Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.
When the Prime Minister stood outside Downing Street earlier this year, she told the country that no one would be left behind.
Yet, in the months since her appointment, Theresa May has run roughshod over this promise and brought in plans which would take regressive steps back on improving the lives of many children and young people in our country with the introduction of Grammar Schools.
These plans, just like the Government’s plans to force all schools to become academies, have been met with opposition from across the political spectrum, including Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner and the former Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan.
Add to this the anger from education experts, teachers, trade unions and most importantly, the wider public, and it is clear that the Government is not listening to the people.
The evidence is clear, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) showed last month, that where grammar schools are prevalent, such as in Kent, only 27% of pupils on free school meals achieved five good GCSEs.
The Government says that children on free school meals thrive in grammar schools, yet ignore the facts that the poorest children struggle in this form of education as shown by the IFS, and also that only 2.5% of grammar school entrants are entitled to free school meals.
It is absolutely paramount that we improve the education of children and young people in our country in order that the next generation have the skills and knowledge to achieve in the 21st century world of work.
However, deciding a child’s future prospects at the age of 11 is a highly damaging way of educating our children, which deserves to be left forgotten in the 1950s.
This is compounded when the financial means of more affluent families are used to help coach their children to excel and pass the 11+ exams, which disproportionately advantages their future education over that of children from families who do not have the means to have their child coached in this way.
This is why we should oppose these plans wherever possible.
Grammar schools are yet another example of how out of touch the Tories are with the public and the experts, and instead of stopping and listening to the evidence, are dragging us back to a failed educational system based on segregation. Instead the Government should be getting to work on the nuts and bolts issues facing our education system; ever-increasing class sizes and teacher shortages - not another bells and whistles restructuring of our schools which nobody wants or asked for.
ECHO COLUMN: Schools plan shows Tories out of touch
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website. When the Prime Minister stood outside Downing Street earlier this year, she told...
Sharon last night presented petitions sent to her on behalf of WASPI women in her constituency and their friends and family to Parliament which called on the Government to put in place transitional arrangements to mitigate the impact of the equalisation of the State Pension Age.
Copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
Following her call for constituents to sign the petition, Sharon Hodgson MP received a total of over 400 signatures from constituents, and on the evening of the 11th October presented the petition on the floor of the House, alongside many of her Parliamentary colleagues from across the House of Commons.
The handing in of the petitions was led by Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles, and included MPs from across the Chamber who presented petitions on behalf of their constituents.
Following the presentation of the petition, Sharon said:
“It was wonderful to see so many constituents signing this petition to support the WASPI women, who have been so unfairly impacted by the Government’s botched job of equalising the State Pension Age.
“I want to thank the over 400 constituents who took the time to sign this petition, who all agreed that the Government can and should be doing more to bring in transitional arrangements for those women born in the 1950s who have been affected so much by these changes.
“I hope that this will be a game-changer and we will finally see some movement from the Government in addressing the concerns of the WASPI women, after so many attempts have been made in the past but have been sadly ignored by ministers. This cannot continue to go on and something must be done now, and the Government has the power to do just that.”
Sharon present petition on behalf of WASPI women
Sharon last night presented petitions sent to her on behalf of WASPI women in her constituency and their friends and family to Parliament which called on the Government to put...
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Art, Craft and Design in Education, Sharon brought together, for the first time, various other All-Party Parliamentary Group, including the Design and Innovation APPG, Performer’s Alliance Parliamentary Group, and the Arts. Health, Wellbeing, amongst others, to highlight the issues facing the arts, in both education and industry.
Sharon opened the event by speaking about the impact Brexit and the Government’s education policies, such as the EBacc, will have on our creative industries.
You can read Sharon’s speech here: http://www.sharonhodgson.org/sharon_speaks_at_arts_summit_in_parliament
Alongside Sharon’s speech, the summit attendees also heard from Kate Mason, Director of The Big Draw, and 16-year-old cartoonist, Zoom Rockman, who showcased an animated film for a school science project, which highlighted the cross-over between the arts and other subjects. The Summit also heard from Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, political cartoonist MARF and art educator Lily Elms who asked guests to draw onto a huge cartoon strip with their creative thoughts and ideas.
