Croydon Schools Survey: Part 2 - widespread cuts to special needs services

This week I've been analysing more results from my inaugural Croydon Schools Survey, where over 50 headteachers told me of the pressures they are under due to funding cuts. Last week I explained how 92% of headteachers have been forced to make staffing cuts because of funding. Today I've revealed that children with special educational needs (SEN) are also experiencing widespread cuts to their support. 85% of headteachers have had to cut SEN support due to lack of funding, and over a third have actually cut SEN staff numbers.

Meanwhile the number of children registered as having special needs in Croydon has actually risen significantly - by around 25% over the last seven years. It's a scandal that our schools can't even afford to support our most vulnerable children properly. Learn more by clicking the link below.

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New survey reveals widespread cuts in Croydon schools

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During the election and in the months since, one of the most worrying issues raised with me is the financial pressure our schools are under. The Conservative Government keep saying everything is fine, while teachers, headteachers and parents on the front line are saying loud at clear that there is a growing funding crisis in schools.

New analysis from the NUT estimates Croydon schools will have seen effective cuts of £8.3m by 2020. The large number of conversations I have had with teachers and headteachers support this, however some people continue to doubt these calculations and claim schools are better off than before.

So I've surveyed over 50 Croydon headteachers myself to get to the facts. Then I brought some of those headteachers to Westminster to present the survey results to the schools minister and explain the pressures our schools are under. The results of the survey are very clear, and quite shocking:

Read more about the results by clicking the link below. 

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Knife Crime debate & APPG launch

Over the past week since Parliament returned from the summer break, I've continued my campaign against knife crime.

Last week I held a debate on this topic in the House of Commons which was attended by MPs of various parties. I challenged the Minister to develop a 10-year National Knife Crime Strategy. 

This week, my cross-party group on knife crime was officially launched. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime has had a strong response from MPs from across the country, with over 30 MPs and Lords signed up as members. 

Click 'Read more' below to learn more and watch my full speech in the House of Commons.
APPG_meeting.jpegInaugural meeting of the APPG on Knife Crime
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Launch date confirmed for new cross-party group on knife crime

During the election I promised real action on knife crime, which rose by a staggering 94% in Croydon over the last year. The tragic death of 15-year-old Jermaine Goupall in Thornton Heath earlier this month shows how urgently we need action on this issue both in Parliament and in Croydon. That's why I'm setting up a cross-party group which will launch next month, to bring forward some new ideas and push this issue higher up the agenda in Westminster. 

Reaching_Higher.jpegMeeting Reaching Higher, a community group doing fantastic work with young people in Croydon
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Launching Croydon Voice and meeting ANOS & The LIONS

Earlier this week I met two important community groups: Another Night of Sisterhood (ANOS) and The LIONS Society. Both groups were set up by members of our community who had seen too many lives ruined by knife crime and gang violence in Croydon - both young people and parents.

This meeting was the first in a programme I'm calling 'Croydon Voice'. Across August and September I'll meet community groups, police and other organisations across Croydon who are working to reduce knife crime and youth violence in our town. I also want to meet families of those affected by knife crime or gang violence, and young people who have experienced it directly. Croydon Voice is about giving a national voice and a platform to those working at the grassroots, or experiencing the tragic consequences of knife crime directly. (Cont'd)

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Sarah Jones with leaders of The LIONS Society and ANOS, including Donna Murray-Turner and Raymond Robb, 31st July in South Norwood
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Questioning the Prime Minister on knife crime

I pressed Theresa May in Prime Minister's Questions today for more support to tackle knife crime. We can't afford to let the situation get worse - too many lives are at stake.

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My Maiden Speech

Last week I made my maiden speech in parliament, in a debate on Grenfell Tower. You can watch the highlights of the speech here.

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Three important votes

I took part in three important votes over the past week. All three were amendments to the Queen's Speech which would have forced the Government to alter its plans for new laws over the next two years:

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Schools cuts campaign update: calling for an urgent meeting with the Education Secretary

I have demanded a meeting with the Education Secretary to discuss schools cuts in Croydon and beyond.

Today the Queen has formally opened Parliament, meaning Parliament can get back to work. While Theresa May delayed us with ongoing negotiations with the DUP, I have been working on one of my campaign priorities: speaking to teachers, headteachers and students about the importance of education and fighting cuts to Croydon schools.

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Speaking to students at Park Hill Junior School

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Grenfell Tower fire: update

Last Friday Steve Reed and I had an urgent meeting with Croydon Council leaders – and I went to Fieldway to look at some of the taller blocks and talk to local people. The Council wrote and hand-delivered a letter to all of the council tenants in tall blocks confirming that the type of cladding used in Grenfall Tower was not used in any Croydon blocks and that they had begun an immediate and thorough review of materials used for cladding.

I am delighted that Croydon Council yesturday went further than any other Council I have seen, announcing that twenty-five housing blocks in Croydon will get fire sprinklers as part of the council’s response to the terrible fire. This is very good news.

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