City MP welcomes plans to scrap testing of children

City MP welcomes plans to scrap testing of children

Welcoming news that Labour in government will abolish Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs and develop a new assessment system that will have fairer, broader, more useful measures of attainment, Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:
Our school children are among the most tested in the world, and are subject to particularly high-stress and high-stakes assessments early in their education. 
The use of these tests puts pressure on schools to narrow the curriculum, focusing on a narrower range of subjects, and an even narrower area within them in order to “teach to the test.” This puts huge pressure on pupils, and is detrimental to their education. Instead of gaining the knowledge and skills they need for both the rest of their education and life beyond it, they are simply learning how to pass a specific test.
Specifically I’m concerned the current system particularly disadvantages children from poorer backgrounds in our city.
That’s why I welcome Labour’s plan to abolish KS1 and KS2 SATs, as well an abandoning the government’s plans to roll-out baseline assessment in reception.
Consulting with the teaching profession, parents, and other stakeholders to develop a new, fairer, broader, and more useful system of primary assessments the right thing to do.
We must ensure a new system encourages teaching a broad and balanced curriculum, trusting teachers as professionals.
I have very confidence approach will reduce pressure on children in our city while supporting Portsmouth schools in teaching a broad curriculum, and give young people the knowledge and skills they will need throughout their lives, while reducing the attainment gap”.
The MP regularly visits Portsmouth schools and colleges to meet with teaching staff and heads.
His ‘Portsmouth Against School Cuts’ campaign has involved surveying all schools in the constituency and bringing local headteacher reps to Parliament to lobby Ministers for proper funding for city schools.
Local campaigner and City MP join forces over road safety in Old Portsmouth

Local campaigner and City MP join forces over road safety in Old Portsmouth

Portsmouth Labour are campaigning with residents in Old Portsmouth to improve road safety in the area and calling on the council to install a new zebra crossing.

Working with local election candidate Sumel Chowdhury, Stephen Morgan MP has been hearing concerns from residents and community groups in Old Portsmouth about the need to improve road safety in the area.

Taking a number of actions, Mr Chowdhury has set up a petition to lobby the council, written to local residents, organised a street stall to hear views and ideas, and called on city MP Stephen Morgan for support.

Issues being raised with campaigners include the speeding of vehicles along the High Street and at the junction with Pembroke and Lombard Street and the need for improved crossing facilities for local shops, St Jude’s School and the Cathedral.

Backing Sumel’s campaign, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I am grateful to Sumel for setting up a community petition to the council to ensure they take action and to understand the strength of feeling on this issue.

I thank Sumel for his hard work and for standing up for residents in Old Portsmouth.

Sharing his, and other local people’s concerns, I have now written to the city council’s director for transport instructing the local authority to undertake a road safety survey and feasibility study for a zebra crossing in the area.

I urge others to get involved with this campaign by signing Sumel’s petition to call on the council to listen to our demands and improve road safety in Old Portsmouth”.

Portsmouth MP takes a leap in the name of local tourism

Portsmouth MP takes a leap in the name of local tourism

On Saturday morning in support of efforts to support local attractions and English Tourism Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan took take part in ‘The Drop’ at Spinnaker Tower.

Following a 100-step ascent, the Portsmouth born MP jumped from a platform 25 meters above sea level onto a target below.

The Portsmouth South MP took the leap after the reopening of The Drop last weekend for the summer season and following the recent English Tourism Week, a campaign designed to generate support for local attractions.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It was fantastic to use some of holiday time to help promote local attractions in our city. There’s so much to offer Portsmouth’s families on our doorstep – as local people we often take for granted what’s available to us during downtime.

I was dared by the brilliant team at Spinnaker to take ‘The Drop’ to help raise awareness of the fantastic attractions that Portsmouth has to offer and couldn’t resist the opportunity with family on a day off.

With crowd-pleasers varying from the historic Mary Rose to iconic Spinnaker Tower, it is no wonder our great city draws people from both within our shores and internationally, and why tourism creates so many jobs and generates over £600m to our city’s economy.