Following the event, Sharon said:
“It was wonderful to see a room which is usually devoted to the rigmarole of Parliamentary business used to showcase the importance of art education, not just to our children’s education and lives, but also society and economy as a whole.
“When the UK’s creative industries account for 5.8% of total jobs in the UK and contributes £160,000 per minute to our economy – which over the duration of the event would have contributed £19,200,000 to our economy, it is clear these figures cannot go on ignored. This is especially true when there is no clear Brexit strategy for the creative industries or considering the Government’s education policies, such as the EBacc, which will impact the creative pipeline.
“It is important that MPs have the opportunity to engage with the arts to fully understand its significance, and I hope that the summit will have reinforced the message that arts and creativity are central to our humanity, but also to our society and economy as a whole. There is still more to be done to raise awareness, but the work started at the Arts Summit on working collaboratively are crucial first steps to ensure our creative industries flourish.”
Sharon hosts “Drawn Together: Collaborating Creatively” Arts Summit in arliament 11.10.16.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Art, Craft and Design in Education, Sharon brought together, for the first time, various other All-Party Parliamentary Group, including the Design...
At her first outing at Health Questions as Labour’s new Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon raised the need for action to be taken on preventative measures to help change behaviours when it comes to the issue of rising obesity levels.
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
During her exchange, Sharon highlighted the delayed and downgraded Childhood Obesity Plan as a policy which didn’t go far enough and quizzed the Public Health Minister on the need for assurances that the promised preventative strategy would be fully realised so that the next generation would be healthier than the last.
Following Health Questions, Sharon said:
“When the Childhood Obesity Strategy was published over the summer recess, I was dismayed to see it had been downgraded from the promised world-first strategy to a 13-page plan that rehashed many of the already announced policies the Government had come forward with.
“This is why it was important, especially on World Obesity Day, that I used my first outing at Health Questions as Shadow Minister for Public Health to seek assurances from the Government that they would do more to ensure that preventative measures were implemented to ensure that the next generation is healthier than the last.
“I welcomed what the Public Health Minister had to say, however, the time for warm rhetoric is over and what we need now is action to address rising obesity levels. Scrutiny of the Government’s actions will be paramount in the coming weeks and months ahead, to make sure any progress that is made will have a serious and positive impact on the health of the nation.”
You can read Sharon’s exchange with the Public Health Minister here.
Sharon raises delayed Childhood Obesity Plan at Health Questions to coincide with World Obesity Day 11.10.16
At her first outing at Health Questions as Labour’s new Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon raised the need for action to be taken on preventative measures to help change...
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, and the new Shadow Minister for Public Health, said:
“I am honoured to have been asked by Jeremy Corbyn to serve in the Shadow Health team under our new Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth. I am proud to be a part of a team that will stand up for one of Labour’s proudest achievements: the NHS; where I will be specifically holding the Government to account on public health issues.
“Public health policy affects each and every one of us, and it is important that Labour develops a clear policy strategy that shows there is an alternative to the current Tory approach to public health.
“Labour always has, and always will, champion public health as one of the most serious areas of policy that we need to address to benefit society. Sadly, much of this is being undermined or blatantly ignored by the Tories on some of the key health issues facing our country. For the last six years under the Tories and the previous Tory-led Coalition Government, we have seen an utter lack of policy making, to address not only obesity, but also child hunger and malnutrition.
“This, along with the stalling of the ‘Public Health Responsibility Deal’, which was promised to make serious inroads into addressing our country’s health together with a lack of resources given to local council’s to offer wide-ranging and comprehensive public health services, are key areas of concern.
“This is a wide-ranging brief, with several important responsibilities, and I am looking forward to hitting the ground running by holding the Government to account from day one to ensure that the next generation is healthier than the last and not the other way around.”
Sharon's statement on appointment as Shadow Minister for Public Health
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, and the new Shadow Minister for Public Health, said: “I am honoured to have been asked by Jeremy Corbyn to serve in...
