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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.”