English Tourism Week was an excellent opportunity to showcase the visitor experiences on offer nationally. This Easter, I encourage other Portsmouth families to take advantage of what we have available for us locally.”

Tony Sammut, General Manager at Emirates Spinnaker Tower added:

“It’s great to have our local MP trying out our latest adrenaline experience at the Tower.

We are always trying to think of new and fresh ideas to keep the Tower a fun and interesting place to visit.”

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Mr. Morgan has for some time championed the city’s tourism industry and rich cultural and creative sector. He is the patron of the National Royal Marines Museum bid for a new Royal Marines Museum.

 

 

Portsmouth MP continues to put pressure on Government Minister over veteran suicide

Portsmouth MP continues to put pressure on Government Minister over veteran suicide

Following the Westminster Hall debate he hosted last week, Stephen Morgan MP has again called on the Government to do more for our veterans

Whilst the Westminster Hall debate provided Members of Parliament from across the House of Commons with the opportunity to scrutinise the MoD Minister and raise key issues, city MP Stephen Morgan has chosen to maintain pressure on the

Government by writing to the Minister responsible to reiterate the key points of the debate and ask for more comprehensive answers. 

Stephen Morgan MP:

“It is integral that we continue to put pressure on the Government to implement the changes essential to safeguarding our veterans.

It is important that this campaign does not lose impetus and the Government is aware that we will not cease our calls for improvements”. 

A key theme that came from the Westminster Hall debate was the need for the Government to join our allies across the world and begin collecting data on the number of veterans who take their own lives.

This recording of data is essential as without a quantifiable number, the scale of the problem is not known. All Call Signs, a major veteran’s support group who attended the debate, senior military figures and those within the Health Department support this notion. 

In response to Mr Morgan opening the debate by calling on the Government to begin recording veteran suicide, the Minister agreed that “We need to collect data” and that “Data is critical”. However, sadly he made no solid commitments to implementing this as policy and responded by saying that he cannot make coroners record this data as there are “fiercely independent”.

In response to this lack of commitment, Mr Morgan said:

“All Call Signs, Combat Stress, the Health Minister, the former head of the armed forces, the former commander in Afghanistan and many more have all called for the government to start recording veteran suicide. During the debate, the Minister himself conceded its importance, what he did not do is commit to a plan to implement these changes.

I do not believe blaming the autonomy of coroners as the reason for a lack of progression is constructive to this campaign. That is why in my letter to the Minister, I have asked that we work together, cross-party to make legislative changes so that these improvements can be implemented before we lose more brave ex-service personnel.”

During the debate, the Minister and others from his party expressed that suicide is less common in the veteran community. This notion is heavily disputed by experts such as All Call Signs who have raised the fact that it contradicts data from Britain’s allies. The data that this assumption has stemmed from is also highly compromised, issues that Mr Morgan specifically raised in this week’s correspondence with the Minister.

The Portsmouth MP added:

“With the support of veterans’ charities and experts from across the sector, I have called on the Minister to stop pedalling the problematic and compromised idea that suicide is lower amongst the veteran population. 

The data set he has extracted this position from is undermined by the fact that it is based on less than 6000 participants. The participants were also not veterans but rather serving personnel and their response was that approximately 80% of them had experienced a mental health issue.

What we need to see is solid, indisputable data rather than assumptions drawn from guesswork.”

Other key points raised in the MP’s letter responded to the Minister’s choice to bring up The Veterans Gateway, an online resource for veterans, in his closing speech. The Minister spoke of the proficiency of the online resource but veterans themselves have expressed opinions to the contrary.

On Veterans Gateway, All Call Signs, an organisation made up of veterans said:

“Often, The Veterans Gateway make recommendations and only upon following them, does the individual learn that they don’t qualify for the treatment they have been told about. This leaves them despondent and unwilling to reach out again.”

Stephen Morgan MP is committed to raising this issue through any mediums possible until the end goal of getting the Government to begin recording veteran suicide is reached.

Mr Morgan’s letter comes a week after the debate he hosted on the topic and he has expressed that this is just a small part of the intended work that he plans to do.

