Category Archives: Public services
Statement on Birmingham City Council announcement on the financial situation facing the City – 17 September 2014
A number of people have been in touch seeking my views in response to the City Council’s announcement yesterday on the dire consequences of the financial situation which the City Council is facing.
My statement is below:
“This government is trying to destroy our city, the safety of our parents’ social care and the strength of our children’s’ services. While leafy Surrey gets more help, we get smashed. We will never forget or forgive the Tories and their Lib Dem friends for what they’ve done to us, our city and our families.”
You can read the City Council announcement here:
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
I have had a brilliant day today visiting Brownmead School and the Orchards Care Home with my colleague Cllr John Cotton. I wanted to share some photographs with you.
Certainly one of today’s highlights was meeting Minnie Ratheram at The Orchards Care Home in Shard End. 101 years of age but she doesn’t look a day over 80!
Cllr John Cotton and myself outside The Orchards Care Home after meeting with the residents.
A pleasure to meet with an outstanding public servant – Head Teacher Ashley Winters at Brownmead School, Shard End. After meeting with Mr Winters it was great to greet pupils and parents in the sunshine at the school gate!
Yesterday Cllr Ansar Ali Khan and I met with hundreds of parents who have children at Park View. From that meeting emerged a five-point action plan to see this situation move forward, giving power back to parents.
This morning I met with the Secretary of State Michael Gove at the Department for Education and presented him with a copy of the five-point action plan. The text of the plan is below the photo.
16 June 2014
Please find below a five-point action plan agreed this weekend with hundreds of parents with children at Park View Academy in my constituency.
Park View Parents’ Action Plan:
1. Parents stand united in their demand for excellent education for their children, and will not tolerate second best in anything. This shambolic process of recent weeks has damaged their children’s education, especially the media pestering children and parents for comment. The clear message is: give us the space to do our exams!
2. Parents want the chance to take up Sir Michael Wilshaw’s offer to meet them, so that they can cross-examine him on the facts.
3. Although a small minority suspended judgement, the large majority of parents want the governors to resign now so a fresh team of parents can be elected to draw up an action plan to respond in full the findings.
4. The parents want the chance to put together the team that takes the school forward – and not have a new trust brought in from outside.
5. The parents would like back-up from the best in the business – but also from outstanding school leaders who know and serve our community. We know we are blessed with outstanding local education leaders, for instance at Washwood Heath, Waverley, Ninestiles and Small Heath.
RT HON LIAM BYRNE MP
Birmingham Hodge Hill
See below for a message from myself and Shabana Mahmood MP:
Don’t Lose Faith
Liam Byrne MP and Shabana Mahmood MP
The allegations made about some Birmingham schools are incredibly serious. From the word ‘go’, we demanded that nothing be swept under the carpet, that parents have the facts – and fast.
We want specifics; has gender segregation taken place in mixed schools, yes or no? Have extremist preachers been invited to give assemblies, yes or no?
Why is this necessary? Because Michael Gove’s education policy has left our city with a fragmented school system over which no one has control. Michael Gove and the DfE are theoretically responsible for the numerous academies in our city but how on earth can they do that from Whitehall?
The fact is they can’t and everyone knows it. This has allowed claim and counter claim to flourish – in this context the truth is hard to find.
As the net has widened, these investigations have left local parents with an anger-making sense that schools have come under suspicion merely because they serve a population that is predominantly Muslim; that state schools which make reasonable accommodations for local needs – like allowing a day off to celebrate a religious festival, or allowing pupils to use a school room to pray during the lunch break – might be fine for some – but not for Muslims.
Schools take these steps because they respect students with strong religious convictions and recognise that faith plays an important role for those students in driving their aspiration and every child we inspire helps make our city a richer and better place.
Yet now thousands of Muslim parents feel that they and their children are automatically under suspicion, and that the education they receive will be viewed through the prism of counter-terrorism.
We simply do not accept this.
For many people faith is an integral part of their daily lives. It is a strength to be harnessed which is why today we call on the city’s faith leaders to come together to show the city just how excellence in standards and strength of faith can be coupled better in our state schools.
At the same time we hope that the lessons will be learnt. Ofsted must ask some searching questions about how it so misjudged standards in the past. Michael Gove has to tell us how he let things get out of hand. Of the five schools allegedly bound for special measures, four are academies for which he and no-one else is accountable.
Faith has inspired greatness in our country – and has done for centuries. Let’s build an education system in which it can flourish.
Not just for some. But for all.
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.”
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 just wanted to let you know about a very worthy cause that could do with your support.
Below is a message from our local Hodge Hill St John Ambulance team (based in Bucklands End) who are fundraising to support their vital work in our community – they hope to use the money raised to purchase life-saving equipment such as Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) which will be based in local supermarkets.
See below for a message about their exciting fundraising challenge – for more details on how to donate please visit their team JustGiving page:
St John Ambulance believe that it’s absolutely unacceptable that – due to the lack of trained 1st aiders. Everyone who needs it should receive first aid from those around them.
A local St John Ambulance unit based in Hodge Hill, Birmingham, are currently seeking support for this excellent charity. A team of 8 volunteer members and a supportive member of the public will be climbing to the summit of Ben Nevis, Scotland. Six of who will have a resuscitation Annie doll strapped to their back, whilst the remaining 3 will be carrying the food, liquid, clothing, emergency equipment and further equipment. This climb will be taking place on the 3rd May 2014.
They are aiming to raise in excess of £5000 for St John Ambulance, with all money raised purchasing valuable equipment for our local community. The money will go towards purchasing AED’s which will be based in local our local supermarkets and wider if more money is raised.
