Manifesto Pledges

During the recent General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged more funding for all local schools and that Cornwall would continue to receive designated economic development funding. Both are being delivered.

Last week the proposed new schools funding figures were announced. Overall schools in my constituency will receive an additional £1.9 million by 2019/2020 and that is a 3.8% increase. The individual figures for each school will be available on my website.

It is vitally important to me that our schools receive their fair share of funding. For sometime I have campaigned for a transparent national formula for per pupil funding for our schools based on the needs of the children it serves. Clearly setting out for the first time the sums that we are directing to different aspects of the formula, to the basic amount per pupil that every school receives, or to the children with additional needs, allows for properly informed debate on this vital topic, something that the existing opaque system held back.

In addition to per pupil funding, schools receive a fixed sum and can access funding for building improvements and expansion. Schools also receive the Pupil Premium and funding for children with Special Education Needs. The final decision about what each school receives depends on Cornwall Council, but if they deliver the funds that they have been allocated for per pupil spending to each school, all schools will receive increased funding.

As far as the EU funding is concerned, it is good to see many local organisations benefitting from the current round of funding that will run its course until 2020. Post Brexit, the need for dedicated funds for economic development in Cornwall has been agreed by the Treasury. The details of the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be consulted upon.

First published in the West Briton 20/09/17

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Mental Health Awareness

On Sunday, I joined World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s imperative that we all understand the importance of promoting good mental health. I have had the privilege of helping a number of local organisations secure funding for new and improved mental health services, many take advantage of our splendid natural maritime environment to promote good mental health.

As a member of the Conservative Environment Network I joined colleagues last week in launching our most recent report and a copy is on my website.

The report, which has been sent to Cabinet ministers, includes an essay from my colleague Rebecca Pow MP who is encouraging gardening to be adopted as a policy by a range of government departments including health, justice, defence, local government and education.

Gardening can help to cut childhood obesity, improve public spaces, provide purpose for prisoners in jails and help people deal with mental stress.

Gardens in Britain cover an area the size of Exmoor, Dartmoor, the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads National Parks combined.

The garden economy makes a significant contribution to the nations’ coffers, with £7.8billion being spent on this sector by tourists every year.

That figure does not include the way our parks and gardens are valuable habitats for wildlife and nature, capturing and storing carbon helping to combat climate change and reducing flooding.

Providing people with the opportunity to green their communities can be a way of tackling unemployment, lack of skills, loneliness and improve wellbeing.

There are many great, local projects from growing food in schools to Glen Carne enabling gardening for formerly homeless men and those suffering with Dementia in St Agnes to Incredible Edible Penryn at St Gluvius Church Hall. You don’t have to own a garden or know anything about gardening to benefit from these great community projects.

First published in the West Briton 13/09/17

Back to School

 

 

 

Preparing for the new session of Parliament this week reminded me of the times I spent getting my children ready for a new year at school. While they are grown up now, I recall the mixture of feelings that I share with parents, grandparents and carers as they see their children grow in independence at each stage of their learning.

So for all those children and young people starting school this week or taking the next step in your education, I wish you the very best of luck. Your families too.

Thanks to the hard work of local teachers, governors and the wider community that supports our schools and colleges, more young people here are receiving an education that is considered by tough, independent regulators, to be “good” or “outstanding” than in 2010. This is also due to the reforms to education that have given school leaders and the communities they serve more control as well as a determined focus on learning and teaching standards.

Regular readers will know that I have long championed change in the way in which funding is allocated to schools and colleges. I am as determined now as I have ever been to ensure that our schools receive at least their fair share of funding and that funding is based on the needs of the children. I am pleased that the Government has pledged real terms increases to the per pupil funding that local schools receive.

It’s not just young people who will be starting something new this month. More local employers and people of all ages are participating in a wide range of good quality apprenticeships. Earning while learning, apprentices aged 25 and over, and not in the first year of their apprenticeship, earn at least the National Living Wage, most receive more.

 

Helping the Rural Economy

In addition to my regular advice surgeries, one evening next week, I am also holding a Farmers Surgery, so please do get in touch if you would like to join me.

One of the things we will be discussing is the recently announced £200 million grant funding for rural businesses that will provide new support to expand and improve farm infrastructure such as buildings, machinery and access to broadband.

The current Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is expected to generate 6,750 new jobs. Already more than 1,400 projects have been agreed which are expected to create over 2,300 jobs.

I want to see this funding enabling high quality jobs in rural communities across the Duchy.

This round of funding will include: £30 million to improve rural broadband – the grants available will encourage growth by helping provide broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps or faster where this is not available or planned. It will supplement existing Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport investment in rural broadband. £45 million to help rural businesses grow and invest in new equipment – rural businesses, including those engaged in tourism and food production, can apply for funding to invest in their company, helping them to expand, diversify, and invest in new technology. £120 million for projects that improve farm productivity – this money will help farmers, foresters and landowners manage their land more effectively. Funding will be available for a wide range of purposes, including woodland management equipment, creating on-farm reservoirs and using water more efficiently. A further £6.6 million will be available for animal health and welfare projects.