 

City MP backs Hope Virgo’s Dump the Scales campaign

Over a million people in the country have suffered from Eating Disorders at some point in their life, but many are not properly diagnosed because they are told by GPs that they are not underweight or overweight enough. This only makes the problem worse

The Dump The Scales campaign started following Hope Virgo’s experience of being turned away from services for not being “thin” enough. This didn’t just happen to Hope but happens to hundreds of people weekly across the NHS. The campaign is calling on the government to implement the NICE Guidelines around the diagnosis of Eating Disorders, and therefore to not measure the BMI of those seeking treatment.

Hope Virgo who started the #DumpTheScales campaign said: “I am so excited that we have cross party support coming forward to raise awareness of eating disorders. People with eating disorders are getting an unfair deal in society. It is not right that people are turned away from support because of their BMI. This was devastating to me when I relapsed from anorexia and it happens every day to thousands of people, leaving them feeling suicidal, alone and without help. It isn’t right that we live in a society which is so fixated on weight and BMI. Eating disorders are not about weight and therefore should not be judged on this.”

Turning someone away from treatment not only impacts the person suffering but also those around them. The symptoms have long term impacts on the individual impacting all aspects of life which means that businesses are also effected. 

Investing in early intervention and prevention is essential to individuals having long lasting recovery.

Hope Virgo said:

“There is a disconnect between the NHS England guidelines, that say BMI should not be relied on to diagnose eating disorders, and the experience of people in surgeries across the country. I’m glad that Stephen Morgan MP is taking action in Parliament.”

Rachel Morris MBE said:

“It is vital we start changing the way we see people specifically young people who have so many new pressures put on given and turn that against themselves.

Being part of Dump The Scales is something I am very passionate about, partly as someone who has struggled with both anorexia and bulimia and now as I am working with more mental health in young people and adults I am seeing ‘below the tip of the ice berg’ as people open up to me.

It is so important to support people early on in the illness and that not being done through a number”

Stephen Morgan MP said:

We need to ensure that those with eating disorders get a fair deal in society. The stories that are emerging of people being turned away from treatment centres are a testament to the fact that we need to proliferate better understanding of eating disorders.

Waiting for people to hit crisis point is counterproductive and the government needs to amend its guidance given to clinicians. We need to see a more encompassing approach so that people aren’t let down. Dump the Scales is a pioneering campaign that is drawing the Government’s attention to this valid cause.

I thank constituents who have been in touch with me about these important matters. I will continue to raise concerns from Portsmouth in Parliament”.

You can sign the petition https://www.change.org/p/eating-disorders-are-not-just-about-weight-dumpthescales

Pressure mounts on Government to act over Portsmouth school funding

Pressure mounts on Government to act over Portsmouth school funding

City MP, Labour councillors and community campaigners have today written to the Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds MP calling on the Government to reserve cuts to Portsmouth schools and properly invest in education in the city 

Action comes following Stephen Morgan MP’s efforts locally and with the National Education Union’s Councillor Network. Earlier this week the Portsmouth MP joined local government leaders from across the country and Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NEU in hand delivering a similar letter with over 1,000 from all parts of the country.

The letter from Portsmouth has been signed by representatives from all parts of the city, recognising that city schools are set to lose £3.7m in the coming years affecting 50 schools across Portsmouth.

The letter states:

Across the country, our excellent state-funded schools have lost out in billions of pounds in funding since 2015. The IFS has equated this to an 8 per cent cut per pupil in real terms, since 2010… 

Many schools and colleges in our city are now desperately overwhelmed, as more and more students are competing for fewer and fewer resources”.

Campaigners are calling for the Government to address the funding crisis in the forthcoming Spending Review by reserving cuts to city school budgets, raising the rate for colleges and properly funding schools and special educational needs and disabilities provision.

City Labour Leader, Stephen Morgan MP said:

I welcome the support of Labour councillors and community campaigners in the Portsmouth Against School Cuts campaign.

Children in our city only have one chance to go through the school system. By cutting funding in Portsmouth the Government is failing our children. 

I hope this letter, and the other actions we are taking, will ensure the Secretary of State will finally change course and give our city’s schools and colleges, education professionals and students the proper funding they need”.

 

 

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