Globalisation has had its benefits. It is now easier than ever to communicate with the other side of the world. I can order a package from Australia and have it delivered in just a few days, writes leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council Cllr Shaz Nawaz.
However, there are downsides: manufacturing jobs are under pressure. It also means that every child is growing up not just competing with their local peers for opportunities; they’re facing challenges from every corner of the world.
Some may think the only way to help our young people is to build new walls to protect them: this seems an odd idea in a world where data flows in an endless cascade over any barrier. Some may blame the presence of migrants: but Peterborough is not alone in having a substantial number of newcomers, yet other cities seem to cope far better. Truly, the only way to ensure that our children get the best possible start in life is to give them a good education, so they have the skills to cope with our endlessly changing world.
Sadly, Peterborough isn’t providing this, despite the best efforts of our talented teachers and students. The facts are stark. We’re second bottom in SATs. We’re in the bottom quartile for GCSE results; improvements are only happening slowly, if at all. The first step to achieve an acceleration in our progress is we need to raise aspirations; this applies both to our parents and our children.
We need to provide better resources for our teachers and schools: only a Labour government can do this. Class sizes are too big: studies indicate that smaller class sizes are vital to ensure that children get the individual attention they need.
Also, we need better working conditions for teachers. They’re under a lot of stress at the moment: many of them are struggling to cope with the workload they have. There are cases of teachers buying supplies for their pupils out of their own (already stretched) salaries. Furthermore, schools need more support workers and the space to provide better communication and contact with families
I want to re-emphasise: our brilliant teachers are doing the best they can under the present circumstances. We should all applaud them for doing such a great job under such straitened conditions. We should support them by getting the community more involved. This includes civic leaders: we should all be talking up the benefits of a good education to children. By civic leaders, I also mean that we should get businesses and professionals involved so they can inspire our children; they should also be invited to contribute equipment and provide mentoring.
These proposals are only the start: we need to leave no stone unturned in finding solutions.
Yes, the local authority is facing into a challenging budget environment, but this is no excuse to limit its ambitions. On the contrary, it needs to be creative and to above all, keep trying; our children deserve no less.