Tag Archives: Schools

Newspaper column: No child should be left behind

Every month Jo Cox writes a column for the Batley News and Spenborough Guardian. This month’s column appears in this week’s editions.

Jo Cox leads the debate on education in Yorkshire

Jo Cox leads the debate on education in Yorkshire

I never cease to be impressed at our local schools. I have had the honour to visit many over the last year as part of my plan to visit – and revisit – every one. As well as some inspiring pupils, I have also met tremendous teachers, truly visionary headteachers and deeply committed governors.

We have many schools doing incredible things.

But research by the Social Market Foundation paints a very stark picture across our region.

They found marked disparities in GCSE performance between regions, with over 70% of pupils in London achieving 5 good GCSEs compared to just 63% in Yorkshire and the Humber.

These regional differences are already apparent by the end of primary school – and they are evident even after account is taken of other factors such as ethnicity and income.

Tragically for our children the region has gone from the fifth lowest achieving in the 1970s to the worst in England today. Nearly a quarter of pupils are attending schools that are rated less than good.

In Yorkshire and the Humber children are being left behind.

Here in Kirklees, we out perform the regional average at secondary level but match it at primary level. There is no doubt that there is a postcode lottery in education – and this is a disgrace.

After 30 years of neglect and a lack of focus from Government – we now live in a society in which a child born here has less chance of reaching their potential than one born in London.

I led a debate in Parliament on this issue. Beforehand I met with a group local headteachers to discuss what works and what doesn’t and what they need from the Government.

As one of them said to me: “It is time to stop beating teachers and start giving us the support we need to do our job.”

They are scathing about forcing schools to become academies, something even Tory MPs are threatening to rebel in Parliament over.

The reality of academies is they are neither inherently good nor bad and they should not be bluntly imposed on all schools. Instead of fixating on school governance the Government needs to ensure that schools have the tools they need to do their job. This means focusing instead on issues like teaching standards and recruitment.

This growing divide in regional academic attainment can no longer be left unchallenged.  Nothing politicians do matters more than ensuring that no child is left behind.

If “education, education, education” is a priority then the answer must, in part, be teachers, teachers, teachers.

And what has worked in London, the investment and improvement brought about by Labour’s London Challenge, can work elsewhere. It can work in Yorkshire but it will need real investment and sustained political commitment. It is time for a new, bold and ambitious target to end the postcode lottery in educational attainment.

We have a duty to make sure every child has access to the best possible education. It should not matter where you are born. No child should be left behind.

Jo Cox: “No child should be left behind”

Jo Cox leads the debate on education in YorkshireJo Cox MP opened and led an important House of Commons debate last night into the regional gap in education attainment.

The Batley & Spen MP told MPs that no child should be left behind and that it should not matter where they are born.

The debate centred on research that shows Yorkshire and the Humber is lagging behind other regions in educational attainment, and is in fact the worst performing region in England.

She said: “In Yorkshire and the Humber, children are now being left behind, and no child should be left behind. We can no longer accept that young people in London are far more likely to achieve good outcomes at school than those in other regions

“This disparity is a disgrace, and education has become a postcode lottery.

“After 30 years of neglect and a lack of focus from Government, we now live in a country where a child in some regions has less chance of reaching their potential than one born in London. As London powers ahead in educational attainment, children in the so-called northern powerhouse are falling behind.”

Mrs Cox went on to say: “Surely the growing divide in regional academic attainment can no longer be left unchallenged. Indeed, I contend that nothing we do in this place matters more than ensuring that no child is left behind.

“If education, education, education is a priority, the answer must, in part, be teachers, teachers, teachers. What has worked in London can work elsewhere. It can work in Yorkshire, but it will need real investment and sustained political commitment.

“It is time for a new, bold and ambitious target to end the postcode lottery in educational attainment. We have a duty to ensure that every child has access to the best possible education. It should not matter where they were born. No child should be left behind.”

MP makes Commons speech in defence of further education

Jo Cox speaks during the further education debate

Jo Cox speaks during the further education debate

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox made a speech in Parliament yesterday in defence of further education.

