Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News from Westminster

Following unsavoury comments made on social media by Baker Small law firm in regards to tribunal cases between local authorities and parents of children with SEND and in her capacity as Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Sharon has written to the Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson MP, to highlight her concerns and called for further investigation into this matter and for the Government to recommit to end the adversarial nature of the SEND support system.

Sharon has also written to Edina Rowland, the Chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and all chief executives of local authorities with children's services regarding her concerns and those raised with her by parents of children with SEND.

An extract of Sharon’s letter to Edward Timpson reads:

“For a law firm, which has been contracted with public money to help mitigate disputes on behalf of a local authority, to gloat on social media about their victories is not helpful in ensuring a less adversarial atmosphere regarding SEND support for children; something that we both called for and welcomed during the passing of the Children and Families Act back in 2014 when the reforms to the system were legislated on.”

Sharon then went on to say in her letter:

“These actions clearly show a complete disregard and lack of respect for professional standards in the legal profession, which must be upheld to the highest standard to ensure that our legal profession is never brought into disrepute.”

Sharon asked the Minister for Children and Families to investigate this matter further along with his colleague, the Solicitor General, and ensure that children are put at the centre of the system and to recommit to ending the adversarial nature seen in the SEND support system.

In her letter to the Chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Sharon called on them to investigate this issue further and to take seriously any complaints received by parents who face adversarial actions by opposing counsel during tribunal hearings and to respect the culture change that Parliament called for during the passing of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Sharon also called on local authorities to evaluate their contracts with outside legal counsel to ensure they are not being vindictive towards families of children with SEND and to recommit to supporting children and young people with SEND.

This all comes as part of Sharon’s review into special educational needs and disabilities for children and young people. More information on the review can be found at this link.

UPDATE (12.08.16): You can read the Minister of State for Education's response to Sharon's letter here.

Sharon writes to Education Minister, Solicitors Regulation Association and Local Authorities about actions of law firm, Baker Small

Following unsavoury comments made on social media by Baker Small law firm in regards to tribunal cases between local authorities and parents of children with SEND and in her capacity...

(From CMA website) "The CMA is reviewing the compliance of 4 secondary ticket platforms with their undertakings and other legal obligations."

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Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announce review of four secondary ticket platforms

(From CMA website) "The CMA is reviewing the compliance of 4 secondary ticket platforms with their undertakings and other legal obligations." Read more

Sharon attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by Paula Sherriff MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health, to show her support for efforts to raise awareness of women’s health conditions, and empower women to seek appropriate treatment.

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The group aims to empower women to ensure that they can make an informed choice about the best treatment for them and that they are treated with dignity and respect.

The event was attended by many parliamentarians, and was supported by a number of representatives from charities and the medical and nursing Royal Colleges, patients, health professionals and the general public.

Speakers included Katie Piper, television presenter and founder of the Katie Piper Foundation, feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, Angela Rippon, television journalist, newsreader and presenter and patients and Dr Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.

Following the launch event, Sharon said:

“Since I was elected to Parliament, I have taken the issue of women’s health very seriously and worked alongside my fellow Parliamentarians to ensure women receive the best treatment and healthcare support possible.

“A lot of this has been done through my work as Chair of the Ovarian Cancer APPG and Co-Chair of the Breast Cancer APPG, and that is why I am delighted that there is now a cross-party group which will be focused on all aspects of women’s health in our society.

“It is important that we understand the conditions that women suffer from and ensure that they are treated in a way that every patient wants to be – with dignity and respect.”

Sharon supports launch of APPG on Women’s Health in Parliament

Sharon attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by Paula Sherriff MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health, to show her support for efforts to raise awareness of women’s...

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As Labour's Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon visited Eldon Junior School in Edmonton to see first-hand the work done to support children with their social and emotional well-being as part of the Nurture Group scheme. 

Nurture Groups are classes of between 6 and 12 children or young people across all key stages and uses evidence-based practices to offer short-term inclusive focused interventions that allow children to remain active parts of their main class groups but also receive support regarding their social and emotional needs that help to remove barriers to learning. 

Following the visit, Sharon said: 

“It was lovely to visit Eldon Junior School and see first-hand the important work being done through the Nurture Group which is helping children improve their social and emotional well-being. 

