Since my last roundup, many of the Coronavirus regulations have changed or been relaxed, and I know that like me, many of you will have enjoyed the chance to meet up with friends and family for the first time in many months over the summer, and enjoy the activities we have previously taken for granted. It’s important to acknowledge that these changes have only been possible because of the efforts we have all made with social distancing and respecting each other’s health. I would urge everyone to make sure they keep following the rules and stay up to date on regulations so that we can continue to tackle this virus together.
It was great to see students and teachers returning to school across Birmingham Ladywood this week. So much work has gone into preparing our schools and colleges for a safe return, and all those involved should be proud of their efforts. It was, however, worrying to see research from the National Foundation for Educational Research on Tuesday which showed a widening attainment gap, with pupils in deprived schools three times more likely to be four months behind in their studies than more affluent peers. Previous studies have found school closures may have widened the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates by up to 75 per cent, and that the largest gaps appear to be emerging between primary aged pupils.
I’m also incredibly concerned that many BTEC students have yet to receive their grades. BTECs provide a gateway for some of the most disadvantaged students to get into university, further study or the world of work. Half of the least well off students across England get into university alone with at least one vocational qualification. I know that these qualifications are crucial for many young people in Birmingham Ladywood and across our city. On Tuesday, I asked the Education Secretary what steps he is taking to make sure these students get their results as soon as possible. It has been a summer of incompetence on the part of this Government, with the results fiasco, failure to deliver promised summer catch up schemes and delays to the promised national tutoring programme. No child or young person must be left behind because of the failures of Boris Johnson and his team.
On Wednesday, the Government finally announced further information about the Kickstart Scheme, which will provide funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds. In July, there were over a million young people not in full-time education nor employment, accounting for one in six young people. But despite the scale of the jobs crisis facing young people there is still little detail on how the Kickstart scheme will work in practice, and the Labour Party are pushing for answers on crucial questions for the scheme’s success, demanding clarity for businesses and young people. In the House of Commons I also pressed the Work and Pensions Secretary for further information on how she will ensure that equality of access to the scheme is afforded to members of BAME communities in Birmingham Ladywood ad across the UK.
As many as you will know, one of my priorities over the past year has been supporting constituents affected by the cladding scandal. The Housing, Communities, and Local Government Select Committee’s have opened a call for evidence on the government’s new draft Building Safety Bill, and I would urge all Birmingham Ladywood constituents who have been affected by the cladding scandal to submit a response. The Bill in its current form does not deliver the changes and protections leaseholders with existing building safety issues need. It’s vital that you make your voice heard before this legislation is finalised. You can access the call for evidence here.
As ever, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0121 661 9440. My team and I are here to help!