Sonia Barker’s Speech on Education during Budget debate

Remember ‘No School an Island’? How about no community an island or no pupil an island as an aim? How can this be achieved?

There needs to be far more of a Strategic Overview of services for young people in Suffolk.

Firstly, Home to School Transport. By reversing the proposed cuts to Home to School Transport of £0.55m and by giving Revenue Enhancement to Discretionary Post 16 Transport of £0.20m the amendment will compensate for the £0.2m cut in 16/17, to ensure that charges for discretionary travel does not limit the opportunities for low income families – especially for young people, so they are not prevented from furthering their studies due to rural isolation.

The Social Mobility of Suffolk young people cannot improve if they cannot get to the most appropriate courses for their future direction due to a lack of transport.

Let’s support young people to move literally in the right direction.

Secondly, there must be a far greater coordinated push on Teacher Recruitment and Retention via a Revenue Enhancement of £0.20m – to enhance the resources and support budget to attract far more excellent teachers to Suffolk.

This is a national issue and any long term response or solution must come from central government. However, a local injection of funds for an immediate relief is necessary.

Having spoken to the Department for Education recently, they confirmed this approach and were sympathetic to the amendment’s aim for teacher recruitment.

Used creatively, the extra funding could attract specialist teachers to Suffolk whose expertise and excellent practice could then be shared amongst a number of schools, thereby raising attainment.

Thirdly, reversing the cut made to Early Years Help and Specialist Services CYP Inclusive services fund for Autism and ADHD in 15/16. To provide an enhanced diagnostic service for families of children and young people with ADHD and Autism to enable them to access the services they need.

I really should not have to say yet again that a cut  of £0.25m be reversed for services to support some of the most vulnerable children and their families in Suffolk.  Bearing in mind that many families will face the loss of the specialist support offered by Autism Suffolk as a result of cuts to their service at the end of March 2017.

The Labour Amendment aims to ensure that no school, community, pupil or family is an island marooned by cuts to services and lack of affordable transport.

If you believe in a county where equality of opportunity is paramount, where excellent teachers are encouraged and retained and the most vulnerable pupils are supported, then vote for the Labour Amendment.

SetWidth160-2013-05-14 Sonia Barker informal WS

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