“The group were incredibly friendly and welcoming, and I enjoyed having the chance to look through their sketchbooks and hear more about the work they do as part of Nurture Group.”

To find out more about Nurture Groups, or the Nurture Group Network who provide support to these Groups, visit their website here.

Sharon visits Eldon Junior School's Nurture Group

As Labour's Shadow Minister for Children, Sharon visited Eldon Junior School in Edmonton to see first-hand the work done to support children with their social and emotional well-being as part...

This week saw MPs debating the new legislative programme announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech.

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ECHO COLUMN: NHS and BBC must be championed - Queen's Speech debate

This week saw MPs debating the new legislative programme announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech. Read more

Sharon Hodgson, Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse welcomes recommendation for an investigation by Police and National Trading Standards into compliance of the law by the secondary ticketing market.

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Sharon Hodgson MP reacts to the Waterson review into secondary ticketing - 26.05.2016

Sharon Hodgson, Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse welcomes recommendation for an investigation by Police and National Trading Standards into compliance of the law by the secondary ticketing market.... Read more

You can read Sharon's reaction to the Queen's Speech presented to Parliament on the 18.05.16 below.

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“Today’s Queen Speech has proven yet again that this Tory Government lacks any vision when it comes to their legislative programme for the coming Parliamentary year and are failing to deliver on their promise of being a One Nation Government."

“Instead of investing in skills, training and infrastructure or addressing the burgeoning housing crisis engulfing our country, the Government have reannounced their hot-air Northern Powerhouse initiative – which seems to always forget about the North East – and continued to ignore the black hole in public finances after the Tories’ ultrashambolic Budget in April. None of this should be of any surprise to us when this Tory Government are in disarray and divided over the upcoming EU Referendum, which has opened up old wounds for the Tory Party."

“People in this country deserve a Government that addresses issues that affect their everyday lives, rather than focusing on protecting their own backs, that is why I will be working with my Labour colleagues here in Parliament to hold this Government to account over the coming year to get the best deal possible for our country, especially the people of Washington and Sunderland West.”

Sharon reacts to Queen's Speech 18.05.16

You can read Sharon's reaction to the Queen's Speech presented to Parliament on the 18.05.16 below. “Today’s Queen Speech has proven yet again that this Tory Government lacks any vision...

In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Sharon has launched a review into SEND provision in the Children and Families Act, following analysis which reveals that children with special educational needs and disabilities are falling through the net.

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 Sharon chairing the first roundtable of her review into SEND provision.

According to analysis by the Labour Party:

  • New official figures published in response to a Parliamentary Question reveal that 78 per-cent of children in Alternative Provision have a statement of special educational needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
  • New figures also show that over 33,000 children with SEND are on fixed term exclusions from schools. Research reveals that pupils with SEND are nine times more likely to be excluded than their peers, and account for 70 per-cent of all permanent exclusions.

This also links with research by charities, such as the National Autistic Society, which found that half of parents of children on the autism spectrum are “dissatisfied” and around half still struggle to access the ‘Local Offer’ – despite this being a statutory requirement of local authorities to provide these families with information about local services they can access.

The review will consider: 

  • the impact of “every school an academy”, which remains the Government’s goal, on SEND admissions and provision;
  • the drafting of EHCPs;
  • the transition from Statements to EHCPs;
  • the variability in the ‘Local Offer’;
  • the SEN Code of Practice;
  • provision of SEND in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and;
  • accessing specialist services within the school setting.

The review will have two roundtable sessions in May, and a call for written evidence running until the summer. A report published in the autumn will feed into the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum; a key component of policy development towards the Party’s manifesto for 2020.

Sharon said:

“The Government promised that reforms set out in the Children and Families Act during the last Parliament would transform the experience of children with SEND and their families. Yet two years later, we are seeing significant numbers of these children excluded from school and many of their parents experiencing significant difficulties in accessing support.

“With their recent Schools White Paper failing to announce any new meaningful reforms to SEND provision, Tory Ministers seem content with the status quo. This simply isn’t good enough: far more needs to be done to improve the attainment, outcomes and experiences of children with SEND, so that we can ensure all children and young people have a fair chance of making a fulfilling transition to adulthood.

