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National Apprenticeship Week: Portsmouth MP backs plan to create over 9,000 apprenticeships in South East

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the government to adopt a plan to create over 9,000 new apprenticeships for young people in the South East as the city marks National Apprenticeship Week.

National Apprenticeships Week recognises the enormous contribution made by apprentices and their employers in Portsmouth, giving people the chance to earn as they learn and delivering the skills our country needs to prosper. However, under the Conservatives these training opportunities have been disappearing especially for young people. The government has overseen a decline in apprenticeship starts of 460 since 2010 in the city MP’s constituency of Portsmouth South.

To reverse this downward trend and secure the skills our country needs for the future, Labour has called on the government to introduce a wage subsidy which could have created 9,023 new apprenticeships in the South East this year. This subsidy would be funded from underspent funding in the apprenticeships levy – a charge large employers have to pay to government.

Backed by the Association of Employers and Learning Providers (AELP), Labour’s plan could have created 100,000 new apprenticeships for 16-24-year olds across England this year.

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

“National Apprenticeship Week recognises the enormous contribution made by apprentices to our city’s economy and wider society.

“However, the Government is not doing enough to support opportunities for local young people or for Portsmouth’s economy in order for it to prosper after a decade of decline.

“I’ve seen first-hand the power of apprenticeships to transform lives after talking with apprentices and employers. That’s why I am calling on Ministers to back this plan to boost opportunities for local young people and help secure our economy post-pandemic.”

Shadow Minister for Further Education and Skills, Toby Perkins MP, said:

“The Conservatives have overseen a decade of decline in apprenticeships, failing to secure the skills and training opportunities our country needs.

“Instead of focusing on creating new opportunities for young people and tackling the skills shortages across key sectors of the UK economy, this government is distracted by scandals at the heart of Downing Street.

“Ministers should adopt Labour’s plan to create thousands of new apprenticeships this year, securing the opportunities young people need to gain productive skills and support our economy to prosper.”

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Portsmouth MP hails local school’s ‘important’ early years playground for physical development

Stephen Morgan MP has praised Cumberland Infant School’s new physical development area for the ‘important’ role it will play for early years children.

Opening the new Early Years playground today, the Portsmouth MP said that he was encouraged to learn about what benefits it will bring to local pupils now and in the years to come.

The city MP also took the opportunity to thank teachers and staff for their efforts in dealing with the disruption caused by Covid over the last two years, as well as to better understand the current issues and challenges they face.

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

It’s been fantastic to visit Cumberland Infant School today to open its new Early Years playground and learn about the benefits it will bring to the development of local young pupils now and in the years to come.

“Teachers and staff have done a tremendous job here under incredibly difficult circumstances over the last couple of years and I’m hugely grateful for their efforts, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to thank some of them in person today and learn more about the current set of challenges and issues they face. 

“I will be continuing to push ministers to deliver the support young people in Portsmouth and the country need to secure the brighter futures they deserve.”

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Shadow Schools Minister challenges government to meet ‘generational’ covid lost learning challenge

Stephen Morgan MP said in a House of Commons debate today that government ‘must confront’ the impact of lost learning pupils have suffered due to Covid.

Children in England missed over ten million school days for Covid-related reasons in the last term alone. Meanwhile, pupil absences are also up 35 per cent since the start of January and a quarter of schools have 15 per cent of their teachers and leaders off work.

As a result, the Portsmouth MP warned of the ‘stark scale of the generational challenge we now face.’

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an average loss of six months of schooling for students could see a reduction in their lifetime income of 4%. This equates to a total of £350 billion in lost earnings for the 8.7 million school-aged children in the UK.

Mr Morgan criticised the level of funding for the government’s catch-up plan, which equates to just £300 per pupil, or just £1 per day for children that have been out of school. The government’s Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, resigned in protest following the government’s rejection of his own recommendation of £1,685 per pupil.

Mr Morgan also blasted the government’s National Tutoring Programme. Designed as the centrepiece of the government’s education catch-up plans, recent data revealed it was reaching less than 10% its pupil target this year, with no data on engagement with those most in need.

Labour has said its £15 billion Education Recovery Plan would deliver:

  • School activities and breakfast clubs
  • Quality mental health support in every school
  • Small group tutoring for all who need it;
  • And make real investment in our teachers

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

“While government is paralysed by the Prime Minister’s repeated scandals, the consequences of learning loss loom larger with every passing day.

“Without further intervention, the pandemic’s damage will become irreversible. The impact will plague children, the education system and the wider economy for decades to come.

“Ministers must confront the backlog of lost learning with the ambition and clear vision that is needed for Portsmouth and the country. If Ministers won’t step up for our nation’s children, the next Labour government will.”

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‘Big on rhetoric, little on delivery’ – Portsmouth MP sets out five key tests for Levelling Up as city faces over £20m of lost funding

Stephen Morgan MP has backed five tests set by Labour which the Government’s Levelling Up plan must meet in order to deliver on the promises of the 2019 election.

Talking about why these tests are important the Portsmouth MP pointed to new research from Labour which has revealed that areas in virtually every area of England (95%) has received less in funding on average since 2018 than they received from regional development funds, such as the Towns Fund.

The research found that in England 144 local authority areas were still worse off by approximately £50 million on average after receiving Levelling Up funding.

