Following my statement last week regarding the performance of schools in Yorkshire there has been much said in regional and local press about the matter. It seems that, as i suspected, i was right. I have spent the week lobbying our Member of Parliament, Jon Trickett, to back my call for the Government to introduce a ‘Yorkshire Challenge’ in line with the call by IPPR North for a similar concept, to bring the level of funding for Yorkshire children in line with those in London. This was a central part of Yorkshire Party policy in the previous general election. Jon Trickett should be no stranger to the method, after all it was his Labour national Government that introduced the ‘London Challenge‘ which saw levels of funding in London increase and the attainment of their children to improve massively. Despite my asking Jon many times to back the Yorkshire Party manifesto pledge he has remained silent on the matter.
My study into links between educational attainment and high levels of poor health, low wealth and low social mobility within our community clearly demonstrates that our schools and our children are being let down, despite the commendable hard work of our teachers, support staff, governors and many others. It is also clear that the issues facing our community have continued from the closure of the collieries despite decades of Labour led district, Parish and ward councils and a Labour MP sitting in the constituency. In a proud Labour heartland such as this, it is hard sometimes to point out where Labour have failed. But they have.
So, this week i have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening and the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner to ask for them to look over my study and to back our call for a ‘Yorkshire Challenge’. I have also contacted various other education professionals with a similar call for their backing. The letter is as follows:
Dear the Rt Hon Justine Greening,
I am writing to you regards the call of the Yorkshire Party for a ‘Yorkshire Challenge’ in line with the ‘Northern Premium’ called for by the respected think tank IPPR North. I know my community well and i know just how hard teachers, support staff, governors, parents, carers and many other people work to give children within the constituency the best possible chance. Let me make it perfectly clear that i wish to place on record my sincere thanks for their continued hard work. My community is a former coal mining area within the Hemsworth constituency, which has faced long term issues since the closure of the collieries that provided a source of employment for many of the residents.
To better understand my own community i recently took the time to compare many sources of information alongside education performance indicators and was shocked to find that there is clear evidence that poor academic attainment can be distinctly linked to poor health, unemployment and low social mobility. I have attached my small study within this email for your perusal, i am certain that you will find the results quite shocking. This also quite clearly ties in with IPPR North findings that schools in Yorkshire at all levels are behind those in London, where the funding per child, per academic year is evidently higher. This funding gap can, in part, trace it’s roots to the ‘London Challenge’ introduced by the Labour Government, which has proven to have turned around schools and indeed communities in London. My study also clearly demonstrates that the issues facing my community have continued to affect my fellow residents for decades, regardless of which of the ‘big three’ political parties have controlled national Government. Interestingly the constituency has had continuous Labour leadership at district level, ward and Parish level and also a Labour Member of Parliament, prior to the closure of the collieries and ever since. In my opinion this demonstrates that the community and our children have been let down at all levels and drastic intervention is needed.
With that in mind i am asking for you to back my own call and the call of the Yorkshire Party for the Government to introduce a ‘Yorkshire Challenge’ similar to the ‘London Challenge’ which will unlock the potential of Yorkshire’s children in communities such as my own, whose lives are being stunted by a lack of funding. Will you back the ‘Yorkshire Challenge’?