“That is why today Labour is launching a review into the current provision for children and young people with SEND, to identify why so many children with SEND are being excluded from school and what the next steps should be for SEND provision and services in England.”

Call for Written Evidence

To submit written evidence to the review, please send no more than 5 pages of A4, type size: 12 point, Arial font, to: tyed@parliament.uk including evidence and recommendations no later than 6pm on Friday 29th July 2016.

Hand-written submissions will be accepted, but typed is preferred. To send hand-written evidence, please send it to:

FAO Daniel Robert Tye

c/o Sharon Hodgson MP

House of Commons,

London, SW1A 0AA

Written evidence can include thoughts, stories, evidence of best practice, research or recommendations but are not exclusive to this list. The requirements on length must be strictly adhered too in order for all submissions to be considered.

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You can also read Sharon's Labour List blog piece on the SEND Review here.

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28th June 2016

Statement from Sharon regarding the SEND Review:

“As many of you will know, yesterday afternoon I made the difficult decision to resign as the Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In this role, I have had the pleasure of working with many organisations, specialists and individuals in the SEN world to ensure that children, no matter their circumstances or needs, get the best start in life.

“However, this now, unfortunately, means that I will not be continuing my work on the SEND Review. This will now be taken up by my successor, who is yet to be appointed. Once that happens I will undertake a full handover and ensure that this important area of policy development continues. I want to give my sincere thanks to all who have worked with me and supported me in this role and my work in this area over the years.

“This sector really has the most committed individuals who go above and beyond to campaign and support children with SEND, and that is why I will continue to champion the issues facing children and young people with SEND from the backbenches as I have done since becoming a Member of Parliament.”

Sharon launches review into SEND provision in Children and Families Act

In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Sharon has launched a review into SEND provision in the Children and Families Act, following analysis which reveals that children...

APPG on Ticket Abuse supports Parliamentary Petition calling for enforcement of Consumer Rights Act.

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APPG on Ticket Abuse supports petition calling for enforcement of Consumer Rights Act

APPG on Ticket Abuse supports Parliamentary Petition calling for enforcement of Consumer Rights Act. Read more

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.

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Food is an undeniable and essential part of our lives. It helps fuel our minds and bodies, whilst also giving us the vital nutrients to stay healthy, especially for children. This is something I have championed for a long time now.

This first started with my push for universal free school meals in 2008, after a fact-finding mission to Sweden where I saw exactly what could be possible here in the UK, and drove me to lobby the Labour Government of the day to introduce universal free school meals pilots in Durham and Newham.

The evaluation of these pilots clearly showed the impact universal free school meals had on addressing educational and health inequalities, along with social and behavioural problems.

Sadly, these were scrapped by the incoming coalition Government in 2011.

Soon after they commissioned a report into school food, by two entrepreneurs, John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby.

During their investigation, I worked closely with them to see recommendations for better food in our schools, including one for universal free school meals – which they included with the proviso, ‘when funding could be found’.

This was seen sooner than expected in 2014 with the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals, when all infant children received a hot and healthy school meal in England, and the evidence on the ground is showing the benefits this policy can have to a child’s education.

Yet, there is a growing problem when it comes to the school holidays when children have little, if sometime any, access to healthy food and we see all the good work done during term time reversed.

Many will argue that what happens when the school gates shut is none of our business, but when families are relying heavily upon food banks in the holidays and teachers reporting children returning from the holidays malnourished, then it is damning that we aren’t doing anything to support these families.

That is why I, as Chair of the School Food APPG, set up the Holiday Hunger Task Group, which since its creation in 2013 has gone from strength to strength, including publishing voluntary guidance to organisations providing holiday activities and also a report which highlighted best practice across the country.

However, there is a lot more still to be done.

Ahead of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy later this year and the Summit4Nutrition at the Rio Olympics this summer, which aims to address hunger domestically and internationally, I will be lobbying the Government to do more, and not waste this opportunity to realise an ambition I hold dearly: that no child goes hungry during the school holidays.

 

ECHO COLUMN: No child should go hungry in the school holidays

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website. Food is an undeniable and essential part of our lives. It helps fuel...

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