Labour’s Lisa Forbes: Our children deserve better than this

Speaker's Corner columnists -  Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
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As a parent with school age children, I know I’m not alone in being angry when I read that year after year school standards and the achievements of children in Peterborough continues on its backwards trajectory.

This year was no different; Peterborough’s woes persisted as it slipped to bottom in the National League Table. The failure of our children and the outlook for them will continue to be bleak as long as Peterborough’s MP persists in scapegoating English as Second Language students for the appalling results and fails to acknowledge that it has anything to do with a lack of proper investment combined with high rates of deprivation and poverty in his constituency which are the real barriers to our children’s success.

We need to have an honest debate in this city about why we have hit rock bottom, instead of the same old tired yearly rhetoric of blame followed by promises of improvement that we are subject to every time the national results are published. It’s tedious, completely expected and has done absolutely nothing to reverse the downward spiral we’re stuck in and our children deserve better.

Rather than look to attribute blame on everyone and anything but themselves, or simply think that a question in Parliament is enough to say, ‘look, I’ve done something about this, I’ve asked a question’, I suggest a better use of time by the MP Stewart Jackson and his colleague Cllr John Holdich, who is the leader of the Conservative run administration in Peterborough and also the cabinet member for education, would be to organise an all-party working group. This should be run in conjunction with teachers and parents to investigate and get to the bottom of what is really needed to tackle the poor results in Peterborough and establish why we are doing worse than other authorities and what tangible steps can to be taken in order that the attainment of the children here can be improved upon and we have an education system in Peterborough that we can be proud of.

It is their responsibility as elected representatives to make sure children in this city are given a decent education in order to get on in life and anything less is an abdication of that responsibility. It wilfully ignores the huge challenges we face in order to reverse the declining standards and does absolutely nothing to address the true reasons we are at the bottom of National League Table. Until then, we will continue to live in a low skilled, low waged local economy that doesn’t attract business to invest in an area where the skills they need cannot be found in the numbers they require.

So instead of riding the storm every year and waiting until the media interest dies away, we should make sure that education continues to be a top priority to 
our MP and council leader and don’t stop shouting about it until they take it seriously and pull their fingers out.