Category Archives: Constituency news
This afternoon I have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan to ask her to set out a clear timetable for the involvement of parents at the Park View Educational Trust.
You can read a copy of my letter here.
For ease I have copied the text below.
With all best wishes
28th August 2014
Park View Education Trust
Thank you again for the constructive manner in which you and Lord Nash have approached the sensitive task of rebuilding governance – and parents’ trust – at Park View Education Trust. Please pass on my thanks too to your team of civil servants.
I write however to express profound concern about the lack of any progress since July in securing parental involvement in the Trust’s governance, or governance of Park View and Nansen school.
As you know, Park View and Nansen’s parents are passionate about their children’s schools. They were therefore completely straight-forward about the need for the previous trust members and governors to step down. Their ambitions were set out in the five point plan I presented to Mr Gove at the department in July.
Given the acute need to rebuild trust, it would have been wisest to move during the summer to involve parents and set out a roadmap for parental involvement in Trust and school governance.
Instead, parents and I have had to press repeatedly for meetings to take place, for briefings to be issued and for a roadmap for parental involvement to be organised. As a result, parents’ confidence has been damaged once again, and an opportunity for a fresh start lost.
As I am sure you will agree, this is not good enough. I have three children in Birmingham schools, and I would not accept this situation for my children’s school. If it is not good enough for me, it is not good enough for Park View and Nansen parents.
Can I ask therefore, that before Monday we have a clear timetable for involving parents at Trust and school level?
As you were kind enough to acknowledge in the House, I have worked tirelessly to advocate for our parents – and I am determined to see the job through. I stand ready to meet or talk to you, Lord Nash or your officials at any time to expedite a solution.
I am copying this letter to Lord Nash, Colin Diamond and the trust members at park View Education Trust.
With all good wishes
Brilliant news, the monthly figures from the Office of National Statistics show that unemployment has fallen again in Hodge Hill.
The number of unemployed claimants in the constituency of Birmingham, Hodge Hill in June 2014 was 5,224.
That’s a 155 lower than in May 2014 and a whopping 1296 lower than in June 2013.
Despite this great news we can’t become complacent; I will continue to campaign to see more jobs come to Hodge Hill, particularly for our young people.
All the best
Today Cllr John Cotton and I published Birmingham Labour’s hard-hitting report into the growing scandal of child poverty in the city.
The evidence is set out in the final report of the Birmingham Labour Child Poverty review which has investigated the issue over the last six months – to read the report click here
The review found:
• A huge 20 per cent rise over the last year in children arriving in the city’s A&E departments, having self-harmed
• A 40 per cent rise in child self-harm cases in A&E since 2009/2010.
• Nearly a third of the city’s children – 84,114 – now live in poverty in Birmingham
• Birmingham’s child poverty now costs an estimated £914 million in extra services such as education, healthcare and benefits, as well as, lost tax receipts and lost earnings
The report’s main recommendation has led to plans for a new Child Poverty Commission for the city to coordinate action to support parents.
Liam Byrne said;
‘The scandal of child poverty in our city is a moral crisis and we simply refuse to stand by and do nothing. The child poverty crisis may now have triggered a huge increase in the number of our children so desperate that they try and take their own lives or self-harm.
This report is a wake-up call for Birmingham and for Britain. We may not have a government that cares but we can still take action ourselves.
Our new Child Poverty Commission must now call to action our business leaders, our teachers, NHS and the DWP to act together to make a difference. We cannot pretend this isn’t happening in our community.
We have to declare now that we will act together to end this scandal.’
John Cotton said:
“The fact that a third of Birmingham’s kids are growing up below the poverty line isn’t just a moral outrage, it’s an act of social and economic sabotage.
Continuing to tolerate a situation in which another generation is trapped in poverty, unemployment or low paid, insecure work doesn’t just hold back individuals, it holds back our city as a whole.
We can – and must – do more to fight poverty in all its forms”.