The debate was brought forward by the Labour party, concerned that government cuts and underfunding of further education would impede productivity and the growth of the economy. Mrs Cox raised concerns about the government’s review into post 16 education and the impact that will have on her constituents and on the rest of Kirklees.

Mrs Cox told the House of Commons: “A thriving FE sector is directly linked to a higher-wage, higher-skilled and more productive economy, yet sadly, as the Secretary of State has admitted, post-16 education is in a fragile state.

“Following funding cuts in the last Parliament, colleges are being forced to survive on starvation rations. As I discussed with Yorkshire businesses just this week, these cuts mean young people are leaving further education without the qualifications employers desperately require, and firms are unable to develop, expand and grow.

“In Kirklees, our sixth-form colleges are doing some amazing work despite the funding constraints imposed on them. We have sixth-form colleges of high repute achieving great things academically and vocationally, and of course the FE sector also offers unique provision and is indeed sometimes a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people in society—people who did not achieve their potential at school and for whom FE is a second or third chance.

“If we cut FE, these children and adults are in danger of being even more disengaged and excluded from education and society.”

Mrs Cox added: “FE provision has been disproportionately affected by Government cuts and has not been afforded the same protection offered to schools over the last six years.

“The Government’s decisions regarding further education are too often influenced solely by financial considerations, not on what really matters: providing our young people with the very best and most accessible form of academic or vocational education.

“This is what we want. This is what the FE sector wants. This is what students want. It is what parents want. It is also what universities and employers want.”

You can watch Mrs Cox’s speech by clicking here or read the full text here:

Crossing patrol victory for Batley & Spen schools

windmill_crossing_patrolsJo Cox MP has welcomed Kirklees Council’s decision to fill three crossing patrol vacancies at primary schools in Batley & Spen.

Mrs Cox was approached by parents at Lydgate J&I in Batley, the head boy from Windmill Primary in Birstall and parents at Headlands J&I in Liversedge, all concerned about the safety of pupils when crossing nearby roads.

The council, which has no statutory duty to provide crossing patrols, wrote to all three schools to say their crossing patrol vacancies would not be filled.

But Mrs Cox lobbied the council for six weeks and following this pressure they announced this week that they will advertise for new crossing patrols and fund them until April 2016.

“When Kirklees talks about having its budget cut by the Government to the tune of £152million per year, this is exactly what it means. This is the human face of what the Government’s cuts mean for communities such as ours,” said Mrs Cox.

“Kirklees has funded these in the past because it had the money but now that money has been taken away. Many councils, such as neighbouring Calderdale, don’t fund crossing patrols at all and as the cuts bite harder schools and parents in Kirklees will need to look at other options.

“Moving forward I will continue to work alongside the council, schools and parents to find a sustainable way to make sure local children can cross the road safely.”

Mrs Cox has visited two of the schools, met with staff, parents and pupils, and is due to visit the third following their approach this week. She was also interviewed by Look North with Windmill’s head boy Devan Simon-McBride.

Mrs Cox is pictured with Tim Scargill, head at Windmill Primary, and head boy Devan Simon-McBride.

New MP swaps the Commons for cake

2015-05-22_14.47.45Batley & Spen’s new MP visited Warwick Road School in Batley last week to meet pupils and judge their cake competition.

Jo Cox, carrying out her first official visit to a local school since becoming the MP, also met staff and the headteacher Shamsa Qureshi before being shown round the school.

Afterwards, Mrs Cox sat down with Mrs Qureshi, Anne McCall, joint head teacher at Batley Girls, and Sam Vickers, headteacher at Batley Boys, to discuss the broader educational landscape in Batley and Kirklees.

Mrs Cox said: “It was lovely to be welcomed into Warwick Road School. Tempting me in with the offer of cake was completely unnecessary, the pupils there are delightful and it was lovely to spend some time chatting with them.

“Afterwards I had a very useful discussion on local education, and I want to thank Shamsa, Anne and Sam for their time and their insight. I look forward to visiting every school in Batley & Spen.”