They have raised almost £3300 towards their conservative target but would like to exceed their original target. This will enable the team to look at placing further AED’s in the community.
I have recently received the following message from Birmingham City Council on their proposed changes to Starbank Primary School.
“On 23rd January 2014, Birmingham City Council published proposals to Expand by Enlargement and Alteration to the upper Age Limit of Starbank Primary School from 1st September 2014.
Please find attached the statutory proposal that we have published. The representation will run for a 6 week period.
Details of how to make comments are included in the notice. The closing date for comments is Wednesday 5th February 2014.”
Please see below for a link to the notice:
This week I have received a copy of the CQC’s report on the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. You can access a pdf copy of the report on the link below and the CQC’s press release is detailed further below:
EMBAROGED UNTIL: 00.01 Tuesday 14 January 2014
Chief Inspector of Hospitals publishes his findings on the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust
England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has published his first report on the quality of care provided by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in the West Midlands.
The trust was inspected under radical changes introduced by the Care Quality Commission, which provide a much more detailed picture of care in hospitals than ever before.
As well as good care, during its inspection CQC uncovered a number of concerns and areas for improvement at the trust’s Good Hope Hospital in relation to how its services are assessed and monitored. These have prompted the regulator to issue a warning notice to the trust demanding that improvements in this area are made by 21 February 2014.
What inspectors found:
Overall, the report concludes that the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is generally providing patients with safe and effective care. For example, patients and their relatives said that staff were caring and kind and this was observed by the inspection team.
The inspection team found areas of good practice, which included:
- The system to highlight patients who are medically fit for discharge promotes multidisciplinary working to discharge patients effectively.
- The work carried out by the end of life care team in ensuring relatives were involved and continued to feel cared for after the death of their loved one.
- The support of the critical care outreach team to other hospital staff while patients were waiting for a critical care bed.
However, there were a number of areas for improvement that CQC found, including a shortage of midwives and concerns regarding staffing in surgical care and wards caring for older people.
Also, there were concerns with how patients were treated once they had been triaged (the process of assessing and prioritising people’s injuries and illnesses) at reception in the A&E department. Once the initial triage was undertaken on arrival, patients were not being assessed by a healthcare professional within the recommended 15 minute timeframe.
Furthermore, CQC’s inspectors observed that all A&E cubicles at Good Hope Hospital were occupied and some patients had to wait on trolleys in the corridor. On reviewing the care records of two patients, it was clear that they had not been assessed or received any physiological checks while they were waiting.
Also, inspectors witnessed two patients calling out for help in a distressed manner who were ignored by nearby staff as they were busy with other tasks.
The national guidance for clinical practice states that staff should check the emergency equipment daily to ensure it is ready in the event of an emergency. However, CQC found that these checks were not taking place, both in the A&E department and on a nearby ward.
In response, CQC has told the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust that it must take action to improve in the following areas:
- The care provided in the A&E departments, particularly around the timing and type of initial assessment.
- Clarification with regard to services provided by the A&E department at Solihull.
- Ensuring patients are cared for on appropriate wards and clinical areas.
- In the reduction of the use of agency and bank staff through continued recruitment of permanent staff.
- Documentation relating to patient care.
- Clarification with regard to services provided in the Critical Care Unit at Solihull and whether staff are appropriately trained to look after those patients who could be admitted to the unit.
CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “Whenever we inspect we will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led?
“While most services were delivered safely at the trust, the safety of patients in all the A&E sites, the acute medical unit at Good Hope Hospital and the Critical Care Unit at Solihull must be improved. We were concerned about staffing levels in some parts of the trust. However, the trust had an active recruitment programme and could demonstrate that significant numbers of staff were due to start work in early 2014.
“The trust appeared to have well trained staff but there were concerns surrounding the services at Good Hope Hospital and Solihull A&E and Critical Care Unit. Most people described their care as good, telling inspectors that staff were caring, despite being busy.”
CQC’s Head of Hospital Inspection, Fiona Allinson said: “The concerns CQC found were unacceptable and we have warned the trust it must improve. CQC will continue to monitor the service closely and our inspectors will be returning unannounced to check on whether improvements have been made and standards are being met.”
CQC spent four days at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, including Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Heartlands Hospital, and Solihull Hospital in November. The inspection team included doctors, nurses, hospital managers, trained members of the public, CQC inspectors and analysts. They examined the care provided in accident and emergency, medical care (including older people’s care), surgery, intensive/critical care, maternity, children’s care, end of life care and outpatients.
The reports, which CQC has published today (Tuesday 14 January), are based on a combination of their findings, information from CQC’s Intelligent Monitoring system, and information provided by patients, the public and other organisations.
The full reports are available at: http://www.cqc.org.uk/directory/rr1
CQC will return to the trust at a later date to follow up the findings of this inspection and to report on the trust’s progress in making the required improvements.
For media enquiries, call Louise Grifferty, regional communications manager, on 07717 422917, or Helen Gildersleeve, regional communications officer, on 0191 233 3379.
The CQC press office can also be reached on 020 7448 9401 during office hours or out of hours on 07917 232 143.
For general enquiries, call 03000 61 61 61.
Notes to editors
- CQC has presented its findings to a local Quality Summit, including NHS commissioners, providers, regulators and other public bodies. The purpose of the Quality Summit was to develop a plan of action and recommendations based on the inspection team’s findings.
- The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading significantly larger inspection teams than before, headed up by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public. Sir Mike is implementing his new approach to hospital inspection with 18 NHS trusts across England, which represent variation of care. By the end of 2015, CQC will have inspected all acute NHS Trusts in the country with its new inspection model.
About the Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, caring, well-led and responsive care, and we encourage care services to improve. We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.