, primary students over ten months behind and secondary students nearly two years behind (23.6 months).

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

‘’Children in Portsmouth have often been an afterthought for this government; forgotten during in midst of the pandemic, but now also being forgotten in the recovery too.

“Throughout this crisis I have been calling on the government to help address the digital divide and support local disadvantaged children. It is clear this divide has sadly only got wider during this pandemic.

“Introducing universal breakfast clubs would ensure children get a healthy breakfast, which we know is central to children’s ability to learn and enable children to make up for the time lost with their friends and teachers.’’

Mr Morgan has been engaging with parents and school staff throughout the pandemic to hear issues and concerns and take them back to Westminster.

He wrote to the Education Secretary back in January to provide assurances on early years funding when many faced financial uncertainty due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP calls on the Government to support families during lockdown

Today, Stephen Morgan MP, has demanded the government give families the support they need while schools and colleges are closed to most pupils.

This follows news that the government will not be providing Free School Meals funding during February half-term, leaving 6,580 children in Portsmouth at risk of going hungry.

Labour is calling on the government to guarantee that all eligible children receive the full value of free school meals during this school year, including during all holidays.

To enable this, the government should set-up cash payments so parents can choose the spend the £15 free school meal funding on the food and supplies that are right for their children.

Children’s education is being further put at risk by the government’s failure to provide the laptops and digital access needed for remote learning. Two weeks into lockdown, 97,800 of the government’s promised laptops still have not been delivered to children across the south east.

Labour will call a vote in Parliament on Monday to ask the government to guarantee that all eligible children are getting the full value of free school meals support, including during school holidays, and have the digital access they need to learn remotely.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“The government has had no plan to support children’s education, wellbeing or futures during this pandemic.

“Cutting free school meals support and leaving children without the equipment to learn remotely in our city is simply unacceptable.

 “I will not stand by and let families be the victims of the government’s incompetence. Boris Johnson and his MPs must now do the right thing and vote to support Labour’s proposals on Monday.”

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Revealed: The striking similarities between shameful meal parcels and Government guidance

Labour today reveals that the Government’s own guidance on what should be in food parcels is strikingly similar to images circulating on social media in recent days – with less than a 50p daily difference.

It comes as Stephen Morgan MP has stepped up pressure for the Government to ensure families are getting the full value of Free School Meals support here in Portsmouth.

Ministers have described images circulating in recent days as “completely unacceptable.” The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, told the Education Select Committee that “it will not be tolerated we will not live with that.” But research from Labour suggests that the packages aren’t as far removed from Government guidance as ministers are suggesting.

Guidance written by the Department for Education and pointed to from gov.uk suggests “general principles for putting together” parcels. And the similarities between them and the images circulating are striking.

The key items missing are two ‘tins of meat’, a litre of milk and a tin of sweetcorn. A leading UK supermarket prices this at about 47p of food a day. This doesn’t include items that are not in the guidance but in the picture, such as Soreen and pasta.

Widely shared image on social media Government guidance
1 x loaf of bread 1 x loaf of bread
2 x potatoes 2 x potatoes
1 x tomato 3 x tomatoes
5 x portions of fruit 5 x portions of fruit
? x cheese portions 3 x cheese portions
1 x tin of baked beans 1 x tin of baked beans
3 x yoghurts 3 x individual serving yoghurt pots
1 x bag of pasta 1 x cucumber
2 x packets Soreen 1 x tin sweetcorn
2 x carrots 1 x bottle milk
2 x tin of meat

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

“The images that have been circulating on social media are shameful and have shocked many constituents.

“But these revelations about the Government’s own guidance as we have learnt today means that ministers’ newfound concern rings hollow. A couple of tins and a bottle of milk isn’t the difference between acceptable or unacceptable.

“I will continue to put pressure on Government to act. Many in our city were already struggling to make ends meet before this pandemic. This crisis has made life for them even harder. Portsmouth families deserve better from Ministers”.

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister, added:

“The Government’s response has yet again been far too slow, with national food vouchers only becoming available from next week – two weeks after schools moved to remote learning.

“Children are going hungry now – this cannot wait.”

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Portsmouth MP sets out education priorities Government must tackle for city

Stephen Morgan MP lobbies the Secretary of State for Education on key priorities for education in Portsmouth, following school closures and the cancellation of GCSE and A-level exams.

With many students now set to learn from home over the coming weeks as the country entered a period of lockdown this week, Mr Morgan has expressed concerns a number of gaps remain that risk creating a generational disadvantage for pupils, as well as unsafe working conditions for staff if not addressed urgently.

The MP’s key priorities set out in a letter to Government, include:

  • Eliminate the digital divide, urging the government to adopt Labour’s proposals to guarantee every child a device and connectivity to safeguard learning during this phase of the pandemic.
  • Keeping staff safe and getting children back into the classroom by setting out a proactive strategy to reopen schools after February half term, including the vaccination of all education staff to keep them safe and get children back into the classroom.
  • Proper financial support for schools by improving financial support to make sure pupils and staff are protected, including nurseries.
  • Plan responsibly for alternative exams by setting out how the Government will support teachers to undertake these new responsibilities, at a time when they are having to work round the clock to implement constantly shifting guidance from the department.

