Category Archives: Constituency news
Just a quick update to say I have been briefed by the West Midlands Police this morning on the arrests at Adderley School. At this stage, its important to note two things:
(1) The arrests relate to events specific to Adderley school and
(2) they are arrests – no-one has yet been charged for anything and the full investigation has to run its course. So I hope we’ll all give the police the space to their job – and not engage in a trial by media.
I’ll post more news when I can
I’ve received exciting news about an upcoming jobs fair – Birmingham’s biggest ever – on 6 – 9 May at Millennium Point.
See below for more details;
All the best
Birmingham City University is working with Birmingham City Council, Millennium Point, Birmingham Metropolitan College and partners to run Birmingham’s Biggest ever Jobs Fair, FREE to all from 6-9 May at Millennium Point.
We still have spaces available and employers will be provided with a free table and chairs, all you need to do is have live jobs available for young people on offer.
So far a range of big brands have signed up – Jaguar Land Rover, Amey, AGA Rangemaster, Aldi, National Express, MG, Hilton Metropole, Tesco, John Lewis, NHS, Thomas Vale, UPS, Wesleyan, amongst many others.
You can take part by registering here http://birmingham-made-me.org/youth-employment-submissions/
Alternatively you can email email@example.com
I spoke to the BBC Radio 4′s World at One today on the developments regarding Birmingham Schools.
You can read the transcript of my interview here below:
LIAM BYRNE – Birmingham Schools
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Speakers: Liam Byrne
ES: What is your reaction to this appointment?
LB: On the one hand, I’m frustrated, because frankly, Michael Gove has dithered for weeks over this question and today he’s rejected the advice of all ten of the city’s MPs. We’re a cross-party group; we wrote to Mr Gove at the beginning of last week to say ‘look, what’s needed is a process that allows us to get the full picture of what’s been going on, and to do that, we need a process that maximises people’s confidence. Now, we heard nothing back for a week, and then we find out this morning that Mr Gove is acting unilaterally, without even his colleagues in the Department for Local Government or the Home Office – he’s acting on his own – and he’s putting a former police officer in charge of the job, and I think Sir Albert is absolutely right. Sir Albert has proposed a very mature, steady, calming way forward, and now, I’m afraid, Mr Clarke has got an awful lot of work to do to build the confidence that is critical if we’re to get a full picture in place.
ES: You yourself have been complaining that this whole process has taken too long and needs to be wrapped up, at least this is decisive action isn’t it?
LB: So after about two months of this dragging on, Mr Gove is now proposing a process that is going to take another four months, and instead of hitting the ground running, he’s actually made the process, I think, harder by imposing someone who is going to have to spend, I’m afraid, sometime confidence building. Now, why is that confidence crucial? That confidence is crucial because we need people to come forward with lots and lots of different sides of the story, that’s the only way we’re going to build a full picture.
ES: But isn’t there a counter argument that says that precisely because of the complexity of the story and the way that people have got so involved in it you actually need somebody from outside who can come in with clarity of vision and I suppose begin again in a funny sort of way.
LB: That’s completely right, and that’s what Birmingham City Council announced yesterday, they announced a former head teacher, who’s a deeply experienced educationalist, to come and lead an advisor-led process that’s got support from lots of people, including the West Midlands Police, that’s the kind of process that we needed strengthening. There’s one other concern I’ve got, and I need to pursue Michael Gove on this later. It’s now very clear that a free-for-all education system with hundreds of academies and free schools answering directly to Michael Gove needs to be part of the consideration of any kind of inquiry. I’m really worried that there’s been a lack of oversight because there are some community schools, some academies involved, and that’s why I think the full picture has taken so long to emerge, and that has got to be front and centre of Mr Clarke’s review.
The Department for Education have now announced there next steps with regards to Birmingham schools. You can read the Department’s press release and statement below as well my statement in response and the statement released by Chief Constable Sims of West Midlands Police.
Department for Education Press Release – 15 April 2014:
Government appoints Commissioner to investigate Birmingham schools
The Department for Education today, 15 April, appointed Peter Clarke to review evidence in relation to serious allegations that schools in Birmingham are being targeted by individuals wishing to push an Islamist agenda.
In his role as Education Commissioner, Peter Clarke will be accountable to the Secretary of State for Education. He will investigate the allegations to understand fully what has happened in the schools of concern and work closely with Birmingham City Council to analyse evidence of extremist infiltration in both academies and council-run schools. He will report back to the department this summer.
Mr Clarke’s appointment means allegations which have been the subject of intense speculation can be examined in a professional and dispassionate manner, based on established facts. He has substantial and much-respected experience in leading investigations at a high level.
Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove said:
“I am extremely concerned by the allegations made in connection to a number of schools in Birmingham.
“I have already asked Ofsted to inspect a number of schools of concern and these investigations are ongoing. But wider, more comprehensive action is needed. These allegations need either to be substantiated and firm action taken, or to be shown to be baseless. We cannot allow uncertainty for parents or pupils to persist.
“That is why I am appointing a Commissioner to oversee this work. Peter Clarke brings a wealth of relevant skills and experience, and is very well placed to lead a fair and thorough assessment of the evidence, and report back to me. We expect he will work closely with Birmingham City Council.
