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Shadow Schools Minister: Government fails to deliver for Portsmouth’s children

Stephen Morgan MP has warned that the government is failing to deliver for children in Portsmouth with ‘no plan, no ambition and no vision’ for their learning or futures, as the government’s proposed Schools Bill ‘falls short’.

The government’s proposed Schools Bill, announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech did not include a plan to drive-up standards in the classroom or turn around opportunities for over 200,000 children who live in areas with no good or outstanding schools.

In his statement on the Queen’s Speech Boris Johnson failed to mention children, suggesting his government’s priorities lie elsewhere.

Following publication of their strategy for schools, the government last month admitted that most schools already hit their new target for the length of the school day, while the Prime Minister has previously admitted that the evidence for lengthening the school day was “not as good as it could have been”.

In September, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour’s determination to drive-up standards for all schools with the most ambitious school improvement programme for a generation. Labour’s plan would include getting 6,500 new teachers into our schools, alongside embedding careers advice, work experience and digital skills in every child’s learning so young people leave education ready for work and ready for life, equipped with the skills they need for the future.

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

“Once again we have a smoke and mirrors announcement from a Conservative government that has simply run out of ideas. 

“Their proposed Schools Bill is looking backwards showing no plan, no ambition and no vision for Portsmouth’s and the country’s children.

“Labour is focused on making a difference for children in the classroom and throughout their lives. We would be delivering the trained staff our schools need because the success of teachers enables the success of our children.”

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary said:

“After two years of unprecedented chaos and disruption to children’s education, the Conservatives are obsessing over structures instead of improving children’s experience in the classroom.

“Their Bill contains no plan to support children’s pandemic recovery. No plan to improve teaching and tackle the exodus of school staff from our classrooms. No plan to ensure more young people gain essential qualifications. No plan to give children the broad education that young people, parents and employers want to see. No plan, no ambition, no vision for our children.

“Labour has been listening to parents, pupils and school staff. We would be delivering our ambitious Children’s Recovery Plan and getting on with delivering plans for 6,500 new teachers filling skills gaps across the profession alongside embedding careers advice, work experience and digital skills for every child so they get a brilliant education which equips them with the skills they need for work and for life.”

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Guildhall Trust receives £499,000 in Arts Council funding – City MP responds

Responding to news that the Guildhall Trust has been awarded £499,000 from the Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It’s fantastic to learn the Guildhall Trust has been given the support it needs to grow the vital, creative opportunities it offers to so many young people across our city.

“From my recent conversations with Guildhall Trust, I know how important this funding will be to increase access to creative spaces and help to inspire our communities.

“As Portsmouth begins its recovery, it’s critical the next generation has access to creative spaces like this to give them the platform to truly thrive. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this investment locally and will be feeding back its importance to the Arts Council in the coming weeks.”

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Portsmouth MP praises ‘resilient’ new local business for giving back to the community

Stephen Morgan MP has praised a new business launched during the middle of the pandemic for its resilience and for providing targeted services to community members.

Launched in May 2020, Danielle Hollinshead and her husband Ian started IDeal Fitness & Nutrition LTD, which has continued to grow from strength to strength.

During lockdown, the new business offered online nutrition coaching and socially distanced 121 kickboxing coaching, but now has ambitions to grow the start-up even further with restrictions now lifted.

The business recently launched its health and wellness group at Milton Village Hall, to teach the local community about the importance of healthy living and the benefits of exercise whether their goal is to lose, gain or maintain their current weight. Classes are every Friday afternoon, 12-1pm.

During school holidays, the group will be extended to accommodate more children who can come along for some family fun and learn about family nutrition. Classes are free to all under 16’s who attend with a parent or guardian.

The local enterprise also launched last week a nutrition and wellness cooking course, designed for adults with learning difficulties.

Following a visit to see one of the classes first-hand at Milton Village Hall, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The resilience Danielle and Ian have shown to start a business in the middle of the pandemic is nothing short of remarkable. It’s fantastic to see the entrepreneurial spirit of our city is still alive and kicking after the challenges of the last two years.

“I’m also really pleased to hear how the team plan to provide specific classes to those with learning difficulties and are already helping young people to learn about healthy living, so it was really useful to see that first-hand this afternoon.

“I look forward to seeing how the local business continues to grow from strength to strength and provide such important services to our community.”