In Portsmouth, local Settlement Funding has reduced in real terms by £45.4m since 2018, while successful bids through the Levelling Up Fund and Community Renewal Fund only totalled £21.6m, showing a £23.8m real-terms loss for the area since the Government’s levelling up agenda was announced.

Labour has said the Government must meet the ambitions people have for our own communities, including:

  1. Good jobs in our home towns, so young people have choices and chances and don’t have to get out to get on.
  2. Our high streets are thriving because the local economy is thriving, with good local businesses and money in people’s pockets – not just papering over the cracks.
  3. Our towns and villages are better connected to jobs, opportunities, our family and our friends through good transport, digital infrastructure and affordable housing that we have too often missed out on.
  4. We get the power to take local decisions for ourselves – ending the system where we have to go cap in hand to Westminster to do things we know will work for us.
  5. Our town centres are safe and welcoming instead of plagued by anti-social behaviour, with criminals being let off and victims let down.”

The city MP has also accused the government of having no real plan to deliver on its ambitious promises to drive up school standards and give young people and adults access to the skills they need, as well as pointing to the government’s record over the last 11 years.

Funding for schools serving the least advantaged communities fell between 2017 and 2021 while increasing in the most advantaged areas, and the IFS has previously described the government’s approach to school funding as a threat to levelling-up.

Meanwhile, the number of secondary school teachers has declined by 8,913, with teacher vacancies across all schools more than doubling since 2010.

200,000 primary age children were also growing up in areas with not a single primary school rated good or outstanding.

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

“While the Government is distracted cleaning up the Prime Minister’s scandals, they aren’t governing, and they aren’t delivering for Portsmouth. Ministers have failed to provide what is needed to address the chronic issues our city faces through their Levelling Up Fund. A few pots of money to scrap over won’t cut it.

“With these tests, we will see if the Government really intends to match the ambition we have for our communities with the power and resources we are owed.

“Government has had 11 years to drive up school standards across the country and these Education Investment Areas, which Portsmouth has been included in, are merely a recycling of the Opportunity Areas programme which has failed to deliver consistent improvements across schools. Plenty on rhetoric, little on delivery.

“We need to change the settlement of our country back in favour of those who built it. That means growing our economy, and ensuring jobs and opportunities are spread fairly across the country so that young people in our city don’t have to get out to get on.”

As well as working alongside the city council, backing its Levelling Up Fund bids, questioning Ministers, and lobbying the Chancellor directly over investment in the constituency, the Portsmouth MP has vowed to continue to fight In Parliament for what the area deserves. He is meeting with officials soon over submission of further proposals to Government.

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Shadow Schools Minister grills government on pupil vaccine target as covid absences rise

Shadow Schools Minister and Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has pressed the government to offer every 12 – 15 year old a vaccine to help limit rising covid absences.

At education questions in the House of Commons, Mr Morgan pointed out that the government missed its own target to offer every child a vaccine by October half term.

He then pressed: “What is the Minister’s target now and when does he plan to meet it?”

The latest figures reveal that 46 per cent of 12 – 15 year olds are yet to receive a first dose of the Covid vaccine.

On 20 January, 415,000 children were off school due to Covid while a quarter of schools had 15% of their teachers and leaders off work.

Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Children and school staff are still living the day-to-day reality of covid, but this government doesn’t have a plan to support them.

“We know vaccines are key to keeping children in class learning together, yet almost half haven’t had a first dose and rates are falling.

“Ministers must redouble their efforts to encourage vaccine uptake in this age group and tackle dangerous disinformation to drive down covid-related absences.”

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Shadow Minister responds to latest school absence data

Stephen Morgan MP Shadow Schools Minister has responded to figures showing 415,000 children were off school due to Covid on 20 January while a quarter of schools had 15% of their teachers and leaders off work.


The city MP said:


“Children and school staff are living the day-to-day reality of covid, but this government still doesn’t have a plan to support them.


“Pupil absence is soaring, and it is particularly alarming that almost a quarter of schools now have more than 15% of school leaders and teachers absent. 


“Labour has been clear ventilation, vaccination and testing are key to keep schools moving and delivering Labour’s ambitious recovery plan to help every child thrive.


“The government must immediately publish complete figures on its volunteer teacher drive and get a proper workforce plan in place to support staff and students. Our children must not endure another wave of covid chaos because this government is distracted trying to covering up rule breaking at the heart of Downing Street.”



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Portsmouth MP tours city’s ‘fantastic’ new Rainbow Fish Centre for children with special educational needs

Stephen Morgan MP has met with the first intake of pupils of the city’s recently opened Rainbow Fish Centre, and praised the work of local teachers for their efforts.

The £1.1m inclusion centre, part of Penhale Infant School in Fratton, will provide facilities for children who need additional support with their learning, as many of the city’s students catch-up from lost in-classroom learning because of the pandemic.

Visiting the centre based at the city MP’s former infant school, Mr Morgan toured the facilities with the Assistant Headteacher Jack Jones and saw children enjoying the new classrooms.

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

It’s been fantastic to finally be able to see first-hand some of the brilliant work Penhale Infant School are doing at the Rainbow Fish Centre.

“The Rainbow Fish Centre is delivering critical work to help Portsmouth’s young people get the specialist learning support they need, and I want to thank all the incredible staff for their efforts.

“I want to make sure no child is left behind. All children, no matter their circumstances, deserve the necessary support to achieve the very best outcomes in life, but most importantly to live fulfilling and happy lives. I will continue to make this case to Government.”

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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.