The Portsmouth South MP also called for clarity on a plan for other summer examinations, as well as make alternative arrangements for this week’s BTEC exams, following calls from local parents, colleges and the Association of Colleges.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“The uncertainty for pupils, parents and school staff in Portsmouth is seriously concerning and the Secretary of State must clarify the Government’s wider strategy on this immediately.

“I am particularly worried about the impacts this period of lockdown could have on those young people who do not have access to a computer and in turn the damages to their futures this could cause.

“Meanwhile, the Government should also be concentrating its efforts on rolling out the vaccine and getting students back into the classroom as quickly and safely as possible.”

 

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Lockdown: your questions answered

Stephen Morgan’s responses to lockdown FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions on the new national lockdown coming into force this Wednesday (6 January) and some Stephen’s views:

National lockdown

What is the justification for a national lockdown?

It is clear that the virus is out of control, more and more people are getting infected by the disease and this is putting immense pressure on our NHS.  The tiers established by Government put Portsmouth in the toughest of tiers, yet this has not been working well to contain the virus.

Stephen has said that the Government should have acted on the scientific advice it had before Christmas that a lockdown similar to March was needed to get control of the virus. He also believes Ministers must not keep making the same mistakes again, which is why a national lockdown is now necessary.

‘We need a step change in our response from Government to the virus and a national effort to get control of the virus, protect the NHS, vaccinate Britain’ Stephen has said.

What should be included in a national lockdown?

It is right that the Government has set out that the national lockdown is for all of England comparable to the restrictions introduced in March.

Schools are part of the national lockdown but Stephen believes measures need to be put in place to protect working parents, for children to learn at home, and for schools to reopen safely as soon as possible.

Vaccine

What does Stephen want to see happen with the vaccine roll out?

Our country was the first in the world to get the vaccine, we should now aim to be the first in the world to get vaccinated.

Stephen wants to see the Government delivering a vaccination programme with the very least two million people a week getting the jab, with the aim of doubling that figure by the end of February.

Government should recruit an army of volunteers to help and cut the red tape that is making it difficult for retired NHS staff to help out. Ministers should also ensure we have vaccination centres in every local community and provide GPs with the resources they need.

Stephen is calling for Portsmouth to have a vaccination hub as soon as possible, and alongside this, has been calling for mass testing in the community.

The government must also be clear with the public about the number of vaccines we have available every day and getting on with delivering them.

‘The NHS says it is ready – the Government must now deliver’ says Stephen.

The local economy

What financial support should be in place?

Introducing a national lockdown now is the best way to support the economy. If the PM had continued to dither and delay he would have caused greater damage to businesses, jobs and livelihoods in our city.

Stephen has been taken action to ensure the economic package from Government supports businesses through this crisis and reflects the severity of restrictions.

In particular the government should immediately:

  • Use the £2 billion handed back to the Treasury by supermarkets and other large shops to help hard-hit businesses, including those in hospitality, and those who have been excluded from support.
  • Reform the one-off £20-a-head business support payment so that areas that have been in tougher restrictions for longer get more support.
  • Amend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme so people who have got new jobs since October 31st and are now at risk of losing them can be placed on furlough.
  • Find a solution to help those excluded from financial support so far from Government.

Stephen is calling for greater support for Portsmouth in light of the city entering national lockdown after being in the toughest conditions in tier 4.

Schools

Should schools be shut?  

Yes. Stephen has said the closure of schools for most pupils is a huge failure because the Government has lost control of the virus and been too slow.

Education has been Labour’s priority throughout the pandemic and have always said that schools must be the last thing to close.

The switch to remote learning for most pupils now looks inevitable and sadly necessary as part of a national lockdown.

The government need a plan for school closures to ensure that pupils don’t fall behind, that working parents and staff are supported, and that schools are reopened safely as soon as possible.

What provision should be in place for children missing out on school?

We must get children back in school safely as soon as possible, with a clear timeframe for reopening.

During the lockdown, all vulnerable and key worker children who can be in school should be. Stephen is calling on the government to work with schools and councils to ensure that vulnerable children are identified and supported to attend school throughout a national lockdown.

All pupils who are learning remotely must have the resources they need to do so. That means devices and connectivity for all pupils, particularly the most disadvantaged, and a plan to ensure that nobody is priced out of the education they are entitled to.

What support should there be for working parents?

Working parents face huge challenges in balancing work, childcare, and supporting children’s education. They must have the support they need to do this.

Government and employers must clearly promote the use of the job retention scheme for those who cannot work because of childcare commitments and emphasise the fact that this can be used on a flexible and part-time basis. Nobody should have to choose between their job and support their children.

Stephen believes that we cannot return to the confusion of the first lockdown, when parents did not know if their child could attend school when most pupils learned remotely. The list of critical workers must be clearly communicated to schools and families.

What would need to happen for schools to reopen?

We cannot enter a period in which schools are closed indefinitely – the consequences for children’s education and wellbeing would be devastating and last for years to come.

While school closures were inevitable to reduce the spread of the virus, we must act to ensure that children are not out of school for months.

That is why Stephen is calling on government to set out a clear plan for getting schools open again and any period of school closures must be used to get control of the virus and make schools safer.

The government should look at using a rota system after any period of closures, to ensure that children can begin getting back in the classroom safely as soon as possible.