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Heating costs soar as City MP calls for ‘urgent action’ to boost affordable swimming pool access

Stephen Morgan MP has called for ‘urgent action’ to be taken to boost affordable local access to swimming pools, after accusing decision-makers of ‘sitting on their hands’ as the cost of heating pools continues to rise.

Swim England last week warned that heating bill increases of up to 150% will lead to the widespread closures of UK swimming pools unless something is done.

It comes after the repurposing and closure of the Pyramids Centre and closure of Eastney swimming pool in Portsmouth alone.

The city has now only has just a few options that are available to the public, as Swim England has also forecasted a wider 40% reduction in the number of available swimming facilities in the country by the end of the decade.

It has also said this would leave 73% of local authorities short of the equivalent of at least one swimming pool.

In addition to questioning Ministers in parliament on this issue, the Portsmouth MP has met with Swim England to discuss the provision level of local swimming facilities, wider national challenges and how the cost of living crisis is impacting affordable access to swimming facilities in Portsmouth and across the country.

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

“Decisions to reduce access to affordable swimming across the country and in Portsmouth have real consequences for our city’s communities.

“Instead of sitting on its hands, Government should be doing more to encourage swimming for pupils and people of all ages, and the council should be getting on with delivering this locally.

“Warnings from Swim England should be focusing minds, not continuing to leave our community as an afterthought.

“It was useful to meet with the organisation in Westminster last week to discuss what needs be done here in Portsmouth and across the country, and how I can continue to lobby others for investment in local facilities.

“I will continue to push the council and Government to get serious about this growing problem.”

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Portsmouth MP opens ‘Tops Day Nursery’ in Southsea following national award

Stephen Morgan MP officially opened Tops Day Nursery in Southsea today, following a tour of the facilities on Bruce Road – an award-winning childcare provider for Portsmouth.

During the event, the Portsmouth MP met with staff and children attending the nursery, following a meeting with Cheryl Hadland, founder and Managing Director of Tops Day Nurseries and the Nursery Manager, to discuss future plans and challenges.

Tops Day Nurseries has 8 nurseries across Hampshire, including Tops Portsmouth based onsite at Queens Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and now Tops Southsea in Bruce Road.

Employing 750 people, Tops Day Nurseries was set up in 1990 and operates 32 nurseries across the South Coast, educating and caring for children in their early years.

It comes following news this week that Tops Day Nurseries has been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. The award was given for Tops Day Nurseries driving ‘genuine and inspiring’ change to its sector.

Cheryl Hadland provides thought leadership and challenges industry norms, such as tackling the huge range of disposable items and one-use plastics, including nappies, gloves and glitter normally used in the sector.

Officially opening the nursery with children and staff, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

I’m delighted to be able open Tops Day Nursery Southsea today, adding further support to parents in our city through providing crucial childcare services.   

“Cheryl and her team have done a fantastic job here, and it was really useful to speak to them about plans for the future, issues they face and of course congratulate them on their latest award!”

“With the cost-of-living crisis, many nurseries and childcare providers are facing real financial challenges and parents with small children feeling the pinch in their pockets. That’s why I will continue to speak up for local families and the early years sector in Parliament to ensure every child in Portsmouth is able to access a high-quality early education.”

Speaking after the official opening event, Cheryl Hadland said:

“I am delighted Stephen Morgan, MP has been to re-open and tour our Tops Day Nursery in Bruce Road, Southsea, and was also able to celebrate our Queens Award for sustainability with us.

“Collaboration is an important part of sustainability so it was lovely to have local writer Neal Leyton read his Planet full of Plastic, local music makers Boogie Mites teach us their new sustainability song, and our LGBTQ+ leader Simon King and manager at Tops QA come to celebrate with us as well.

“Sadly, funding for 3-4 year olds from the government has not kept up with costs at Tops Southsea, and this reduces our ability to pay our staff what they deserve and burdens parents with having to pay more towards their children’s education and care than any other parents in Europe. We also want a healthier environment and future for our children and grandchildren, with fewer diesel and petrol fumes, more attention to reducing waste and recycling and to reducing carbon footprints. 

“Therefore, I look forward to working with our local MP to campaign for a more sustainable future for childcare providers, parents, and children.”

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City MP launches ‘Hope in Portsmouth’ project marking women’s suffrage

Stephen Morgan MP is set to welcome a life-sized Lego suffragette named ‘Hope’ to Portsmouth as part of a programme of community events and projects marking women’s suffrage.

