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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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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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Portsmouth MP slams government as new research reveals thousands of local children living in poverty

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the government today after new analysis published by the End Child Poverty Coalition showed a sharp rise in child poverty in Britain in the last 5 years, with more than 400,000 more children living in poverty after housing costs than in 2015.

Child poverty was rising sharply even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which is feared to have exacerbated the situation even further.

Child poverty is also rising locally and there are now 7,154 children in Portsmouth South living in poverty, an increase of 7.7% from five years ago. A staggering 37.5% of all children in the constituency are living below the poverty line, after housing costs.

Researchers combined data on child poverty published by the Department for Work and Pensions in May with information about local housing costs to build a detailed picture of child poverty across the country.

Mr Morgan has also signed the new “No Child Left Behind” pledge launched today by the National Education Union which says:

“As a Member of Parliament, I pledge to do everything in my power so that no child is left behind in Portsmouth.

“I call for the development of a cross-Government strategy to eradicate the poverty faced by the 4.3 million children currently growing up trapped in poverty. 

“I will use my vote and voice in Parliament to try to stop an expected 730,000 more children being plunged into poverty by 2024. 

“We must value and invest in all our children, so they are supported to learn, succeed, and go on to have bright futures.”

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“These figures are shocking and heart breaking. This Government has presided over a staggering increase in child poverty, and ministers should hang their heads in shame.

“Boris Johnson talks a good game about levelling up the country, but this Government’s shameful record is one of rising poverty, soaring food bank use and a widening attainment gap.

“I will keep standing up for children in Portsmouth and campaign for a Labour Government that will make tackling child poverty a top priority.

“That is why I am proud to sign the National Education Union’s pledge committing to do everything in my power to ensure no child is left behind.”

The Portsmouth MP criticised the government last year for failing for afford free school meals to children last year. For families in need of support, you can find range of local contacts for foodbanks and other organisations here.

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Portsmouth MP backs Walk to School Week campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has praised pupils in Portsmouth South this week as they celebrate the strides they have made to improve air quality and get active by walking to school, as part of Walk to School Week (17-21 May 2021).

Walk to School Week is organised by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. It encourages families to walk, wheel, cycle or scoot to school and see the big differences that come from small steps, from healthier and happier children to fewer cars outside the school gates.

A generation ago, 70 per cent of children walked to school, now it’s less than half. The Government has recognised the importance of walking to school and has set a target to get 55 per cent of primary school pupils walking to school by 2025.

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

“Walk to School Week gives children the chance to enjoy fresh air and exercise. It reduces congestion, improves road safety and means we have cleaner air and less problem parking around schools.

“I am proud to support Walk to School Week as it provides a fantastic opportunity for families in Portsmouth to give walking to school a go and see how they could make a more permanent change to their travel plans. “

Mary Creagh, Chief Executive, Living Streets added:  

“Walk to School Week is a fun, inclusive, free and simple activity, which improves the physical and mental wellbeing of children and celebrates walking for all.   

“Pupils enjoy the health and happiness that comes from walking, while schools and local communities enjoy reduced congestion and pollution.

“We’re thrilled that families nationwide are joining us this week and enjoying the fresh air, fun, freedom, and friendship that walking to school brings.”

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Portsmouth MP urges young people to vote early to ‘ensure their voices are heard’

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the young people of Portsmouth to vote early to make sure they have their say in the forthcoming local elections on Thursday 6 May.

It comes as new analysis from Labour has shown that less than 10 percent of young people have registered for a postal vote, compared to more than a quarter of those over 65, with four days to left until the deadline to register to vote by post in England.

With less than half of 18-25-year-olds voting at the 2019 General Election, turnout among young people is expected to be historically low at the May elections amid the pandemic.

Mr Morgan has said that young people must be at the heart of Britain’s recovery from this crisis, with successive Conservative governments weakening Britain’s foundations and robbing too many young people of the opportunities they deserve.

Labour warns that Government inaction on postal voting threatens UK democracy and public health and is calling for councils to receive dedicated Government support for postal vote sign up efforts ahead of the deadline for postal vote registration in England on 20 April.

With those aged 18 and older due to be vaccinated by 31 July in England, many young people are unlikely to be vaccinated by election day.

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

“After the devastating year they’ve had, young people must have their voices heard in this election.

“Young people have played a central role in our city’s response to this crisis, with many volunteering to support the most vulnerable in our community and fighting as key workers on the front line to protect our families. The Tories continue to treat young people as an afterthought in this crisis – these are they key workers of the future.

