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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...

junk_free_TV_CRUK_1_(2).jpgOn Tuesday 5th July, Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, met with Nikki McCann, the Ambassador for Cancer Research UK in Parliament to discuss Cancer Research UK’s work in funding research, preventing and controlling various forms of cancer and finding cures.

Cancer Research’s latest campaign is focusing on the damaging effects of obesity and the links between being overweight and the chances of developing cancer.

After smoking, obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer and is linked to more than 18,000 cases each year.

Currently 6 in 10 people in the UK are obese or overweight though this figure is higher in County Durham standing at 7 in 10. 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese though again in County Durham the number stands higher at 36.5%. These statistics demonstrate that this is a national issue which requires immediate action.

The aim of Cancer Research UK’s campaign is to decrease these numbers and stop preventable cancers by tackling unhealthy eating habits in childhood. Evidence shows that people who are obese or overweight as a child are more likely to continue to be so as an adult, increasing their risk of developing cancer.

The Government is planning to release a Childhood Obesity Strategy which will outline how they plan to tackle children’s obesity. As part of this strategy we want to see restrictions on junk food adverts on TV between 7 – 9pm in order to prevent children being exposed to unhealthy food marketing that influences their eating habits. Research suggests children who see junk food advertising on TV are more likely to eat more unhealthy food. According to Nikki McCann, Cancer Research UK’s Ambassador, “Many children do understand what is healthy and not healthy. It's the impact of junk food advertising that is driving their choices”.

Roberta has pledged her support for the campaign along with many other MPs. You too can help get involved and help stop preventable cases of cancer. To do this we need you to ask your MP to write to the Minister for Public Health in support of removing TV junk food advertising before 9pm.

Roberta said “It was very enlightening to see how lesser known causes of cancer, such as obesity, are being tackled by Cancer Research UK. The link between obesity and cancer is unquestionable therefore this campaign is of huge importance. Obesity, including in children, must be directly addressed as confronting this issue has multiple benefits and could stop one of the biggest killers of our generation. I thank Cancer Research UK for inviting me to their Parliamentary Day and I fully pledge my support for their campaign.”

Roberta backs campaign to tackle obesity related cancer

On Tuesday 5th July, Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, met with Nikki McCann, the Ambassador for Cancer Research UK in Parliament to discuss Cancer Research UK’s work...

Last week Roberta spoke in a debate in the Chamber on Online Abuse and how important it is that we clarify the law surrounding this issue so that victims can have justice and police officers can do their jobs. This is an area that Roberta feels extremely passionately about and she is actively involved in the “Reclaim the Internet” campaign, launched last year by Yvette Cooper MP.

In her speech, Roberta highlighted in particular the abuse that women face online and, whilst online abuse does affect everyone, statistics do indicate that women seem to be the recipients of particular vitriol.

Roberta also took the opportunity to praise the Chief Constable of Durham Police, Mike Barton, who has been at the forefront of calls for legislation to be updated and clarified to minimise the amount of time lost by police on cases where they have no chance of a prosecution.

 

If you would like to read Roberta’s full speech you can do so here:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-07-07/debates/16070729000001/OnlineAbuse#contribution-16070729000071

Or alternatively, you can watch the video below.

 

 

Roberta stands up for victims of online abuse

Last week Roberta spoke in a debate in the Chamber on Online Abuse and how important it is that we clarify the law surrounding this issue so that victims can...


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