Tim Evans, co-author of the report, said:
“The best policies are made when we listen. As we listened to stories of people struggling, both our understanding and anger grew.
As we listened to committed people in the public and voluntary sector, to people of faith, we realised that harnessing people’s desire to tackle this moral and economic issue, based on real life experience, was the way forward.
So I am delighted to see the establishment of a Child Poverty Commission to co-ordinate this energy and transform the life chances of children in Birmingham.”
To read the report click here.
With all best wishes
See below for the text of my question to Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education, and her subsequent response.
You can see my statement on the the release of the Clarke report earlier today below:
“When I was first alerted to problems at Park View, before anyone had heard of Trojan Horse, I called in Ofsted and made a promise that nothing would be swept under the carpet. We would get to the bottom of any problems and fix them.
Over the last six months, I’ve been appalled by the way some in government decided to use this as a political football, a pawn in their culture wars, and a chance to attack our city’s proud Muslim community. That’s why I’m so glad Michael Gove is no longer Education Secretary. He was determined to play divide and rule, rather than seek to foster a sense of the common good.
The reports of the last few days paint a damming picture of how parents and children were let down. Our parents want the very best education for their kids. But now they fear the reputation of the school will slow them down in life. Pupils have told me directly how TV cameras were poked in their faces on their way to their exams, putting them off their stride. Others have told me how city firms have turned them down for work experience when they found out where they went to school. This is appalling. Our children have been let down by the adults.
Last week, Sir Albert Bore was fulsome in his apology. But Park View has been an academy for nearly two years, answering to the Department for Education; yet the Secretary of State today refused to say sorry. That was shameful.
We have however one breakthrough; last Friday I asked Nicky Morgan to appoint an education commissioner so that we finally have one person to take responsibility for standards in every school, council-run and academy alike.
For a month, I’ve been negotiating with parents and the Department for Education to protect and preserve the school, bring in back up from the best local school leaders in the city, and ensure parents now have a strong voice.
But there is something more we now must do. Adults in government, on governing bodies and in the city have let our children down. Its time to make good the damage. So in September, I will bring together the city’s business and education leaders to back a concerted campaign to transform life chances and opportunities for Park View’s and Nansen’s children.
I’m proud of Park View’s pupils. I’m proud of Nansen’s little ‘uns. Nothing now must stop our total determination and commitment to fight for a brilliant future for them. As a city, its the very least we can do to say sorry.”
Earlier today HS2 Ltd, along with Birmingham City Council, launched the city’s Urban Regeneration Company and announced the location of the HS2 Construction HQ. You can see my statement below:
“HS2 belongs in Birmingham. The arrival of 1,500 permanent jobs is fantastic news, and it provides a welcome boost to the growth of our City.
But this announcement underlines the need for a new deal for East Birmingham where the HS2′s marshalling yard has wiped out the chance to create 3,500 private sector jobs.
So today I’ve written to David Higgins, Chariman of HS2 Ltd, to begin talks on how we maximise the jobs boost for East Birmingham.”
In her first appearance in the chamber as Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan was answering questions from MPs this afternoon.
I pressed her on the issue of the leaked conclusions of Peter Clarke’s report into Birmingham Schools, you can see a read-out of our exchange below.
I will be pressing her on this issue again at her statement tomorrow.
18 July 2014
News from Liam Byrne MP
Statement on today’s reports into Birmingham Schools
‘Today’s report confirms the challenge is not violent extremism, its delivering excellent education.
‘We cannot and will not settle for second best for our children. We must strive for excellence.’
‘I’m glad Sir Albert Bore has apologised to my constituents for let-downs by the Council. The new Education secretary, Nicky Morgan must now do the same. Half the schools where Ian Kershaw found serious problems were academies – and Peter Clarke has revealed a culture of ‘benign neglect’.
In other words, Michael Gove was asleep at the wheel while standards slipped.
‘Crucially, the DfE must now back up Birmingham in a bold plan to boost school standards, with a full time, independent Director of School Standards, a helpline for whistle-blowers and a new scorecard for parents so they can see better what’s going on at their children’s’ school.
