I was very pleased to support the 'End School Cuts' lobby of Parliament on the 24th of October. I held a drop in session with constituents where we talked about the effect of cuts locally. From this I wrote a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking for a commitment to end the underfunding of education in the Autumn Budget (see below).
In July I visited Sydenham School and saw the work they have been doing on the ‘Send My Friend to School' campaign. The campaign is part of the UK coalition of the ‘Global Campaign for Education’ (GCE) an organisation working to ensure quality education for all children across the globe. The students of Sydenham School were absolutely fantastic and spoke with great passion about the need for global education.
There is currently a global education crisis: 263 million children are out of school, and many of those who are in school are not learning. One of the aims of the 'Sustainable Development Goals' (an initiative led by the United Nations which world leaders have signed up to) is that by 2030 all children worldwide will complete a free good quality primary & secondary education. However, at the current rate of progress it will be 2084 before every child is in school.
As such the ‘Send My Friend to School’ campaign seeks to increase community awareness of this and generate the political will necessary to ensure the UK plays an active part in efforts to secure education for all. I met with Priti Patel the Secretary of State for International Development to present Sydenham Schools work to her. This is a great example of how students work in the classroom can take an active part in politics by helping to influence decision makers.
I spoke in todays 'Questions to the Secretary of State for Justice'. Firstly I asked what compensation the Government is thinking about offering to those who were unable to access justice due to Employment Tribunal Fees.
Employment Tribunal Fees were introduced by the Government in 2013. Prior to this, it was free to submit a claim to the Tribunal and to go to a hearing. However, after the introduction of fees it could cost up to £1,200 just to have your case heard. Unsurprisingly after this Employment Tribunal claims reduced by 79%. Furthermore these fees indirectly discriminated against women, who were more likely than men to suffer discrimination at work.
Fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court in July 2017. In response the Government have stated that they will end Employment Tribunal Fees immediately and make steps to compensate those who have already paid them. But for thousands of workers who had good claims and could not afford to pursue them, the decision comes too late.
My second question concerned what the Government intends to do to ensure that the sentencing guidelines of people who commit animal welfare crimes are reviewed and strengthened. Currently the maximum sentence for a crime is six months, which is completely unacceptable, compare this to the maximum sentence of five years in Northern Ireland.
I wrote the following letter to the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions requesting him to reconsider the proposal to close Lewisham High Street Job Centre.
I received the following reply from the Minister for Employment, which in short claims that due to increased rental costs and online use of services the most cost effective solution is to merge nearby offices. The Minister further assures that this process will not lead to the loss of any jobs and will be made in consultation with staff and trade unions.
I gave my maiden speech to the House last Wednesday (July 12th) in the Grenfell tower debate. A maiden speech is a chance for a new Member of Parliament to introduce themselves to the House. Convention dictates that the speech includes a tribute to the previous MP and general remarks about the constituency whilst still relating to the business under discussion.
I spoke about the lessons of the tragedy of Grenfell Tower and called for a swift and full enquiry. I also spoke about my pledge to fight for our schools and workplace rights and told the House about Lewisham West & Penge and my experiences growing up here, as well as paying tribute to my predecessor Jim Dowd.
This is the letter which I sent to the Secretary of State for Education requesting her to fully assist Forest Hill School with its £1.3 million deficit.
The Tory cuts since 2015 and proposed future cuts mean the School is now having to restructure so as not to overspend. This restructuring means the school is reducing the number of teaching posts and is likely to have to withdraw a number of services upon which the school’s great reputation is built.
I raised the case of Forest Hill School and education cuts in my first question to the House in ‘Business Questions’ on June the 29th. I called for there to be an urgent debate on school funding ahead of the Summer recess.
Here is my letter to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State requesting that Sydenham High Street Crown Post Office does not get downgraded.
Proposals have been put forward to downgrade Sydenham Crown Post Office to a regular Post Office. This would mean handover of the operation from Post Office Limited to a franchise partner or sub-postmaster, to be run as an independent business.
I am concerned that this would lead to good quality, skilled jobs on decent pay being replaced by insecure and low-paid work. Furthermore, research shows that franchised Post Offices offer poorer disabled access, longer queuing times, worse customer service and fewer staff. This would have a big impact on the local economy.
My letter to the minister responsible for the Post Office requests for an update to the offices future status and requests that it stays as a Crown Post Office.
Last Thursday I raised my first question to the house in ‘Business Questions’. ‘Business Questions’ takes place every Thursday after the Leader of the House has announced the week’s upcoming business. It is a period where MPs are allowed to ask the Leader of the House any question and request the Government to make time for debates on specific issues.
I raised the issue of the current education cuts and called for there to be an urgent debate on school funding ahead of the Summer recess. I remember being a pupil at Cator Park Secondary School (now Harris Academy Bromley) in the early 90s. We were taught in class sizes of over 35 with not enough text books to go around, as well as lessons in huts. I don’t want to see our amazing schools go back to these standards because of the current cuts to education.
Since 2010 School budgets have been squeezed such that schools now have to cut their services to the bare bones. In my question, I raised the specific case of Forest Hill School, which has a deficit of £1.3 million and is having to make significant cuts. Without the proper funding, our schools will struggle to continue giving the amazing service that they do. We need to fight to ensure that all our schools get the funding that they require.