Education Committee – Accessibility of Apprenticeships

On Tuesday in the Education Committee meeting on the quality of skills and apprenticeships training, I asked the panel about the barriers to accessing apprenticeships, including having to pay for transport, uniforms and childcare, and what can be done to reduce these barriers.

This follows a survey of apprenticeship pay in July, which found that 18% of apprentices were paid below the appropriate national minimum wage or national living wage.

The Young Women’s Trust found that 43% of apprentices said that the costs associated with doing an apprenticeship are higher than their earnings as an apprentice. It also found that more than half of apprentices struggle to cover basic living costs such as rent or utilities.

Colne Valley Constituency Businesses Survey

We have some fantastic, creative and inspiring businesses in the Colne Valley constituency, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and meeting many of them and will be talking with many more at the Colne Valley Business Conference which I am hosting on 9th February.

I’m always keen to learn more about the concerns, pressures and issues impacting on businesses and your ideas for what needs to change in the future, so today I am launching a short online survey.

If you are a small or medium business based in the Colne Valley constituency, your feedback will be very valuable and help my work in support of local businesses.  The survey is open to SMEs of all types – private businesses, social enterprises, co-operatives and others – and from all industry sectors.

You can fill out the survey here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/ColneValleySMEs/

Education Committee Fostering Report

Over the last few months, the Education Select Committee have been taking evidence on fostering and how fostered children are supported. We have now released a report into our findings.

This is the first formal report that I have been involved with since becoming an MP, and I am delighted that we have managed to highlight some of the issues around fostering, allowing the Government to address those issues. One U-turn the Government has already made, is that foster parents will now be entitled to the full 30 hours free childcare for children they foster. This could help over 3000 children.

We still have a way to go to make sure that foster carers and children are fully supported, but this report is certainly a first step in the right direction.

You can read the full report here:  https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmeduc/340/340.pdf

PMQ – Pressures on teachers

Today, I asked my second question to the Prime Minister.

I asked her whether her Government would listen to education professionals, and fully and fairly fund our schools; end the toxic culture of targets and tests; deliver a broad and balanced curriculum; and most of all return the joy of teaching back to our classrooms.

TES – Pressure on teachers to protect children’s mental health

Back in December, I spoke to the TES (Times Educational Supplement), about my experience as a teacher, the work I have done in Parliament since being elected and my priorities for the New Year.

In particular, I’m concerned about the pressure being put on teachers to help protect children’s mental health, and the effect this is having on their wellbeing.

I believe that teachers are saying: ‘Where does my brief end? I came into this as an educator. Of course there’s a pastoral role, but I’m not a mental health nurse. What else am I responsible for?’

Here is the link to the article: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/enough-they-can-only-do-so-much-mps-concern-over-teachers-mental

Road Safety Week

During Road Safety Week in November, it was interesting to experience what it would be like to drive with glaucoma using a state-of-the-art driving simulator that @VisionExpress brought to Parliament.