Letter from Liam Byrne MP to Nick Morgan MP dated 18 July 2014
Congratulations on your new role.
As you will know, I have been working hard with your department to rebuild a new team and new trust around Park View School, which became an academy in 2012.
Today, Birmingham City Council published the independent Kershaw Review and in today’s Guardian I see your predecessor has leaked a copy of the Clarke review, despite assurances to the Commons that Parliament would see the report first.
I was deeply disturbed to read Peter Clarke’s conclusion that the DfE’s ‘benign neglect’ of its responsibilities towards academies like Park View, contributed to a serious deterioration of standards.
Today, Sir Albert Bore has apologised to the citizens of our city for the council’s role in failing to confront earlier the problems set out in the Kershaw report.
As the Member of Parliament who asked Ofsted to investigate Park View when problems were first reported to me in February, can I ask you to now extend the same apology to my constituents for DfE’s failure to provide adequate oversight of our academies?
Second, will you now commit to a five point action plan to put things right, including;
1. The creation of an independent director of school standards to take responsibility across the school system in Birmingham
2. The creation of an independent hotline for whistle-blowers, parents, teachers and governors, to report problems backed by a team of professionals skilled in investigating such complaints
3. New ways of keeping parents informed about school standards AND the quality of school leadership, governance and financial probity
4. Support for a new annual conference to bring together education leaders from across the school system, colleges, universities, faith groups and business, to discuss education ambitions and priorities
5. Introduce compulsory sex and relationship education in all schools and consider reviewing the guidance for schools on religious education.
The key to safeguarding against extremism is an excellent education.
We are a beautiful and diverse city; but we want to be an integrated city. Together we have failed to head off a threat to that integration in our education system. Birmingham and the DfE must now come together to change this for the years to come.
Today, Birmingham City Council has accepted its responsibilities. Today, I would urge the DfE to do the same, so we can move on, make up the lost ground and ensure world class schools are open and ready for our children in September.
Liam Byrne MP
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Hodge Hill
“Park View parents want excellence and nothing less for their children. That’s what I’ve been determined to deliver through intense negotiations with ministers, officials, Ofsted, city education leaders and parents over the last month.
“It was right for the current governors to step down so we can get cracking with a brilliant new team of outstanding education experts and parents to take the school forward. Park View is a school of outstanding teachers and pupils. I’m determined to ensure that its best days lie ahead.”
“We now need the new education secretary to call an end to Michael Gove’s attempt to divide our community. She needs to get behind the new team and Park View parents and pupils.”
“The first stage is new Trust members to take office so that we can quickly move to get parents’ on the team. I’m delighted that Kamal Hanif, headteacher of School of the Year, Waverley School together with Pat Smart, headteacher of Greet primary school and a National Education Leader, and Yvonne Wilkinson, headteacher of King Edwards VI Five Ways, have agreed to serve on the new trust.
“The second piece of the solution is for Washwood Heath Academy to become the new academy sponsor for Saltley School.
“I always said that we wanted the best in the business to work with parents taking the school forward and that’s exactly what we’ve managed to achieve.
“Parents told me that they wanted a local solution backed up by the best in the business – and that’s exactly what we’ve been able to deliver tonight”
Last Friday and Saturday allowed me to get out and about visiting schools and holding advice surgeries and residents meetings. I thought you might like to see some photos!
Friday included a visit to one of our great primary schools – Guardian Angels
I spoke to the children about the job of an MP and the importance of speaking up and making your voice heard…
… and they told me about their excellent school project on the decline of the bee population, even showing me some of the produce from their school garden and their home-made bee hotel.
Saturday found me at the Shard Library holding one of my regular residents meeting.
… and later inside, listening to residents concerns. It is so important to listen to local concerns whether that be about green waste or national issues like benefit changes. I hold a residents meeting roughly once a month so do keep an eye out and come along to my next one!