Kevin Brennan MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, commenting on the final Ofqual report into the GCSE English fiasco today said:
“Pupils shouldn’t be punished for this shambles. Michael Gove and David Cameron look utterly incompetent and out of touch. This GCSE fiasco has dragged on for months, with thousands of pupils being left on the scrapheap.
“The Government has the power to sort this out – as has already happened in Wales. Now pupils and teachers are being forced to go to the courts to seek justice – that is ridiculous.
“We need for these exams to be regraded and for a full, independent inquiry into Michael Gove’s GCSE fiasco.”
“Cutting programmes for some of the most vulnerable children just shows that Michael Gove is extreme and out of touch”
Tories attack Early Intervention Services, as Government slashes budget by £639m in just one year
This year, the Tory-led Government is taking £639m out of the budget which funds early intervention services to help families get the support they need early on, Labour reveals today. The ‘Early Intervention Grant’ budget funds services such as Sure Start children’s centres, parental support, early intervention programmes, targeted support for vulnerable young people, targeted mental health programmes for schools and short breaks for disabled people.
Even the Conservatives’ own local government leader has said the move is “counter-productive” as not only will it hit vulnerable families, it will also end up costing the tax payer more in the long term as it will increase demand for “lifelong interventions”. The Department for Education’s own website says, “Intervening early is the best way of preventing bigger and more expensive problems later on”.
The current in year budget (2012/13) for the Early Intervention Grant (EIG) is £2.365 billion. The new budget, part of business rates funding given to councils will be £1.726 billion in 2013/4, a cut of £639m or 27%.
The EIG is being abolished just two years after Ministers set it up. From 2013/14, EIG will no longer exist and it will be incorporated into the business rates baseline. The budget will further fall by another £94 million in 2014/15 to £1.632 billion.
These changes were sneaked out over the summer in a technical consultation on business rates and the Local Government Association (LGA) confirms this in a briefing document.
£150 million is also being top-sliced in each of both 2013/14 and 2014/15 by the Department for Education, “to be retained for central purposes”. This equates to £1m being cut from early intervention services in every community across England.
The news comes despite the Education Secretary Michael Gove trying to claim last week the Government is focussed on early intervention: “there are significant numbers of children who, because of their home environment arrive at school simply incapable of learning…there are a group of children for whom the state has to intervene because they will grow up in circumstances so chaotic that it’s not just a case that they are neglected, it is the case that they are actively harmed by the failure to be in a nurturing environment.”
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, today raising this in the House of Commons during Education Questions, said:
“Even a Conservative councillor described the Government’s approach on this as “typical smoke and mirrors”. And we’ve heard typical smoke and mirrors again from the Secretary of State today if we compare like with like.
“The figures in the Government’s own consultation showed that the cut would be from the £2.3bn figure that the Secretary of State has just given us, to £1.72bn next year – a cut of 27%. Shouldn’t the Secretary of State be honest and listen to Merrick Cockell the Conservative leader of the Local Government Association who made a very clear point last week ‘this move … will force local authorities to cut early intervention services even further’.”
Stephen Twigg added:
“It’s clear that Michael Gove’s figures don’t add up. Cutting programmes for some of the most vulnerable children just shows that Michael Gove is extreme and out of touch.”
Cllr Merrick Cockell, Conservative Leader of the LGA wrote to Michael Gove, saying:
“We are very anxious to understand how the money withheld will be used, as it is funding for frontline services for vulnerable children, in an extremely tight financial environment. As you know, Early Intervention Grant already represented a substantial cash cut compared to the sources of funding it replaced; the additional £150m top-slice appears to suggest the government wants to see a further reduction of around £1m by each council in early support to children, young people and families that need it most.”
“I fear this move is counter-productive because it will force local authorities to cut early intervention services even further which will inevitably lead to increased demand for more costly longer-term/lifelong interventions.
“When combined with removing the money for expansion of provision for two year olds into the ringfenced Dedicated Schools Grant, this constitutes a fall in non-ringfenced resources of 27%. Removing local authorities freedom to allocate funding inevitably means greater pressures on other services.”
Cllr Paul McLain, the Conservative Deputy Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said:
“All councils thought this was new money from the Government to do this, but what it appears to be is typical smoke and mirrors. What appears to be the case, because nobody knows and that is why we are asking the PM, is that the money appears to be coming out of all of our existing pots of money.
“It appears that all of the funding for nursery education would have to come out of our Early Intervention Grant. If we lose the full £6 million [allocated to Gloucestershire] we will have to have a long and hard look and I can’t believe that we will be able to continue doing everything that we have committed to.”
Graham Allen, the MP for Nottingham North who produced a report for the Prime Minister on early intervention, has said these cuts fly in the face of ministerial promises:
“At a moment when political commitment and momentum is swinging behind early intervention … such a move would not only be economic folly but would fly in the face of the express political position to build up early intervention.”
Kevin Brennan MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, commenting on the Government’s announcements on trainee teacher tests, said:
“Labour supports efforts to raise the quality but also the status of teachers, but other measures are needed. We need more high flying applicants, and Labour has set out plans through our New Deal for Teachers to expand schemes like Teach First, improve training and on the job development and incentivise bright graduates to teach in less well off communities.
“However, the Government continues to insult teachers and damage morale with its extreme policies and out of touch rhetoric. Michael Gove called teachers “whingers” and 10,000 teachers have left the profession. That is putting school standards at risk.”
Unacceptable that teachers, parents and pupils have to resort to the courts to get fair GCSE grades – Twigg
A coalition of around 300 claimants, including many schools and local authorities, being led by Lewisham Council is today submitting papers for Judicial Review into the GCSE English fiasco.
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, commenting on the start of legal action into the GCSE English fiasco, today said:
“This exam shambles has gone on far too long. It is completely unacceptable that those representing teachers, parents and pupils have to resort to the courts to get fair GCSE grades.
“Michael Gove looks completely out of touch. He has held back thousands of young people who just want the opportunity to carry on their studies.
“The Education Secretary has the power to sort out this mess. But while there has been justice in Wales, pupils in England are still being punished. Labour will continue to support the fight for a regrade and a full independent inquiry into Michael Gove’s GCSE fiasco.”
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference, today said:
“I want to talk today about child safeguarding, something which has been at the forefront of our minds, given the horrific revelations about Jimmy Savile. The terrible truth is that the claims that something like this couldn’t happen today don’t stand up to scrutiny. Recent child abuse cases, like in Rochdale, show how power relationships are still exploited, and young people, particularly girls, are too often ignored when they come forward. It’s why an independent, judge-led inquiry into the Savile case is essential, not just for the victims, but to ensure mistakes are not repeated.
“I know that Tim Loughton, the former Children’s minister, made proposals to change the regulation of children and young people working in the entertainment industry back in May. As he told the BBC last week and a national newspaper today, those changes were not taken forward by the Secretary of State, and he now plans to bring forward legislation as a backbencher. I want to examine the exact details of Tim Loughton’s proposed Private Member’s Bill. But there is a clear need to ensure that the regulations which govern children and young people working in the media and entertainment industry are fit for purpose. They have not been substantially updated in 40 years, and following the review by Sarah Thane in 2010, there is a need for urgent action. She made a number of recommendations, including improving the quality of education for child performers and improving the chaperone role, recognising its important safeguarding responsibility.
“So I am today announcing that Labour is prepared to work on a cross party basis, with both Government and other backbench MPs as necessary to develop appropriate measures to protect young people working in those industries. We will consult with the media and entertainment industries and with local authorities to ensure we get this right, but it must be a priority.”