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Fix Free School Meals and implement a child poverty action plan, Darren Jones writes to Prime Minister

Following the latest Free School Meals scandal which revealed widespread problems with child food parcels, Darren wrote to the Prime Minister demanding action. With millions of children asked to learn from home during the winter spike in COVID cases, families across the country have been supplied with inadequate and unnutritious food parcels by outsourced catering companies, instead of supermarket vouchers.

Parents are the best judge of which foods their children will eat, and the Government’s approach to Free School Meals shows a disregard for the serious issue of child poverty in the UK. The standard of food parcels offered to some families is not only a national embarrassment but deeply offensive to parents struggling to provide for their children during a pandemic that has cost one million jobs so far.

An example of a 10-day food parcel received by parents.

During the previous Labour governments, two million children were lifted out of poverty. Yet since 2017, there has been a 52% increase in children living in destitution in the UK. Darren raised the lack of a child poverty strategy in any of the Chancellor’s economic policies during the last Financial Statement and this admission remains unaddressed.

Darren followed up his letter to the Prime Minister by giving an assessment of the Government’s dismissive attitude towards child poverty on Channel Four News, January 12th. You can read Darren’s letter in full below:

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Darren Supports Shire FC Development

Shirehampton Football Club has been a source of community pride for decades and now seek to invest in their sporting grounds. The development plan includes additional seating and lighting so that more people can enjoy watching their local team. This infrastructure may also support the club’s ambitions to progress through their league.

Darren Jones voiced his support for the community project as increasing access to sporting facilities is a priority for Bristol and our local communities. Shirehampton has seen a decline in community assets, including the closure of its swimming pool and sports centres, so investment in its remaining facilities is especially important. It’s also important that this development balances community needs alongside environmental concerns, including light pollution.

You can read Darren’s full letter below:

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Stop ignoring child poverty, warns Darren to Chancellor

Following a disappointing Financial Statement from the Chancellor this winter, Darren questioned the Government’s commitment to eliminating child poverty.

Despite rates of child poverty increasing in the UK, the world 6th richest country, this winter’s financial statement does nothing to address the system causes of child poverty. The statement also fails to dedicate budget to helping families during the winter period that are suffering from in-work poverty.

Speaking in Parliament, Darren raised this issue to the Chancellor directly. You can watch the exchange here:

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Darren attends Filton Avenue Primary School’s Great Oracy Exhibition

Filton Avenue organised its first Great Oracy Exhibition last week, in partnership with Voice 21. The exhibition highlighted the importance of speaking and language when building physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills. Discussion is an important way for us to learn, and Darren was very touched to be invited.

Attending the event, Darren said:

It’s inspiring to see Filton Avenue continue to find innovative ways to educate Bristo’s children. The exhibition was fantastic, and I hope I get invited next year too!

 

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Darren calls on Environment Secretary to adopt Deposit Return Scheme

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, has written to Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers MP to ask her to adopt the suggestions of Girlguiding’s Future Girl campaign on a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles.

Darren said:

Proposals for a DRS have already won approval across party lines. In December 2017, the Environmental Audit Committee produced a report on plastic bottle waste which found that the UK uses 38.5 million plastic bottles every day, of which 15 million are not recycled; they recommended that “the Government adapts a producer responsibility compliance fee structure that stimulates the use of recycled plastic, rewards design for recyclability, and increases costs for packaging that is difficult to recycle or reuse.” They also recommended “that the Government introduces a legislated Deposit Return Scheme for all PET plastic drinks bottles.”

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Darren encourages schools to teach WW1 Remembrance

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has written to all Primary schools in Bristol North West encouraging them to take part in a free scheme which educates pupils on the importance of WW1 Remembrance.

Darren said:

“During early October, I contacted all 29 primary schools in Bristol North West, inviting them to use the free lesson and assembly plans supplied by the Royal British Legion and National Literacy Trust. These plans can be used in English, Science and History lessons – as well as school assemblies – to ensure Remembrance, and the importance of peace, is universally understood. The plans commemorate the First World War generation – those who served, sacrificed and changed our world.

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, I urge all schools to get involved”!

Here’s a copy of the letter Darren sent to Badocks Wood Academy in Southmead:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Darren visits Fairfield High School

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, visited Fairfields High School in Horfield on 18th October.

Darren said:

“I always enjoy my visits to local schools – this was no exception. I was asked lots of interesting questions – particularly about the (then) upcoming ‘super Saturday’ sitting of Parliament and Brexit debates!

It was clear the students had taken a keen interest in the main issue (aside from Climate Change) facing our country and politics at present, and had strong but considered opinions about it. Hopefully in the years to come, we’ll have another person raised and educated in Bristol North West as our MP – they were certainly some strong candidates at Fairfield.”

 

 

 

 

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Darren slams cuts facing 100% of local schools

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones said:

“I’ve just received (25th October 2019) a briefing from the National Education Union which confirms Department of Education funding for local schools from 1st April 2020. Despite the government pretending otherwise, 100% of our schools will have less budget than they did in 2015!

I’ve visited nearly every school in my constituency over the last two years and I hear the same concerns at each one – we’re pushing overworked teachers out of the profession and forcing our kids to face larger class sizes with less staff available to help and less money for books, equipment and technology. This crisis is felt even more acutely with children who have special educational needs, young people with mental health needs and is also illustrated in the reduction of creative subjects being taught. Yet this Government continues to underfund and under-deliver on their responsibility to schools – all the whilst pretending austerity is over – and the nation’s children and young people.

Between 2015 and April 2020, our schools in Bristol North West will have faced a shortfall of £49,308 million. That’s – on average – £704 less per pupil than in April 2015. This is totally unacceptable and puts our kid’s futures at risk – education can’t and shouldn’t be done on the cheap!

Having just recently supported campaigns for improved nursery and sixth-form funding, I assure my constituents I’ll continue to do everything I can to achieve fair funding for our schools”.

Here are some examples of what these devastating cuts mean for our kid’s schools:

  1. Glenfrome Primary school, has been cut by an average £626 per pupil since 2015. Class sizes are above average. Class sizes rose from 25.0 pupils per class in 2015 to 28.4 in 2018. Cuts are above average. Cuts are equal to the salaries of 4 teachers. Funding is below average.
  2. Fairfield High School, Bristol has been cut by an average £855 per pupil since 2015. Class sizes are above average. Class sizes rose from 23.0 pupils per class in 2015 to 26.6 in 2018. Cuts are above average. Cuts are equal to the salaries of 17 teachers.
  3. Fonthill primary School has been cut by an average of £738 per pupil since 2015. Class sizes are above average. Class sizes rose from 26.9 pupils per class in 2015 to 28.9 in 2018. Cuts are above average. Cuts are equal to the salaries of 2 teachers.
  4. Stoke Park Primary School has been cut by an average of £520 per pupil since 2015, which has badly affected the school. Class sizes are above average. Class sizes rose from 23.7 pupils per class in 2015 to 27.3 in 2018. Cuts are above average. Cuts are equal to the salaries of 2 teachers.
  5. Sea Mills Primary School has been cut by an average of £654 per pupil since 2015. Class sizes are above average. Class sizes rose from 25.8 pupils per class in 2015 to 27.9 in 2018. Cuts are above average. Cuts are equal to the salaries of 2 teachers.

You can support the NEU’s campaign and find out about cuts to your local school here.

You can follow Darren’s work on education here.