I am passionate about education it really can transform lives and create opportunities. That is why I have campaigned for more money for our schools for years - even before I was an MP and years before I had the privilege of being appointed as an education Minister. I have listened to parents and teachers and the key reason I have pushed on this is because I really do believe that education can act as the ‘door’ to opportunities and that it is my job as your local MP to ‘unlock that door.’ In fact this was the subject of my first ever speech in Parliament.
We used an out dated school funding formula for too long in the UK and so areas like Wiltshire did not get their fair share which let down our young people. We now have a fairer national funding formula and have put more money into the pot as well. I was so delighted when the government recently announced an extra £14 billion into our schools over three years. We have subsequently learnt that this will mean schools in Wiltshire will get 5.3% more per pupil next year, a total of £15.5m of additional funding (subject to changes in pupil numbers). This will make a big difference.
In Wiltshire all primary schools will see per-pupil funding increase to a minimum of £3,750 next year. In addition, all secondary schools will see per-pupil funding increase to a minimum of £5,000 next year. This will ensure we have the funds necessary to ‘open the doors’ for all your children and retain the level of quality that we have in our local education system.
A topic many parents have raised with me is the ability and resource to meet the growing needs of SEND children. The provisional allocation of high needs funding (which includes SEND) is £51.3m for Wiltshire next year which is 8.2% per head more than this year. This will reduce pressures but the answer is not just money alone so we are conducting a thorough review into our SEND provision. As the Minsiter responsible for this area I want to ensure that the system is geared up to achieve the best outcomes for SEND children and is working for them.
On Friday I visited Hardenhuish School, Chippenham to chat to the teachers and pupils about the increase along with some other topics. The school is attracting £6,195,000 in total next year (based on current pupil numbers), or £5,000 per pupil – that reflects an increase of 4.25% in pupil-led funding compared to last year. They welcomed the additional money which will make a real difference.
I have been out and about and hosting events around the constituency recently but given the importance of this additional money into education I wanted to use this space to highlight it. If you want to stay up to date with my work you can sign up to my e news [link removed]
Ps I am organising a ’curry fundraiser’ on the Sunday 3rd November for Wiltshire Mind at The Raj, Chippenham. Wiltshire Mind is a local independent Mental Health Charity based in Melksham. They are a voluntary organisation affiliated to Mind and do such amazing work supporting people across the county. Tickets cost £20 for a drink plus 4 curries, naan and rice between 2. To buy your tickets email [email protected] or call 01249 704 465
I have never been so disappointed with Parliament and some of my fellow MPs. 😡 With a hung parliament we need some opposition MPs to honour the result of the referendum and vote 🗳 for Brexit like the people did!
MPs insisted on a meaningful vote, and yes, some on Saturday voted to make that vote meaningless. The Liberal Democrat’s even stood up demanding a people’s vote despite the fact their policy is to revoke no matter the result of a second referendum.
The uncertainty is damaging UK business and putting jobs at risks. We have a strong PM and he will ensure we deliver Brexit as will I. Democracy only works when politicians listen!
Enough is enough let’s #GetBrexitDone #democracy ([link removed]) .
Put simply, the new deal means:
1. Britain is out of all EU laws. We will be able to change our laws in a huge number of areas – from product standards to fishing rules to farming subsidies – where we are currently bound by EU rules.
2. We will be able to strike our own free trade deals. We will have an unqualified right to strike our own trade deals around the world, and the whole UK will participate in them.
3. European Court supremacy ends in Britain. It will be our courts, applying our laws, which will be the highest authority in the land.
4. We will be in control of our taxes. We will be able to change VAT rules and other tax laws that are currently determined by Brussels.
5. Northern Ireland will be in the UK customs territory forever. There is now no doubt that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK’s customs territory and will benefit from the free trade deals we strike.
6. The backstop has been abolished. The people of Northern Ireland will be in charge of the laws that they live by, and – unlike the backstop – will have the right to end the special arrangement if they so choose.
