It’s always a pleasure to visit Lambeth College, where (what seems like a million years ago) I used to take an evening teaching class. Things have changed a lot since then and this Friday, I had the opportunity to get along to their Clapham Common campus to speak with staff and students about their experiences in local further education. It was great talking to health and social care students and discussing everything from work placements to transport links, and how and why I became an MP.
Lambeth College do a fantastic job of providing skills and training to local young people but they’re doing things in a difficult context. Per pupil funding levels for Sixth Formers have been frozen since 2014, leaving schools and colleges with less money to spend on front line services. While the Government’s announcement of a slight funding increase in September welcome, it is far from enough to provide the supportive infrastructure our young people need.
Only one in four young people is able to receive help from a mental health professional. At a time where teachers are raising alarms over student mental health, we’ve seen counselling services dismantled. Enrichment courses and careers advice have also suffered to the detriment of our young.
School Food Plan Alliance
After Lambeth College, it was onto Parliament, where I met up with the School Food Plan Alliance to discuss news that the Government will review the policy of Universal Free Infant School Meals ahead of its latest budget. They highlighted academic research which suggests these normalise healthy eating and are generally far more nutritionally balanced than most packed lunches.I’ll be tabling some questions on this soon. Watch this space.
A Better Budget for Education
With the budget coming up, it’s vital Labour put pressure on the Conservatives to invest properly in education to meet basic educational needs and unlock the full potential of everyone in our area. The Government has announced modest spending increases for further education, which are welcome but these will still keep us way last Labour Government.