Three local schools win awards for work with disadvantaged pupils

Lynne Featherstone MP with Hornsey School for Girls studentsAlexandra Park School, Highgate Wood Secondary School, and Hornsey School for Girls have been recognised as going the extra mile to help disadvantaged students.

The schools have received a £5,000 award for the work they have done to boost the achievements of pupils from less privileged backgrounds, by putting the Pupil Premium to effective use.

The Pupil Premium is £2.5bn of extra money that is targeted towards helping disadvantaged students in school. It is a key Liberal Democrat policy, now delivered in Government.

All three schools are now eligible to apply for a prize of up to £250,000 – the winner of which will be announced by Nick Clegg in March.

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“It is great that three schools in Hornsey and Wood Green have received this award for excellent use of the Pupil Premium funding. I have visited all three of these schools over the past few years and have seen this good work for myself.

“The Pupil Premium funding helps make sure that everyone has the best chance to get on in life. That’s why the Lib Dems fought so hard to implement the policy, and why we’re rewarding those schools that have put it to best use.”

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:

“Alexandra Park, Highgate Wood, and Hornsey Girls can rightly be proud of their work to improve the life chances of children in Haringey.

“I would encourage all of the secondary schools which have received a prize to share their successful approach with other schools so they can learn from their experience.”

Hornsey School for Girls – another brilliant event

YPI (Youth and Philanthropy Intitiative) is a program developed in Canada and now in schools here which raises awareness among young people about philanthropy.

On the ground – what this means is best described by the event I went to last night. The girls were in teams of about four or five. They had over a series of ten weeks chosen a local charity, visited and worked with them to understand what they were about and for this occasion – put together a presentation to judges (and us in the audience) to win the £3000 prize which would go to that charity.

I could only stay for the first three presentations. The first team were championing Noah’s Ark Hospice – incredibly moving – with computer images in the back ground and a role play and song. Then Action for Kids was the next team’s charity. I know this group very well having visited them several times. The words and the staging were fantastic and you could see that the girls who had gone to visit had really got it – understood the value of young people with all sorts of disabilities, including learning disabilities, having somewhere to train and work. The last one supported a charity which helped victims of domestic violence. What was so compelling in their presentation was the depth of understanding of what domestic violence does – not just to the direct victim – but to the family around.

All three were quite extra-ordinary – so I look forward to hearing who won the cheque for their charity –  but I can’t imagine how the judges could choose between all worthy causes and brilliant presentations.

Local MP helps open new library at local school

Opening of new library at Hornsey School for GirlsTo help open the new library at Hornsey School for Girls, Lynne Featherstone MP on Friday celebrated the new learning space with students, teachers and residents at the Inderwick Road School.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s great to see this fantastic new library. It’s a truly inspirational learning space – so airy, spacious and with a great range of computer and books.

“But one of the best things has really been to hear from the students about what this new library will mean to them, in terms of getting peace of mind and access to information to help them with projects, exams and to ultimately do well in life – and that really is fantastic!”

Aspiring journalists from Hornsey School for Girls interview MP for special BBC report

Lynne Featherstone interviewed by, from the left, Carenza Grant and Lina Chakri In order to help aspiring young journalists from a local school do a special piece on youth issues in Haringey for the BBC, Lynne Featherstone MP was interviewed by students at Hornsey School for Girls.

The Crouch End school is participating in the BBC school report for the third year running. The project allows students, with the help of mentors from the national broadcaster, to learn about making TV and to develop journalistic skills.

The Liberal Democrat MP was quizzed on issues such as unfair school funding and youth crime in the student-led piece, which will be shown on the BBC website, and hopefully on TV and radio, on the 11th March.

Lynne Featherstone MP, comments:

“I was really impressed by how expertly the interview was carried out, how well researched the questions were, and how much the students had learnt about technical stuff like filming and sound.

“This is a great way to teach the girls about making TV and to help them develop an interest in current affairs.

“And who knows, they may even end up working for the BBC one day! Hopefully their report will go all the way to the top – I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for it on the 11th March.”

Lap dancing in Crouch End

Met on Saturday with the local campaigners from Crouch End who are motivated to take up arms against the application for a ‘gentlemen’s club’ (i.e. lap dancing) at the Music Palace – and after listening to them I don’t blame them.

As a liberal I don’t knee-jerk against the varying tastes and occupations of folk – unless they do harm to others. On this one I have to agree that the potential for harm, nuisance, noise and detrimental impact is high. Plonking such an establishment in a local buzzing busy high street means that it is not ‘out of the way’, it can’t be avoided and women, young girls and children will have to pass it – no choice. Whether or not is is true that men will emerge in a roused state – who knows – but if they do then that could have potential for danger and even if they don’t – women feel vulnerable in the near vicinity.