Last week I was really pleased to return to the Cereal Partners Factory in Staverton to meet Nestlé UK and Ireland’s CEO Stefano Agostini. There has been a factory of one nature or other on this sight since the early 1800’s employing local people. The site in Staverton is about to become the Nestles UK and European centre for research and development with one other centre in Minneapolis in the USA. This will bring 20 further skilled jobs to the area.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. I know Cereal Partners UK have worked hard to ensure their cereals are healthier and more nutritious, removing over 517 million teaspoons of sugar from their cereals. They produce some of the country’s best known cereals from the factory at Staverton, which are on breakfast tables all up and down the UK and are part of many free breakfast club initiatives. They are also very aware of the need for sustainability and will only produce 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. Thank you for having me to see where the "nanas knit the shreddies!"
I am organising a ’curry fundraiser’ on the Sunday 3rd November for Wiltshire Mind at The Raj, Chippenham. Wiltshire Mind is a local independent Mental Health Charity based in Melksham. They are a voluntary organisation affiliated to Mind and do such amazing work supporting people across the county. Tickets cost £20 for a drink plus 4 curries, naan and rice between 2. To buy your tickets email [email protected] or call 01249 704 465
Last week I received my personalised tree that volunteers had lefts outside Parliament. Regardless of whether I agree with the tactics of the climate protests taking place in London, we can all agree that it is right to make steps toward making the UK a greener and cleaner place by planting trees.
There is still no technology that can rival trees when it comes to capturing carbon in the atmosphere, so by planting more we will not only make the UK an even more beautiful place but we will also come a step closer to being carbon neutral having been the first major country in the world to make the 2050 net-zero pledge.
Having been one of the MPs who supported the commitment to create an England Tree Strategy, I have been hugely encouraged by plans currently underway which will see the Government plant 11 million trees by the end of this Parliament, on top of a further 1 million urban trees. I have also been a supporter of the plans to build a new 'Northern Forest' along the M62 corridor with the aim to plant over 50 million trees over the next 25 years.
So I will be doing my bit by taking my lovely young Hornbeam tree on the train back with me to Chippenham constituency and planting it.
Recently I enjoyed attending a Charter Lunch to celebrate 45 years of Melksham Lions. Melksham Lions are part of the Lions Club International and are dedicated to community service. They raise incredible sums of money through hard work and determination and play a crucial role in our community - and you can be sure to see them at any event around the town. Well done to all those who are and have been a member over the last 45 years and thus have played a pivotal role in keeping the club going. It can be so hard keeping local organisations going when we have such a wonderful array of them vying for local people’s time.
The other day I once again visited Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems in Melksham where I have been a frequent visitor over the years. The message was clear, we need to get Brexit done to provide businesses like Knorr-Bremse with stability, confidence and the ability to plan longer term. MPs from all sides are now coming to together to unite behind the deal and I look forward to the EU doing the same so we can get Brexit done. I am committed to delivering Brexit and honouring the referendum result. We must leave which will enable business to make decisions, plan and invest.
Last week was National Adoption Week. A time to celebrate and thank all those amazing people that provide stability, love and permanence to some of our most vulnerable children.
On Friday I visited Adoption West Regional Adoption Agency which launched in March this year. It provides adoption services for the region including Wiltshire.
I met with local adopters and social workers. We discussed The Adoption Support Fund and they welcomed the announcement this week that the fund will continue next year (20-21). We also discussed the current support in our schools - we introduced some improvements last year through the local authority “Virtual School Head” and designated teacher roles. We discussed how we can build on this. Thank you to everyone who adopts a child - you transform lives!
Earlier this week, I spoke for the first time at the House of Commons dispatch box in an important adjournment debate on unregulated accommodation, as the newly appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education.
In my speech, I made it absolutely clear that it is completely unacceptable for a child to be placed in a setting that does not meet their needs and keep them safe.
As one of my first acts as a Minister, I announced the investment of £84 million over five years to support 18 local authorities as part of the strengthening families programme. This is on top of the £200 million children’s social care innovation programme which is already kick starting the reform in the system we need.
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