General Election 2019 - what would Peterborough candidates do to improve education

We asked candidates in Peterborough: The performance of some Peterborough schools and the city’s performance in national league tables has been a long-running concern... what do you think is needed to remedy this and how would you support it?

Sunday, 1st December 2019, 6:00 am

Tom Rogers, Christian Peoples Alliance

The greatest challenge that Peterborough schools have faced for the past decade is the very large proportion of children with English as a second language.

Our multicultural city is a blessing, but large migration needs to be well-managed, resourced and planned so that everyone’s needs are catered for, including with education. It is unrealistic to expect teachers to be able to cater effectively in most subjects for such wide differentiation in English skills.

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The general election takes place on December 12.

Aside from a few notable examples, schools have found it difficult to meet this challenge and there needs to be a more strategic approach across the city. A greater use of streaming and setting within certain schools is required, as well as separate provision where necessary to help bring English levels up to where integrated classes work better.

As your MP I would also fight for greater funding from central Government to help support these measures.

Too many children in too many schools also have their learning impaired on a daily basis due to regular disruption in the classroom. When some pupils, whose main talents lay elsewhere, are forced into rigid timetables of academic subjects, then frustration and behavioural problems inevitably ensue.

The CPA would create more flexibility and specialisation in the secondary system.

Whilst ensuring all children develop the best literacy and numeracy skills possible, it’s also right they have greater opportunity to pursue more learning in practical, vocational, technical, sporting or artistic areas that may make better use of their time, skills and talents.

Mike Greene, Brexit Party

“Putting Peterborough First” is my watchword.

This week we shared our contract with the people at not the normal manifesto of broken promises and lies that you’ve seen from political parties before.

We offer: Clean-Break Brexit – not the Tory, “Oven- ready, Bubble and Squeak” of May’s pre- ordered, grey Brussels-sprouts – however Chef Boris seasons it.

We will save £200billion to spend in the UK by Scrapping HS2; not paying the £39bn initial divorce cheque; getting £7bn back from the European Investment Bank – left there by Chancellor Hammond and by halving the £14.9bn foreign aid budget. Charity begins at home.

Business rates will go. And Inheritance Tax. VAT on fuel will reduce and companies will get a corporation tax cut. Food, footwear and clothing will be cheaper once we leave.

Police numbers will increase. And we will invest in the NHS, keeping it free at point of use and introduce 24 hour GP surgeries.

Our coast will be revitalised, with exclusive fishing of our waters returned to the UK – something that won’t happen without Brexit MPs.

Universal Credit will be reviewed within a year and reformed within two.

Student Loan interest charges will end. Real apprenticeship schemes will be born. On Schools, we will increase parental choice . On Housing, brownfield sites will have accelerated planning consent.

Affordable Homes must be built.

We believe in our military, spending at least 2% of GDP each year.

For my personal additional Peterborough pledges check out our Facebook page and/or follow us on twitter @mikegreenetbp

In Peterborough, Vote Mike Greene Brexit Party if you want to keep Westminster honest.

Beki Sellick, Liberal Democrats - To Stop Brexit

I think Peterborough schools need: money, reform and pre-school input.

1. Money. It’s cheap to put-down Peterborough schools, knocking hardworking staff and students, using national league tables. Cheap and wrong. As I said on BBC-TV Sunday Politics: fundamentally, our schools have less money.

LibDems would reverse cuts to school funding, allocating £10billion of the #RemainBonus from stopping Brexit. Schools could then employ an extra 20,000 teachers and reduce class sizes. Small classes particularly help children who are struggling to achieve their potential. We would invest in teachers: raising starting salaries to £30k; increasing pay 3 per cent annually; and guaranteeing professional development.

2. Reform. SATs and exams put too much pressure on young children and help produce teenagers with the worst mental health in Europe. LibDems would scrap SATs and measure what really matters in our lives: not just academic performance, but skills like critical thinking, verbal reasoning and creativity, alongside the wellbeing of pupils and teachers.

3. Pre-school. LibDems would deliver free high-quality childcare from age 9-months for the children of working parents, and for all children aged two to four. The United Nations found increasing child poverty here: under-nourished children cannot learn properly. We would invest in Children’s Centres to support disadvantaged children and extend free school meals to all primary age.

When I spoke at Ken Stimpson school last week, staff and students appreciated my integrity. Our manifesto costing is online and FullFact says our promises are reasonable.