“No pupils should be exposed to extremist views or radicalisation while at school. I have tasked Peter Clarke with getting to the bottom of these allegations, so schools in Birmingham can continue the excellent progress that so many have been making.”
The Department for Education has maintained close contact with a number of parties since the allegations were first received, including the police and Birmingham City Council.
All schools are subject to a tough inspection regime and the government has been clear that it will not hesitate to take firm and swift action if pupils are being let down or placed at risk.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Commissioner’s remit will cover both maintained schools and academies (including free schools, university technical colleges and Studio Schools). He will be supported by a small team of Department for Education officials, and will be able to seek expert opinion and advice as necessary, including from Ofsted. He is likely to be in place initially for three to four months before reporting back to the Secretary of State for Education.
2. This appointment, which is made under statutory powers, is separate to the Department for Education’s intervention in Birmingham’s children’s services. The department has already indicated its intention to appoint a statutory Commissioner to oversee these services, which successive Ofsted inspections have found to be inadequate.
3. Peter Clarke was an officer in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for 31 years and has held a number of executive and non-executive positions in the public and private sectors, including as a non-executive board member for the Serious Organised Crime Agency from 2009-2013. He rose to the rank of Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the MPS, heading up the Counter Terrorism Command. He received the OBE in 2006 for his work on the 7/7 bombings the previous year. He is currently a board member at the Charity Commission.
4. For more information call Rhiannon Spellman in the press office on 020 7340 8239 or the newsdesk on 020 7783 8300
In response Liam Byrne MP said:
“I’m sorry Mr Gove has ignored the advice of all ten of the city’s MP’s and the West Midlands Police and decided very, very late in the day to go it alone.
“We’ve been demanding action for weeks to get to the truth of what’s gone on in Mr Gove’s academies as well as local schools. Frankly we needed something far faster and a real team-effort between Mr Gove’s department and Birmingham City Council.
‘Some of the schools in question like Park View are delivering simply outstanding results – and nothing must be allowed to get in the way of outstanding teachers delivering outstanding teaching.
‘So I genuinely hope that like us, Mr Gove is pursuing the truth and not an agenda and frankly, this mustn’t be an attempt to duck the lessons Mr Gove needs to learn about toughening up the rules around academies and free schools.
“Despite the Secretary of State’s prevarication we just need to get on with it, end the uncertainty and get in place any changes if changes are needed”.
“There are now more and more questions that demand answers, like what Ofsted and Mr Gove knew and when and whether there are similar allegations being made elsewhere in Britain. Quite simply we need to know whether Mr Gove is able to run such a large school system from his desk in Whitehall.”
Chief Constable Sims of West Midlands Police said:
“This is a desperately unfortunate appointment. Peter Clarke has many qualities but people will inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism.
“I am a strong supporter of open and inclusive education for all children in Birmingham and across the West Midlands and am committed to the process adopted by Birmingham City Council with educational and social inclusion at its heart.”
Byrne urges Birmingham to go it alone as Gove fails to act
Liam Byrne today urged Birmingham City Council to set up its own comprehensive enquiry into local schools, led by an independent advisor, after a cross-party letter from the city’s MPs to Michael Gove demanding action was greeted by a deafening silence.
All of the Birmingham’s ten MPs wrote to Mr Gove on Monday night urging him to establish a joint review with the city council to build a ‘full picture’ of what had happened, and develop proposals for reform. But Mr Gove has failed to even acknowledge the letter.
Liam Byrne said:
“Parents and teachers are demanding a calm, thorough investigation which gets to the bottom of what’s gone on, and crucially draws up proposals for change.
“But Michael Gove has now failed to demonstrate to the people of Birmingham that he can be across the detail on this situation.
“Reports of financial impropriety and allegations of extremists influencing our schools are matters of urgency. But Mr Gove has so far failed to show that he can lead a coordinated investigation across all schools especially all those answering to Whitehall. There’s clearly huge problems with today’s system – and his stewardship of it.”
“We needed rapid action and what we’ve got is a deafening silence.”
Joint cross-party letter from all Birmingham MPs concerning a joint Advisor-led Review of School Governance in Birmingham
I wanted to share with you a copy of the letter that I and the other Birmingham MPs, from all parties, have sent to the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove MP requesting a joint Advisor-led Review of School Governance in Birmingham.
I thought you would appreciate an update on the situation in our schools.
First, the school at the centre of the news, Park View school is a school I know well and it delivers simply outstanding exam results. As Ofsted noted in their last report, pupils say they’re proud to go there. In every single statement I’ve made on the subject, I have underlined this point.
However, some of the allegations which have been made are serious.
Its important that you know the allegations which triggered the latest inspections were made by former and present staff at Park View, along with parents, and were made BEFORE the so-called Trojan Horse letter appeared in the press.
When allegations are made, they need investigating.
We can’t just ignore them.
But the right people to do the investigation are Her Majesty’s Inspectors from Ofsted. And that’s what’s happening. We cannot and will not have anything that interferes with good school management – and the ability of outstanding teachers to deliver outstanding education.