As to specific worries – well in the immediate area we have Hornsey School for Girls, Action for Kids (charity for vulnerable young people with learning disabilities), Rokesly Junior and Infants School and the YMCA. But even without these particularly vulnerable groups – there are issues for anyone made uncomfortable or concerned or even frightened to walk past. People shouldn’t have to feel intimidated or worried on their own high street.

There is a Bill (am finding out the details) on the licensing of lap-dancing clubs about to go through Parliament where it is widely rumoured that instead of only requiring a normal license – same as clubs and pubs – lap dancing clubs will become for the first time ‘sex encounter establishments’ which would require a different sort of license – same as the sex industry places. I expect that is why there is a shifty on to get licensed before the change in the law – so as the local MP I will be seeking to make any changes in the Bill retrospective too.

The campaigners want me to try and ensure there is a grandfather clause – so that it is not only new lap dancing clubs in the future that have to be licensed for sexual encounter – but that those already in existence (as this one will be if it gets its license) will have to apply for the new type of license which is much stricter on a number of fronts.

So – anyone interested in joining the campaign should contact me, stating you give me permission for me to pass on your name and email address to Alison Lillystone, who is leading the campaign group.

Haringey Youth Council

Haringey Youth Council question timeYesterday, having spent the hours between 6am and 9am writing, emailing etc about the leadership contest – as it is all an add on and not instead of my day job – I catch up on emails, letters etc from residents before going to West Green Learning Centre for ‘Politicians’ Question Time’ organised by Haringey Youth Council (Adam and Shayan).

As ever, the young people who come to this sort of event are as bright as buttons. I absolutely love hearing what they say – and particularly this time as one of the girls made several comments of phenomenal depth, with well-observed views made with passion.

I have suggested to her and her school friends who were there that they come up to Parliament to see me to take the discussions on. I am already tabling Parliamentary Written Questions based on those submitted through Adam and the Youth Council.

But as my young friend said – she doesn’t want to be a tick box for politicians to make them feel good about having ‘engaged’ with young people and she wants the issues for debate to be what she wants – not what politicians decide they want to discuss! Very impressive!

The standard of questions and comments from everyone else was pretty high. Issues the came up included the balance between punishment for young people behaving badly and alternatives and the ‘labelisation’ of young people with the ‘ethnic minority’ tag (very interesting discussion!). Much food for thought.

I’ve also agreed to go again to Hornsey School for Girls – as the Headmaster thought that there would be about 100 students interested enough to come to a similar event there.

Citizens Advice Bureau in Haringey

Early meeting with the head of the local CAB. The Citizens Advice Bureau is such a vital resource for this borough and I learn that Haringey Council wants to squeeze them down to two outlets – Tottenham and Wood Green. Must fight to retain the one in the west. Two to one is probably the right ratio in placement – but to take away the CAB entirely from the west of the borough would be wrong as there is so much need there too. The CAB are committed to staying in the west as well- but they are so overloaded with work and under-funded in terms of human resource. We exchange views on a whole range of issues – as people come to my surgery and to them – and often we refer to each other. The queue outside is already as long as you can imagine – and people often have to wait hours and hours. So – how to attract more resource for the CAB?

Onto Hornsey School for Girls. What a treat this was. To spend a couple of hours talking to the senior girls – the Head Girl and her deputies and four from the elected school council. Bright and interesting and interested. We range over the whole gamut from lack of facilities for young people (who are just thought of as trouble if they hang around – but they have nowhere to go), to behaviour out of school, to what they think of politics and so on and so on. I invite all of them and any other pupil of sixth form who is interested to come up to Parliament and to come for work experience.

Hornsey High is a very interesting school because it does not take from a catchment around the school itself – it takes from the whole borough and consequently only a few girls come from nearby. The school’s ethnic mix is striking – 92% black and ethnic minorities and 8% white. We have an interesting conversation in which I am told that drink and drugs problems happen much more at the parties that the white girls have/go to than those the black girls go to or have. So much for stereotypes!

It is clear that the Education Bill, which passed its second reading, finds no favour. Firstly the girls are angry that they were not consulted – nor the staff – and I suggest that I put down a Parliamentary Question to find out who was consulted. It is an important issue as the Bill will mean the school taking on extra burdens currently borne by the Local Education Authority.

The Bill is all about structures rather than resourcing quality processes – which is my new mantra as to why everything has gone wrong everywhere. Anyway – a really interesting time and enjoyable.

Then it is off to surgery at Hornsey Library followed by session at my constituency office. Also today – latest newspaper column is out, about the future of police stations.