Securing funding for Cornwall’s schools

Last week I welcomed two government announcements confirming funding to create extra school places in Cornwall.

Firstly, councils will receive an extra £50million to create around 740 additional school places and state-of-the-art facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), giving families more choice and helping to meet increasing demand.  Cornwall will be given more than £2.3million in the three years from 2018 to 2021, after an uplift of £444,957 to its initial allocation of just over £1.9million.

Secondly, councils will receive £680million in basic need funding to create 40,000 more good school places in primary and secondary schools by September 2021.  Cornwall will be given more than £27million in the three years from 2018 to 2021, at an average of over £9million a year. That compares with an average of just over £5.5million a year in the seven years from 2011 to 2018.

This funding will have a positive impact so that every child in Cornwall – regardless of their needs, background or circumstances – has access to a good school place to help them get the best possible start in life and achieve their full potential, whatever challenges they may face.

The funding boost comes as new analysis shows 91% of school places created in 2016/17 were in schools rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. Improving education attainment has contributed to the fact that youth unemployment has fallen, on average, by over 140 young people every day since 2010.

I am working hard in Parliament making the case for more investment into the schools and post 16 education budgets because I appreciate that the budgets for our local schools are not growing at the same pace as the increased costs in delivering the high quality education our local young people experience.  Thanks to the hard work of our school leaders and teachers more children and young people are receiving a good or outstanding education compared to 2010.

Cornwall Council has developed a Local Plan that is about building more homes and flats to buy and rent that local people can genuinely afford and developing essential local infrastructure too. This new extra funding will ensure that there are more good school places for our growing community.

For some time I have been encouraging Cornwall Council to work with local people to shape and build local sustainable communities.

I am pleased that Cornwall Council, Truro City Council, Truro Chamber of Commerce, Truro BID and Kenwyn Parish Council are working together and have appointed Lavigne Lonsdale and PBWC to help generate ideas to support “a thriving Truro” both now and in the longer term. This work builds on the success of the Truro & Kenwyn Neighbourhood Plan and considers all aspects of life in and around Truro from our natural environment to education, health and wellbeing, employment, food and energy, homes and enterprise. Do have your say on the future of this great place and visit: https://lovetruro.net before the consultation closes at the end of June.

First published in the West Briton 14/06/18

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Rising Living Standards and Wellbeing

How does a country measure its success? The most reported measure of success is economic with gross domestic product (GDP) probably most often quoted. Of course ensuring people have the opportunity to reach their potential in their chosen occupation is important and this week’s good news of record levels of people from all backgrounds and ages in employment and growing wages is welcome. More of our children and young people are receiving a good education compared to 2010 and average life expectancy continues to rise. All these measure progress.

There is a growing recognition that how we are doing as a nation is at least as much about people’s well-being as it is about the country’s economic health.

In November 2010, David Cameron established the Measuring National Well-being (MNW) programme. The aim was to monitor and report “how the UK is doing” by producing accepted and trusted measures of the well-being of the nation. Twice a year the independent Office for National Statistics report progress against a set of headline indicators covering areas of our lives including our health, natural environment, personal finances and crime.

The measures include both objective data (unemployment rate) and subjective data (satisfaction with job) to provide a more complete view of the nation’s progress than economic measures can do alone.

The latest update of the Measuring of National Well-being programme published in April provides a broadly positive picture of life in the UK, with most indicators either improving or staying the same over the short-term (one year) and long-term (five years). It shows the strengths and challenges of different age groups in society. These insights can help target services where they are most needed and can have the best impact.

This programme has led to significant positive changes in the development of policy, particularly the promotion of good mental health and a very welcome focus on understanding and treating mental ill health. We changed the law so that mental health is taken as seriously as physical health.

The fastest growing NHS spending is on mental health £11.86 billion last year, with further growth committed.  Spending by local GP NHS Commissioners on children and young people’s mental health services grew by £103 million between 2015/16 and 2016/17, up to £619 million. This is a 20 per cent increase year on year. I am pleased that our new residential children and young people’s mental health service in Bodmin is underway.

Last week, I visited Roseland Community College, an outstanding local school, and listened to children and staff who are participating in HeadStart Kernow. It’s a partnership between Cornwall Council, our local NHS, schools, voluntary sector organisations and the National Lottery. It aims to build resilience and mental wellbeing for children and young people and from what I heard is doing a good job. This vital prevention work matters to children now and in the future as the causes of mental ill health in adults often starts in childhood.

First published in the West Briton 17/05/18

Delivering on my 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

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.

 

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

Education Opportunities

Many local people, especially young people, will be making fresh starts this month; starting school, college, university or an apprenticeship. 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 truly 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. And that means unlocking our children’s potential.

I believe we are building that education system that unlocks the talents of all our 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 – and some places – have been left behind. The schools they went to and are going to weren’t good enough. We can never accept the randomness of a postcode lottery in education if we are to succeed as a country.

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. That’s why we’re pursuing a new gold standard in curriculum and assessment, together with an expectation that the vast majority of young people will study the EBacc subjects – this is an academic core of subjects – that keep options open for young people. And we are steadily strengthening the teaching profession with high-quality qualifications and standards, an increased focus on CPD of teachers supported by a new professional body – the College of Teaching – to bring the profession together.

We want all our children taught in good and outstanding schools. So we have an academies programme that hones in on inadequate and coasting schools – to ensure they improve. And our reforms are working – 1.8 million more children in good and outstanding schools since 2010, 1.8 million more children getting a better start and a better chance to realise their potential. We want schools that work for everyone.

We are reforming education post-16 by lifting the cap on university places. And with the help of top employers we are reforming our technical education – injecting investment, standards and quality – so that young people who are technically gifted have a world-class route to a great career.

In Britain there will always be room for talent. Unlocking talent is how we build all of our futures. And we will build an education system that unlocks that talent in every one of our young people.

This is a bold plan for transforming education in Britain. Everyone needs to play their part. Not just our education sector – our teachers, school leaders, lecturers, schools, colleges and universities. But also our employers, businesses and the government, local and national.

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.

That’s why education is such a crucial part of our industrial strategy.

It’s why education is at the heart of our plan for Britain.

A true meritocracy. Opportunity as the glue that brings the country together. A strong, modern economy facing out to the world. A global Britain that lives up to its values.

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 Wave magazine