Eight Steps

My attention has been drawn to the National Union of Teachers’s Eight Steps. These are:

• Reform accountability so it is based on trust
• Introduce fundamental change to requirements relating to marking, planning, data, meetings and observations
• Allow time for curriculum and SEN reform
• Reform the teacher pay system
• Require schools to adopt a binding work-life balance policy
• Measure workload every year
• Set targets to reduce workload and introduce limits
• Increase teacher numbers to improve education

The key to a truly egalitarian society is education, and if we are ever to give everyone a level playing field at the start of their lives then we have to have an education system that works for everyone. Unfortunately, we have an education system that works very well for a minority, and is struggling for everyone else. For a good example see my own borough.

It is not just about the types of school, and their funding, it is also about supporting the educators. Overworked teachers are not effective teachers, neither are demoralised ones.

Dave Alston for Belfairs

Dave Alston has been selected as the Labour Party candidate for Belfairs ward in May’s local elections. Dave is up against the defending Conservative councillor, Lesley Salter.

Free girls football training

I am always happy to encourage girls football. The following email dropped into my inbox earlier today:

I am trying to promote girls and ladies football in your community for all ages. I am working on behalf of Trinity Youth Football Club based at Garons Park behind Kids Kingdom.
6 months ago Trinity Youth set up a development academy for girls of all ages and are hoping getting teams out for the new season in September. Trinity Youth already have an U16 girl’s team competing and over 20 primary school girls training every Saturday. All training sessions, tournaments and friendlies are FREE of charge. All the coaches are qualified, DBS checked and very friendly with a lot of patience.
I have attached a flyer to this email, is it possible you can promote Trinity Youth development by forwarding this email with the attachment to all your members.
If you would like to know more, please contact me.
Daniel Moores
FA Inclusion Advisory & Child Welfare Officer

The latest polls: think what you like of Labour and the Conservatives, you know what you get with them

Here is a summary of some of the latest opinion polls, a timely remember with ten weeks to go of where we are.

The headlines are that little has changed. But, there are some small movements, and the table below shows both the recent polls, and the averages when I last looked [] at this.

Con Lab LD UKIP Grn
14 February 2015 Populus 31 33 10 15 5
15 February 2015 Ashcroft 30 31 9 16 8
15 February 2015 ICM 36 32 10 9 7
16 February 2015 TNX BMRB 28 35 6 18 7
19 February 2015 Populus 31 32 9 17 6
21 February 2015 Opinium 35 33 6 15 7
21 February 2015 YouGov 33 34 8 13 6
23 February 2015 Populus 32 32 9 15 6
23 February 2015 Ashcroft 32 36 7 11 8
23 February 2015 ComRes 34 32 8 13 8
24 February 2015 Survation 28 34 10 19 4
24 February 2015 YouGov 35 33 6 14 7
average 32.1 33.1 8.2 14.6 6.6
averages at 17 December 2014 31.4 33.1 7.9 16.0 5.6

It is a story of no change for Labour. There have been slight improvements for the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, and the Greens. UKIP support is weakening.

What does this all mean for the next seventy days? Judging by the trends it looks like a tightening race between the top two. UKIP are falling back a bit, which will be cause for some relief in Tory HQ. As for the battle for fourth (in terms of votes rather than seats) the gap is narrowing, but the increasing scrutiny placed on the Green Party will certainly test the resolve of those pledging allegiance.

At the moment, judging from my personal experience, I think that there are still many voters who have yet to make up their minds – enough in my opinion to potentially change the outcome.

Prediction? I have been thinking that we are in hung parliament territory for some time. However, I am beginning to think that a majority government is becoming a stronger possibility – and I put this down to the increased scrutiny being directed at the alternatives. I am going for a narrow Labour majority for the moment, but I know that this could all change in the days and weeks ahead.

Few voters use a General Election as a time to cast a protest vote. As we near the first Thursday in May, voters will think on their jobs, their mortgages, the pensions, their prosperity, their children’s future. Think what you like of Labour and the Conservatives, you know what you get with them – the alternatives are just too big a gamble.

Martin Berry to contest Eastwood Park ward

020Martin Berry will contest Eastwood Park ward for the Labour Party in this year’s Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections.

Parliamentary candidate Julian Ware-Lane supports campaign to make sure people with MND do not die without a voice

MNDcharterParliamentary candidate Julian Ware-Lane, Southend West, has signed the MND Association’s Charter in recognition of the rights of people living with motor neurone disease (MND) and has agreed to work with the charity to ensure people living with this terminal disease do not die without a voice.

This rapidly progressive disease kills five people every die in the UK, with a third of people dying within twelve months of diagnosis. Between 80% and 95% of people living with MND will experience some communication difficulties, some losing their voice completely, before they die.

Julian Ware-Lane said, “People living with MND should not be left without a voice, with no way to communicate with loved ones and professionals at a very difficult time in their lives. We need to see a change, and I am committed to working with the MND Association to make sure people with MND get the support and equipment they need.”

The MND Association is concerned that too many people with MND are experiencing delays in getting the right support to help them communicate. In some cases people have received essential communication equipment too late, after the person has died.

Chris James, Director of External Affairs for the MND Association said: “Losing the ability to speak is one of the most distressing dimensions of MND. The help that communication aids can offer can utterly transform the last weeks and months of a person’s life. Being denied them can make that time thoroughly and needlessly wretched. That’s why our manifesto is calling for the next Government to commit to meeting the communication challenges faced by people with MND. Action must be taken to make sure people with MND don’t die without a voice.”

For further information please visit www.mndassociation.org/voice

The horse as ridden by Jes

One of the long-standing opinions is that in a General Election independent voices are squeezed out of the picture, a voice in the wilderness so to speak. Almost everyone will go to their local polling station on Thursday 7th May with one thought uppermost in their mind. Voters will be choosing their Member of Parliament, and by extension stating which Government they would prefer.

This is a generalisation, but I think it will be true in the overwhelming number of cases. Local elections are being held on the same day, and it certainly used to be true that votes cast in a council election would invariably be for the same party as was chosen for the Parliamentary election.

Add in the increased turnout, likely double or more of what is normally cast in local elections, and it becomes obvious that any independent, who also has to contend with a backdrop of blanket coverage for the national parties, is going to struggle to make an impact.

Cllr Paul Van Looy should be facing a fight to the death in his St Luke’s ward. Whilst Labour are giving it a go, both the Conservative and UKIP candidates seem to be asleep. Neither the Greens, nor the Liberal Democrats, have selected (or announced anyway); this is going to be a late show for them.

The Tories made a big show of announcing their slate in the East last year, and by selecting a Rochford Parish Councillor (James Cottis) they were making a statement. Judging by the amount of campaign time Cllr Cottis has put in since selection I do not think it was of the “you really matter to us” variety. Either James is a poor campaigner, or the Conservatives really have given up on St Luke’s.

Roger Weaver’s fanfare was about as far as it got for UKIP in St Luke’s too. He has perhaps been hampered by having a local party more willing to fight amongst themselves than to take it to the opposition; Paul must be enjoying that spectacle.

I fear that it might be an over-used phrase in the coming weeks, but the campaign in St Luke’s is (for the present at least) a two-horse race. It is Phillips versus Van Looy; big party candidate or independent.

In any other year Paul Van Looy would be the favourite. Elected with a handsome majority, an incumbent who is a member of the new, and popular, administration. However.

Jes Phillips, a young mum, has the benefit of a national campaign running aside her own personal one. Usually reluctant residents will come out, and whilst little thought will be given to her campaign, she will be the beneficiary of a vote to banish Cameron from Number Ten.

It promises to be an intriguing contest ….


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