That means good exam results, yes. But it means something more: educating our children as well-rounded citizens of the city and of Britain, comfortable with themselves and well-equipped to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Now, given the media furore and the fact that there have been leaks about the conclusions of the report, I think it is vital that the report is published straight away. The uncertainty needs to end.
Before the report is published, its important to note that allegations are just that: allegations. In my view, no-one should jump the gun and come to conclusions without the evidence. I do not want anyone to treat us like some kind of political football, or use us for their own agenda. We have to keep our focus on what’s best for our children.
Finally, having been in the middle of this right from the word ‘go’, I’m convinced there is something more we need. We need the Department for Education and Birmingham City Council to work together to organise an independent advisor-led review to study what if any lessons need to be drawn from all this. That’s the right way, to build a full and true picture, and crucially identify the steps we need to take to move on, to a first class education system fit for 21st century Birmingham.
News from Liam Byrne MP
Birmingham Steps Up Fight against Child Poverty
Liam Byrne MP and Cllr John Cotton are stepping up Birmingham’s battle against child poverty on Friday by bringing together experts from across Britain to plan the city’s fight back.
The conference, which will be opened by the Bishop of Birmingham, will convene experts from Forward Thinking Development, Birmingham City Council, Unison, Citizens Advice Bureau, Child Poverty Action Group, Re-Source Central Foodbank, South and City College, DWP, Midland Heart Housing Association, St Basils, Castle Vale Community Housing Association, Ashram Housing, NHS England and others.
The conference will review the state of deepening child poverty in the city and pin down what the Council, schools, the NHS, charities and business can do together to fight back.
Liam Byrne MP said:
“This conference is a watershed in our fight-back against child poverty. Our belief is simple. Every child in Birmingham is equal and deserves a flying start in life. Yet if some are trapped in a child-hood of poverty, it will hurt them for life.
“My ten years as a Birmingham MP has taught me that this is a city of good neighbours – and good neighbours cannot stand by and watch the next generation suffer.
“This conference gives us the chance to bring together some of the world’s leading experts in tackling child poverty to help answer a simple question: what can good people in our city, from all walks of life, do to help.”
Cllr John Cotton said:
“A third of Birmingham’s children are growing up in poverty and in some neighbourhoods the number is even higher still. This is unacceptable.
We are already working hard as a Labour Council to try and lift families out of poverty through initiatives like the Living Wage. We’re also taking action to try and protect people from the impact of unfair Government policies like the Bedroom Tax and their savage cuts to Birmingham’s budgets.
But we have to do much more if we are going to ensure that every child gets the best start in life. This conference brings together the allies we need in the on-going battle to ensure that every child in this city gets the fair start they deserve.”
Operational use only:
1. The Birmingham Child Poverty Conference will take place this Friday 11 April from 10:00 – 12:00 at the Unison offices, Livery Street, B3 2PA.
Notes to editors
1. In February 2014 Birmingham Labour launched a policy taskforce into Child Poverty in Birmingham, its causes and what can be done to eradicate it. The taskforce is headed by Liam Byrne MP and Cllrs John Cotton and Tim Evans
2. Across the city over 84,000 children— almost a third of young Brummies—are now growing up on the breadline with the figure rising to almost half in some wards. Child Poverty Action Group figures show the estimated cost of Child Poverty to the city in 2013 was £914 million in extra services such as education, healthcare and benefits, as well as, lost tax receipts and lost earnings.
Changes to regulations surrounding protections for whistle-blowers now mean that Members of Parliament are recognised as prescribed persons for the purpose of the Public Disclosure Act. This will dramatically increase the protection for any whistle-blowers who contact me and I hope that it means many more will be willing to speak to me about misdemeanour’s that they have observed in their workplaces.
I am here to help the residents of Hodge Hill and so please do get in touch with me – using the contact tab above – if you have any concerns over misdemeanour’s in your workplace.
The House of Commons have provided an explanatory note to accompany this change in the law and for your convenience I provide a copy here below:
(This note is not part of the Order)
This Order amends the Schedule to the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 1999 (“the 1999 Schedule”).
The Employment Rights Act 1996 (“1996 Act”) provides protection for workers who suffer a detriment or are dismissed as a result of blowing the whistle by making a qualifying disclosure in accordance with any of sections 43C to 43H of the 1996 Act. (‘Qualifying disclosure’ has the meaning given in section 43B of the 1996 Act.) Section 43F of the 1996 Act provides that a qualifying disclosure will be protected if it is made to a prescribed person and relates to matters in respect of which that person is prescribed. The 1999 Schedule lists the prescribed persons and the matters in respect of which they are prescribed for the purposes of section 43F.
This Order amends the 1999 Schedule to make members of the House of Commons prescribed persons in respect of any matter listed in the Schedule.
A full impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument as no significant impact on the private, voluntary or public sectors is foreseen.
I am holding my monthly residents’ meeting at the Ward End Fire Station, Washwood Heath Road, B8 2HF tomorrow, Saturday 5th April 2014.
The meeting will be an opportunity for you to raise concerns and issues about where you live.
Please do come along between 11:30am and 12:30pm
It will be great to see you there.
With all best wishes,