As MP, I will support schools so every child, every person can thrive.

Luke Ferguson, Independent

Whilst out on the campaign trail, one Peterborough constituent who works in education told me that politicians should go back to school and learn how to listen. So that’s what I did, I listened to friends, family and constituents who work in education, both face to face and on social media, for their opinions and ideas.

Some of the comments were, “it isn’t working as it should, English schools are lagging far behind the rest of the world, schools are stuck in the past because of lack of resources, schools need to be making use of digital tools and appraising SEN students in a more appropriate fashion.”

Children deserve so much better than this - So what can we do about it? Funding is obviously a key issue. And, there should be more money for our pupils and teachers alike. However, millions of pounds being thrown at the challenge won’t solve anything without the right solutions.

We need to listen to the people on the ground - not the heads of services at local councils or politicians in Westminster. We need a solution for Peterborough. Designed by Peterborough. 

So I will establish our Peterborough Education Group, made up of parents, teachers, staff and pupils. This team will debate, create ideas and find solutions.

This group will form part of our Citizens Assembly. Which will shape how I act and vote in Parliament.

Paul Bristow, Conservative Party

I went to Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey. It was and is a decent local school. But if we are honest, ordinary - or even good - is not good enough.

Peterborough’s schools can be better. Local standards must improve. That’s why I brought the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, to a special summit at Peterborough Town Hall last month.

The good news is that more money is on its way for every pupil in every school. Our primary schools will get a minimum of £4,000 per pupil and our secondary schools will get £5,000 per pupil. This will allow local headteachers to target better results.

I also know the importance of improving discipline. We need to support teachers and reduce the disruption for other children, which stops them performing.

Likewise, support for children with special educational needs really matters. The extra £780 million for SEN and disabilities will make a difference to improving outcomes.

Sadly, some are focused on ideology. Labour want to abolish the tests that monitor children’s progress and abolish Ofsted, which inspects our schools. They want to abolish academies and free schools. They even want to abolish private schools, despite local Labour councillors sending their own children to them.

We need to focus on what works, not damaging nonsense. Every child deserves the best possible start in life. And parents need a choice of good school places, rather than having to settle for what they can get.

Joseph Wells, Green Party

As a Green MP I would make it my top priority to overcome years of neglect and make Peterborough a learning city, developing the talents and raising the ambitions of all our young people.

At a good school, children gain the basic tools for life and work. The Green Party believes that investment in education comes before irresponsible tax cuts. But more fundamental than the size of the education budget is the scale of our ambitions for change. We believe in forging a national purpose for rapid and radical improvement in our schools, colleges and universities. We believe that children should be interested in and learn the skills that give them the best start in their adult life.

To do this, we would move children and teachers away from the pressures of early-age testing, league tables and Ofsted inspections and more towards local control and the ability to choose from a wide range of subjects that are beneficial for later life. More support for the basics, targeted at pupils who arrive at secondary school at risk of falling behind, and also concentrating on new opportunities to meet the needs of pupils who deserve much better pathways to apprenticeships and employment after leaving school. We believe there is no greater ambition for Peterborough than to see a steadily rising proportion gain the huge benefits of a good school education.

Lisa Forbes, Labour Party

Parents across Peterborough have real concerns about their children’s future. Presently, many of our children are unable to reach their full potential due to constant government cutbacks.

Our poor performance in national league tables has been widely reported for years now and it’s high time real changes are made to rebuild the education system in Peterborough.

As a local Mum myself, I’m appalled at the way Conservative and Liberal Democrat governments have stripped back funding over the last decade. Some schools locally have lost almost £500 per pupil, with Peterborough schools set to face a further funding shortfall of almost £5m next year. The remedy is simple, we need to reverse the school cuts that hold our children back. A budget increase alongside fairer funding will mean that schools in Peterborough won’t just survive but begin to thrive.Don’t just take my word for it, take the word of our hard-working teachers, a survey of 11,000 teachers found that 45% of them believe that Labour has the best policies on education compared to just 11% for the Conservatives. The government will probably offer more false promises about school funding, but the truth is that they have failed our children, our parents and schools for the last decade. They just can’t be trusted with our children’s education. Only Labour is committed to investing in children to fix our broken education system and give it the investment it deserves to ensure every child in Peterborough has the opportunities to thrive and succeed.