A 32,327 LEGO brick piece figure is visiting the city in the lead up to 2028 to celebrate 100 years since the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, which gave equal voting rights to all women and men.

From next week until 4 May the statue will be proudly displayed at the Portsmouth MP’s constituency office on Albert Road, with the overall goal of telling the story of inequalities and women’s suffrage and raising awareness of the history of the suffragettes.

The city MP is organising a series of events and projects to mark Hope’s visit to Portsmouth, which includes inviting schools, community groups and veterans to visit Hope to share their ambitions for the future of women’s suffrage.

Alongside the life-sized statue made of Lego, Mr Morgan’s office is also hosting artwork from University of Portsmouth design students on the theme of women in democracy as well as historic political banners and books.

A number of events are taking place for members of the public to book in to attend, as well as viewings with specific community groups in the city.

Any resident is able to attend any of the free events, but booking is essential:

  • Drop-in event on Saturday 23 April between 12pm – 1pm at 72 Albert Road, PO5 2SL – constituents should book for this event at here
  • STEM Event with Hope’ on Saturday 23 April from 1.30pm – 2:30pm at 72 Albert Road, PO5 2SL – constituents should book for this event at here

Alongside this, the city MP is running a competition for city schools to design a modern-day suffragette uniform. Portsmouth South schools have until Friday 6 May to submit their entries with all schools in the constituency encouraged to participate following a letter to local headteachers.

For full details, visit the Hope Visit events page here.

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

“It is an absolute pleasure welcome Hope to Portsmouth. The work that has gone into piecing Hope together – all 32,327 LEGO brick pieces – is an incredible effort.

“I am looking forward to introducing Hope to our community and watching her inspire stories and conversations about women’s suffrage, gender inequalities and democracy.

“I warmly encourage residents and community groups to get involved and for local schools to take part in the design competition”.

Join the conversation on social media from 14 April using the hashtag #StandwithHope.

In 2018 to mark a centenary of voting rights for women, Mr Morgan led a project to plant 100 trees across the city with community and youth groups.

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Hope in Portsmouth – get involved

Stephen Morgan MP is welcoming a 32,000 LEGO brick suffragette ‘Hope’ to Portsmouth.

Hope is visiting Portsmouth in the lead up to 2028, to celebrate the 1928 Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act which gave equal voting rights to all women and men.

Stephen is asking the community to help mark Hope’s visit by visiting her at his constituency office or designing a suffragette uniform for the modern-day.

How to get involved:

Design a modern-day Suffragette uniform

Designs can be submitted by any Portsmouth South school or school-aged child in any size or medium you choose, please be as creative as you like!

Closing date: Friday 6 May

Entries to be submitted to 72 Albert Road, PO5 2SL

Include the name, address, age and phone number on the back of each entry

Winning design will be to be professionally printed and displayed in constituency office

Hope in Portsmouth – Drop-in 

A free event open to everyone – Come and meet Hope and take a selfie! Artwork by University of Portsmouth students and historic political banners and books also on display. Leave your memories or thoughts for the future for women in democracy in our guest book.

Venue: Constituency Office, 72 Albert Road, PO5 2SL

Date: Saturday 23 April 12pm until 1pm

Book here. 

Hope in Portsmouth – STEM Event with ‘Hope’

A Lego themed STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) fun event for children and families hosted by a local science teacher.

Venue: Constituency Office, 72 Albert Road, PO5 2SL

Date: Saturday 23 April 1.30pm-2.30pm

Book here.

Attending an event or passing and taking a photo? Please use #hopeinportsmouth and #standwithhope hashtags.

Other events are taking place in involving Portsmouth’s vibrant voluntary and community groups.

 

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School energy bills doubled last year as cost-of-living crisis threatens learning

Children’s learning and opportunities are being put at risk, Labour has warned, as the Conservatives’ failure to get a grip on rising prices puts the squeeze on school budgets.

School energy bills doubled in the last year, according to data compiled by the House of Commons Library, with further price rises expected as fixed term contracts come to an end.

The new figures suggest that non-domestic gas and electricity prices almost doubled in 2021, mainly driven by the rise in the cost of wholesale gas prices.

Headteachers last year warned they were being forced to strip back additional support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, staff numbers and activities such as breakfast and afterschool clubs.

Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan MP has urged Ministers to work with schools to ensure children do not lose out on further opportunities due to cost pressures.

Unlike domestic customers, schools are not subject to the energy price cap, meaning there is no limit on the price rises they could face as wholesale prices increase.