“Young people are not expected to be vaccinated ahead of the May polls, which makes postal vote sign-up critical. “

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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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Budget 2021: City MP accuses government of ‘failing to deliver levelling up agenda’

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government for failing to deliver for Portsmouth in the government’s annual budget announced earlier today.

The Portsmouth MP has accused the government of failing to deliver for the city over a number of years, as well as do enough to support and protect it during the COVID-19 crisis.

The budget includes:

  • An extension to the furlough scheme until the end of September, despite the Official Opposition’s and Mr Morgan’s calls to do this months ago, when in February it was estimated that over 15,000 people in Portsmouth were still furloughed by their employer in late January.
  • A demand for local families to pay for gaps in council budgets, rather than fulfilling the Chancellor’s prior pledge to back them, which could amount to as much as £89 extra on annual household council tax bills for the average Band D home in Portsmouth.
  • A freeze to some key workers’ pay, including at least 13,900 key workers in Portsmouth – the teachers, police officers and Armed Forces personnel on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

It comes as earlier this week Mr Morgan called for a ‘Jobs Promise’ for young people in Portsmouth, with the number of people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support more than doubling in the last year, rising from 780 at the start of 2020 to now 1830 (an increase of 135%), according to the latest figures.

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

“This budget fails to deliver for Portsmouth and the government’s own ‘levelling-up agenda. It barely mentioned inequality, let alone tried to address it. This is not levelling up, but giving up.

“It fails our families, young people, key workers and those left ignored by the government both during this and successive Tory governments.

From the local cabbie on our high street, to the NHS nurse at our own QA Hospital, they did not get what they needed today.

“I promise to do all I can to ensure Portsmouth gets the support it needs to recover from this crisis, and what it deserves, to become the future city we all know it can be.”

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Budget 2021: City MP calls for ‘jobs promise’ as out of work support for under 25s more than doubles in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has called for a ‘jobs promise’ for young people in Portsmouth after new figures show that, without immediate action to secure the economy, the crisis threatens to create a lost generation of young people scarred by the effects of long-term unemployment.

In Portsmouth alone, the number of people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support has more than doubled in the last year, rocketing from 780 at the start of 2020 to now 1830 (an increase of 135%), according to the latest figures.

It comes as the Official Opposition has outlined its plans for a ‘Jobs Promise’ that any young person away from work for six months will be offered a quality education, training, or employment opportunity.

Under the plans, Labour will also support job creation across the country including 400,000 green jobs, filling the 127,000 vacancies currently in health and social care and 43,000 vacancies in education through improved training offers.

Labour continues to challenge the Government on a range of its job schemes. Currently 300 young people are losing their jobs every day – but the Government’s flagship Kickstart scheme has created just 2,000 jobs in six months.

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

“For too long young people in Portsmouth have been let down and left forgotten by this government. The Chancellor talks about ‘levelling up’, but it is clear these issues have only been exacerbated by this crisis with his Kickstart scheme clearly too slow and not matching the scale of challenge many young people in Portsmouth face.

“Labour’s Jobs Promise would deliver the urgent action needed to prevent a lost generation and to build a secure economy that spreads prosperity across the country. 

“Successive Conservative governments have weakened Britain’s foundations and robbed too many people of the opportunity to achieve their potential. Going back to business as usual is not an option for our city on the road to recovery from this pandemic.”

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City MP hosts event with Shadow Minister to tackle ‘mental health crisis’ triggered by the pandemic

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan will host a mental health discussion event with Labour’s Shadow Minister for mental health Rosena Allin-Khan MP this week.

The online event, which is open to all, will discuss the impact of the pandemic on mental health and the ongoing need for mental health conditions to be treated on a par with physical health.

The Centre for Mental Health in England has predicted that 10 million people – almost a fifth of the population – will need mental health support as a direct consequence of Covid-19, with 1.5 million of those expected to be under-18s.

Portsmouth City Council estimates that almost 53,000 people experience a mental problem each year, with half of all adult mental health problems present by the time the person is 14 years old.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“With millions of us staying at home, isolated from friends and family, Coronavirus has been a mental health crisis too.

“We know that patients, carers and staff have been heavily affected, with the impact being particularly acute among young people.

“As an A&E Doctor herself, Rosena knows only too well the challenges we face on the frontline. She will be setting out Labour’s vision on mental health and how we can improve care following the pandemic.”

The online event with Shadow Minister for Mental Health Rosena Allin-Khan will take place on Thursday 25 February 2021, 7-8pm. Full details and registration can be found at: https://events.labour.org.uk/event/326967