This funding is part of planned investment of at least £3 billion into our rural economies by 2020 under RDPE. All projects agreed before we leave the EU will be guaranteed for their lifetime.

Delivering a Fairer Society

Delivering a fairer society surely must start with education – making sure that our children and young people can do their very best and reach their potential, wherever they’re growing up. That’s the means by which we build a better country.

I believe opportunity is about how we translate hope into something real – something concrete. So for me creating opportunity for people is essential. Our strong economy is vital, because it’s the opportunity engine of our country. But we now need to make it a country where everyone has an equal shot at taking advantage of those opportunities being created. This is a government that wants more opportunity for more people – and more equality of opportunity.

I believe we are building that education system that unlocks the talents of people here. We’ve got the right ingredients: expert teachers, determined to unlock every young person’s potential. A society that believes in fairness and businesses that now more than ever understand how education and skills drive growth. We can unleash the wealth of latent talent that we have – and become a modern, confident and fairer economy. A country that works for everyone.

Our country has been on a long journey on education – not just on improving the quality of our schools, but on giving parents real choice where before there was none. When I was growing up here there was no real choice at all. You got what you were given. I went to my local comprehensive school in Falmouth because nearly everyone did. And in this system some people got a good education. I was lucky – I had a great form teacher Mr Morris, who encouraged me and inspired me. People never forget great teachers, because the impact they have on our lives goes beyond that of other people that we will go on to meet. But some people were left behind. We can never accept the randomness of a postcode lottery in education.

Thanks to the leadership of local head teachers, the Academy programme, started under the last Labour government and accelerated since 2010, as well as the hard work of local teachers, more local children and young people are now in ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools.

That’s why we will keep pursuing our ambitious reforms. On what children are taught, on making sure they are taught well, and on how schools provide them with the knowledge and skills they need in modern Britain. We want schools that work for everyone.

This is a bold plan for transforming education in Britain. Everyone needs to play their part. This is not an easy mission. But the potential gains are huge – for young people and for Britain. And if we unlocked the talent of every young person, it would have a huge impact on their wellbeing and the economy.

Because, in spite of their circumstances, everyone has a talent. And when we recognise the potential of every person, we recognise the potential of our country.

First published in the Falmouth Packet 23/08/17

Exam Results

It’s good to see so many local young people doing so well in a wide range of exams. Much appreciation must go to their teachers, family members and carers who supported them through their time at school and college, enabling them to participate in a wide range of high quality academic and vocational learning.

Young people who are unsure what to do next can contact the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900, via web chat, email or by searching online for the National Careers Service. The service offers free and impartial advice and access to a range of online tools, including skills tests, course search, job search advice and personalised help from careers advisers.

A good education is a key building block in enabling people to unlock their potential and support their wellbeing. It also provides choices for young people considering their options after their formal education ends.

Helping young people think about their options requires very skilled and experienced navigators.

So I am delighted that part of the devolution deal that Cornwall Council has with the government is improving local careers advice.

“The Cornwall Careers Offer” that will be launched later this month at the Eden Project is a strategic plan that aims to increase the understanding of Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance across both secondary education and businesses in Cornwall to enhance the skills and career prospects of local young people and support business growth.

“The Cornwall Careers Offer” draws on best practise across the country and includes the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Enterprise Adviser Network that brings together senior business volunteers working directly with school career leads to inspire young people about the world of work.

First published in the West Briton 23/08/17

CCTV in Slaughterhouses

I welcome the hundreds of emails, letters and calls I receive from constituents every week on a wide range of issues. By far and away the most popular topic is animal welfare. Based on my experience as your local MP, there is no doubt that we are a nation of animal lovers.

I have corresponded with many constituents about the use of CCTV in English slaughterhouses. So I was delighted last week to welcome new plans to make CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England. The proposals detailed in the six week consultation will make it necessary for slaughterhouses to record all areas where live animals are present.

Authorised officers such as official veterinary surgeons would have unrestricted access to footage, reassuring consumers that high welfare standards are being effectively enforced. If breaches are found, a slaughterhouse can be given a welfare enforcement notice, have its licence suspended or revoked, or be referred for a criminal investigation.

The Food Standards Agency supports the introduction of mandatory CCTV as a tool to improve both the effectiveness and the efficiency of their oversight and enforcement activity. I expect the Government’s proposals to be supported by a wide range of organisations and the British Veterinary Association. These proposals should increase public confidence in the welfare standards of Great British food and I would expect the farming and food industry to support them.

The Government is also consulting on plans to raise welfare standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernising statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technology and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat.

These proposals fulfil our manifesto commitment and demonstrate this Government’s strong commitment to animal welfare.