An investigation by SchoolsWeek recently found that schools in the North East could expect their bills to rise by to one and a half times their current level as prices soar.

Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister and Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Children have already faced huge disruption due to the government’s chaotic handling of the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis, made worse by Downing Street, is further squeezing school budgets.

“Ministers must get a grip and engage with schools to ensure children do not lose out on further opportunities.

“Labour is calling on the government to prioritise children’s learning and development post-pandemic, with breakfast and afterschool clubs, tutoring and mental health support. The Education Secretary must match this ambition with a proper plan to secure children’s futures.”

 

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Soaring childcare costs are limiting parents’ ability to work, as Labour demands Sunak secure families’ finances

Labour is warning the cost of childcare is so high that that parents are having to cut down the hours they work. New Labour analysis shows the average family now spends nearly £1,500 more on a nursery place than five years ago.

Forty per cent of parents responding to a recent survey by Pregnant then Screwed said that they have to work fewer hours due to childcare costs, which rises to more than half of parents in households with incomes of below £50,000.

For primary school children, the cost of afterschool clubs having risen nearly 20 per cent over five years. With average parents spending more on after school clubs than on their weekly food shop.

A decade of Conservative governments has forced the closure of 1,300 children’s centres cutting off support for families, while the government has admitted to knowingly underfunding childcare providers which is pushing up costs for parents.

Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would mean children could go to breakfast clubs and after school activities for free, boosting children’s social development and wellbeing post-pandemic, and support working parents.

The Chancellor’s spring statement failed to give families the security they need as prices spiral and the Conservatives’ cost of living crisis is hitting household budgets.

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

“I know from talking with Portsmouth parents how concerned they are at the cost of childcare, especially at a time of prices and bills going through the roof and the highest tax burden in 70 years.

“In the recent Spring Statement the Chancellor failed to give our city’s families the security they need. That’s why I want Government to halt the national insurance rise and use a one off windfall tax on oil and gas companies to cut household’s bills by up to £600 and put families first.”

“Labour would also deliver a children’s recovery plan which would more than triple pupil premium investment in children on free school meals in early years settings and deliver free breakfast and afterschool clubs”.

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“The Conservatives are making high quality childcare increasingly unavailable and unaffordable. Parents are having to work fewer hours or leave jobs because they cannot find or afford it, once again failing children and families.

“Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would invest in early years places for children on free school meals and boost access to before and after school clubs, as families fight rising prices”.

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Schools White Paper fails to deliver for children in Portsmouth, says City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has warned that the government’s Schools White Paper shows no plan, no vision and no ambition for children’s education in Portsmouth as 8 in 10 schools are told to carry on as normal.

Labour is calling on the government to focus on children’s experience in the classroom, not bureaucratic tinkering with school structures.

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.

The government has admitted that most schools are already hitting their new target for the length of the school day, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said the evidence for lengthening the school day was “not as good as it could have been”.

In September, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour’s determination to drive-up standards for all school with the most ambitious school improvement programme for a generation. Labour’s plan would include getting 6,500 new teachers into our schools, alongside embedding careers advice, work experience and digital skills in every child’s learning so young people leave education ready for work and ready for life, equipped with the skills they need for the future.

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

“Once again we have a smoke and mirrors announcement from a Conservative government that has simply run out of ideas. 

“This White Paper is looking backwards showing no plan, no vision and no ambition for children in Portsmouth.

“Children have endured two years of chaos and disruption to their learning and pre-pandemic thousands were leaving school without the skills and qualifications they need.

“But the government isn’t tackling any of this. They’re obsessing over structures not driving up standards.

“Labour is focused on making a difference to children in the classroom. We would be delivering the trained staff our schools need because the success of teachers enables the success of our children.”

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary said:

 “Parents will be surprised to hear that a focus on helping every child develop good reading, writing and maths skills is a new discovery for the Education Secretary. This isn’t an add on that any parent should have to ask for, it’s the fundamentals of a good school system.

“Today’s ‘pledge’ acknowledges that 12 years of Conservative governments have failed to get the basics right.

“Labour has been listening to parents, pupils and school staff. We would be delivering our ambitious Children’s Recovery Plan and getting on with delivering plans for 6,500 new teachers filling skills gaps across the profession alongside embedding careers advice, work experience and digital skills for every child so they get a brilliant education which equips them with the skills they need for work and for life.”