Following analysis of Government data, Sharon raised the impact that the Government’s decision to scrap funding to small schools to help pay for Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) and the impact this would have on small schools across the country, especially in seats held by Tories who have been silent on this issue.
This all followed the leaking of the Small Schools Taskforce report – which was commissioned to look into how small schools would continue to fund UIFSM – and concluded that if further funding was not allocated to small schools to help pay for UIFSM then schools would face a loss of nearly £4000 a year.
Analysis of the data by Sharon found that the worst region to be affected by this cut was the South West, where 520 schools would lose out on a total of £1,196,000 in funding which would affect 17,577 children. Based on the number of schools affected by this cut, all of the schools were based in Conservative constituencies, such as Liz Truss, the Justice Secretary and Patrick McLoughlin, Chairman of the Conservative Party, whilst based on the number of children impacted by this cut, both the Health Secretary and the former Prime Minister’s constituencies were top of the league.
During her exchange with the Schools Minister, Sharon highlighted that 566 children from across the constituencies of Education Ministers have been impacted by this cut, yet was met with a lack of understanding or knowledge by the Schools Minister who reiterated that the Government was looking at the funding for rural schools.
Following Education Questions, Sharon said:
“It was clear that the Minister had not fully understood my question and the impact of the cuts his Department have made to such vital funding that ensures children are eating a hot and healthy free school meal at lunchtimes.
“He may have said that they are looking into the funding of rural schools, however, in a report that his own Department commissioned and subsequently sat on to save themselves some grief, it shows that this cut to UIFSM small school’s subsidies will greatly impact the budgets of schools. It might be an idea that the minister goes back to his officials and asks them to pull off the Small Schools Taskforce report from the shelf and let him have a good read of it.
“Providing children with a hot and healthy school meal, especially a one that is free, is an important way of addressing many issues, including educational attainment, behavioural issues and as evidence shows, feeding a child a healthy meal can have many benefits on their health. Let’s hope that the Government will finally reconsider this decision to cut such important funding and make sure that children and these small schools are not worse off because of such a short-sighted cut.”
You can read Sharon’s exchange with the Schools Minister here.
Sharon raises cut to UIFSM Small School Subsidy at Education Questions 10.10.16
Following analysis of Government data, Sharon raised the impact that the Government’s decision to scrap funding to small schools to help pay for Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) and...
Following the publication of the initial proposals from the Boundary Commission on redrawing the map of Parliamentary constituency, Sharon has reacted to the initial proposals:
“The constituency changes, set out in the Boundary Commission’s initial proposals, are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable. The data used to create the new constituencies is grossly out-of-date, missing off almost 2 million people who fell through the gaps from the Government’s botched job of introducing individual voter registration as well as all of those from the registration drive ahead of the EU Referendum.
“The omission of this crucial data has distorted the whole review and we now see a constitutional process based upon unfairness. The new constituencies that have been created don’t provide people with improved representation, this is seen specifically in Washington and Sunderland, where there are clear issues for future representation.
“It is extremely disappointing to see that Sunderland will now be split between five constituencies and Washington will be split amongst three, after it was rightly unified into one constituency at the last boundary review. It is also concerning to see that one of Sunderland’s biggest employers, Nissan, will not be in a Sunderland constituency. There has always been a strong parliamentary connection between Sunderland and Nissan, a connection set to be undermined by this boundary change.
“Sunderland and Washington both have strong identities within our region and this should be reflected within their representation in Parliament, that is why it is deeply saddening to see it diminished within these initial proposals. I will work alongside my Labour colleagues in Parliament to oppose these plans and make sure that the Tories pause and look again at this process and ensure that our electors and democracy are not undermined.”
For more information about the boundary commission's report and the subsequent consultation, follow this link.
Sharon reacts to Boundary Commission proposals
Following the publication of the initial proposals from the Boundary Commission on redrawing the map of Parliamentary constituency, Sharon has reacted to the initial proposals: “The constituency changes, set out...
