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I’m sure you all have heard that BHS went into administration on the 25th April after having been sold by Sir Philip Green in March 2015 for £1. Most stores have already closed, marking the end of its tenure as a well-known fixture of British high streets, including Durham. The jobs of the 11,000 employees of BHS have been lost and 20,000 current and future pensioners have been facing substantial cuts to their entitlements. Meanwhile, Sir Philip Green and many others involved in the decisions that, in my opinion, led to the failure of BHS seem to have been able to walk away freely.

 

I think that the failure of BHS can in part be attributed to bad business decisions and personal greed and those involved should face serious action for what they have done.

 

Over the years of Sir Philip’s ownership, it seems as though significantly more money left the company than was invested in it. Despite the pension deficit of £571m, Philip Green and his family reportedly collected £586m in dividends, rental payments and interest on loans during their 15 year ownership. As the pension deficit grew, there seems to have been limited efforts to resolve it. Personally, I think that the failure to make the contributions necessary to maintain the pension scheme means that Sir Philip and his directors now have the responsibility to fill the current pension gap.

 

BHS was sold to Dominic Chappell in March 2015. It appears that his team could offer no equity and had no means of raising funds on a long term basis. In my opinion, it seems obvious that he was a wholly unsuitable purchaser and that his shortcomings were overlooked during the sale. For this, I feel they should also be held accountable.

 

Sir Philip keeps insisting that other people are to blame and does not seem to be accepting responsibility for his actions. The tragedy of the whole situation is that it is the ordinary employees who are losing out. 

 

I want you all to know that I will be speaking out against the actions of the current and former owners of BHS and will be calling for further action to be taken against them. I also fully support my colleague Frank Field in his work as chair of the Department of Work & Pensions Committee.

 

If you have been affected by the situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me with your opinions and concerns.

 

 

 

My thoughts on BHS

I’m sure you all have heard that BHS went into administration on the 25th April after having been sold by Sir Philip Green in March 2015 for £1. Most stores...

 

I will be running a number of phone banks to encourage our members to vote for Owen Smith in the forthcoming Labour Leadership election.

 

The phone banks will be Monday to Thursday from 5pm to 7pm, and on Saturday between 10am and 12 noon. The first session therefore, will be tonight – Monday 1 August.  If you are able to spend some time phoning our members, your help really would be very much appreciated. If you do intend to come along for any of these sessions, please get in touch on mail@roberta.org.uk or by telephoning 0191 374 1917 so we can get an idea of how many people to expect.

 

If you are keen to get involved, but can’t make any of those times, please just get in touch with me on the same e-mail address and telephone number to let us know when you are available, and we will be able to accommodate you somewhere to do some telephoning.

 

Don't worry if you've never done phone banking before there will be people on hand to show you the ropes!

Owen Smith Leadership Campaign

  I will be running a number of phone banks to encourage our members to vote for Owen Smith in the forthcoming Labour Leadership election.   The phone banks will...

The foreword to the Government’s White Paper on Educational Excellence Everywhere says that “Access to a great education is not a luxury but a right for everyone”, so it’s surprising that many of the proposals in the White Paper could be very detrimental to the quality of education that students receive.

One of the most significant areas of concern is the growing number of teachers who have no formal teaching qualification. In 2012, the Government removed the requirement for teachers in academies to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), meaning that the number of unqualified teachers has risen from 16,000 to over 20,000. Whilst having a Qualified Teacher Status doesn’t guarantee a great teacher, and someone could be a fantastic teacher without having gone through the formal qualification process, overall standards of teaching will be higher if we can guarantee that everyone has reached a basic level of training.

The White Paper is going to extend the previous reforms to teacher training and professional accreditation by scrapping QTS entirely, and replacing it with a new accreditation. However, the Government so far has failed to come up with any details whatsoever about this new method of accreditation would involve. What’s more, this new, unknown accreditation would still not be required in academy schools. Forcing trainee teachers to jump through ever more hoops in order to get accreditation simply doesn’t make sense when ever increasing numbers of schools don’t require it – in fact, making the accreditation more arduous might even deter some from working towards a qualified status as they know they can work without it in academy schools. It’s hard to see how an increase in unqualified teachers could raise standards in schools, and I really fear for the education of children, especially of those from deprived backgrounds, if these changes do go ahead.

It’s not just children who will be affected by the changes proposed in the Government’s White Paper. Headteachers are increasingly feeling the pressure of having to train staff, as the White Paper proposes a move of almost entirely school based teacher training, with some limited involvement from universities. At a time when funding to schools has been cut, and headteachers are stretching their resources ever more thinly, it’s unfair to place another burden on them in the form of teacher training. I’ve spoken to a number of headteachers from across the UK on this issue, and they are united in saying that having the responsibility for teacher training is an unwelcome burden which makes it harder to deliver the highest quality education for their students.

Furthermore, I do not think that the Government has fully thought through the implications of moving towards an entirely school based training system. Durham University is one of many universities around the country which provides exceptional and academically rigorous teacher training, based on up to date research. By moving to a school based system, I fear that the expertise found in universities like Durham would be lost, and would be replaced by a system where standards from school to school could vary considerably. Our priority should always be getting the best teaching for children in the UK. This White Paper’s proposals will drive standards down, not up, and could be really detrimental to the quality of education students receive. 

My concerns about changes to teacher training

The foreword to the Government’s White Paper on Educational Excellence Everywhere says that “Access to a great education is not a luxury but a right for everyone”, so it’s surprising...


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