At Culture, Media and Sport Questions on 8th September, Sharon raised the issue of arts funding disparity for the North East compared to places like London and secured a commitment for the new Culture Minister, Matt Hancock MP, to visit Sunderland ahead of the City’s bid for City of Culture 2021.
Sharon speaking at Culture, Media and Sport Questions on 8th September 2016
Copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit
Analysis of National Lottery funding found that Arts Council England has distributed almost £3.5 billion of Lottery cash across England since 1995, of which London has received £1.34billion (approximately 39.1%) which is equivalent to £165 per head in London compared with £46.77 per head in the rest of England.
This also links with the disproportionate private sector funding into the arts in London, which received 82% of private sector funding for the arts.
Sadly, none of this was addressed in the most recent Budget where London arts and cultural organisations received more money in the Budget (around £54 million) than those outside of London, which in total received (£42.5million).
Following her Culture, Media and Sport Question, Sharon, said:
“It is clear that the North South divide has seeped down into funding for the arts and culture, despite there being many important cultural venues outside of London, especially in the North East, including here in the Sunderland, such as the National Glass Centre in Sunderland and the community-based Washington Arts Centre in my own constituency.
“More must be done to reverse these trends in order that culture in our region is not negatively impacted by lack of funding support. One way to do this is for Sunderland to successfully win the bid for City of Culture 2021 to showcase what we have to offer to the rest of the country and also the world.
“I will be taking up the new Culture Minister on his offer to come visit Sunderland ahead of our bid for City of Culture 2021 and will be writing to him to secure a date in his diary so he can see first-hand exactly what is offer on Wearside.”
Sharon secures visit of new Culture Minister to Sunderland ahead of City’s bid for City of Culture 2021
At Culture, Media and Sport Questions on 8th September, Sharon raised the issue of arts funding disparity for the North East compared to places like London and secured a commitment for...
Following the AGM of the Dyslexia and SpLD APPG, Sharon has been elected as the new Chair of this influential cross-party group of MPs and Peers after the out-going Chair, Kelvin Hopkins MP, decided to step down.
Following her election, Sharon, said:
“Following my own personal experiences as a mother of a child with severe dyslexia and campaigning through-out my time as a Member of Parliament on special educational needs and disability issues, both from the backbenches and on the frontbench, I am honoured that my fellow Parliamentarians have put their trust in me to continue the excellent work of the out-going Chair, Kelvin Hopkins and chair this cross-party group.
“Supporting children, young people and adults with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties has always been a cause close to my heart. Whilst there have been some important steps forward in provision in recent years, especially for children and young people with the roll-out of reforms in the Children and Families Act 2014, there is still a need to make sure that these reforms are ensuring that children and young people are getting the best deal possible to ensure they can grow up to be successful adults, and I hope to push forward on this agenda as Chair of this important APPG.”
Sharon becomes the new Chair of APPG for Dyslexia and SpLD
Following the AGM of the Dyslexia and SpLD APPG, Sharon has been elected as the new Chair of this influential cross-party group of MPs and Peers after the out-going Chair,...
Sharon has written a blog post for the Huffington Post regarding the Save Our Early Years Campaign and the need for action from the Government so that families don't suffer due to the Government's mismanagement of early's year provision, especially staffing of early year's settings and entry requirements to early years courses in the pipeline.
In her blog, Sharon sites about the issue of minimum entry requirements for access to Level 3 Early Years Education courses and how this is causing problems within the sector, especially in regards to the Government's plans on increasing free childcare for working parents, which will be hard to implement if the Government do not addressing staffing.
Sharon also calls on the new Education Secretary, Justine Greening MP, and new Childcare and Early Years Minister, Caroline Dinenage MP, to address the problems left over in the early years by their predecessors, and ensure the childcare and early years is properly staffed to deliver on important childcare support for parents.
You can read the blog here.
Sharon writes for Huffington Post supporting the Save Our Early Years Campaign
Sharon has written a blog post for the Huffington Post regarding the Save Our Early Years Campaign and the need for action from the Government so that families don't suffer...