Lynne Featherstone MP demands answers on Fairer Funding allocation

London Lib dems demand Fair funding now!Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has today called on Labour-run Haringey Council to ensure that the distribution of new funding for education is truly fair.

After a hard fought five year campaign, Lynne Featherstone and the Haringey Liberal Democrats secured fairer funding for education in Haringey. As a result of this, an extra £7.3 million has been allocated for Haringey’s schools.

The additional funds from the fairer funding settlement have gone a long way to ending the long-standing funding anomaly – which saw local schools receiving outer London funding but paying inner London costs. Haringey Council will shortly be able to allocate the extra money directly to schools in the borough.

The £7.3million in fairer funding money is in addition to the £8.8million allocated to Haringey schools through pupil premium. The pupil premium is a separate amount based on a Liberal Democrat Government policy to give more money to schools in accordance with the number of disadvantaged children.

Katherine Reece, Haringey Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Children said:

“It’s fantastic news that Haringey will now finally receive fairer funding for education.

“We now want to ensure that the money will be distributed fairly and proportionally throughout the borough’s primary and secondary schools.”

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Poverty and disadvantage are present all over the borough. All of Haringey schools already pay Inner London pay scales, so they should all get a share of the money to assist them.

“I have written to the Interim Chief Executive and called on the Labour-run Council to ensure that the money reaches every school in Hornsey and Wood Green, as well as those in Tottenham.”

Pupil Premium boost for Haringey schools – MP Lynne Featherstone

Lynne Featherstone with the head teacher of Highgate Wood School, one of the schools she visited over the summer to find out how the Pupil Premium funding is being spentLynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, is urging local schools to share their experiences with the Pupil Premium funding given to schools by the coalition government.

Lynne Featherstone has written to schools in the area asking how they spent the Pupil Premium funding – calculated as £8.8 million for Haringey schools. She has also asked schools that ran summer schools under a related government scheme what their experiences have been.

Lynne Featherstone commented:

“I have heard from a number of local schools already. The Pupil Premium has been spent on increased pastoral support and in direct efforts to raise boys’ attainment; extra staff have been recruited to work on literacy and numeracy; Alexandra Park School has boosted its hardship fund and set up a youth group. One school in Wood Green plans to take on a careers advisor as part of its package of measures while another high school in the area has invested in providing literacy boosters for children entering the school with lower attainment levels.

“All of this sounds like great news but I want the full picture from all local schools.”

Councillor Katherine Reece, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on education issues in Haringey, added:

“The Pupil Premium is a powerful tool. The funding is linked to the child so people from poorer backgrounds are helped even if they live surrounded by relative affluence. And schools are free to spend the money as they think works best making it doubly flexible. It should make a real difference to local children.”

Lynne Featherstone and Haringey Liberal Democrats plan to publish a report sharing the experiences of local schools with the Pupil Premium later in the autumn.

Adoption delays must be investigated

An investigation must be held to uncover why vulnerable children in Haringey face over double the average wait to be adopted, Liberal Democrats have said today. Recent figures show the average wait for an adoptive family to be found by Haringey Council, following a court order, is twice as long (107 days more) as the time taken in similar local authorities in London.

Information released by the government shows the time taken to adopt a child in Haringey (739 days) is similar to that in boroughs deemed to be statistical neighbours (717days) but over 100 days more than the English average (625 days). Liberal Democrats have said that, while the disparity with the national average is concerning, the average time taken (239 days) by Haringey Council from court order to adoption is “disappointing” and is twice as long as other boroughs. The average for comparative local authorities is 132 days.

Liberal Democrats have asked Labour’s cabinet member for children why there are such delays in completing adoptions and why vulnerable children and parents anxious to adopt have to wait twice as long as those in similar local authorities.

Cllr Katherine Reece, Liberal Democrat Children’s Spokesperson, comments:

“It is very sad and disappointing that children in Haringey, on average, have to wait twice as long as children in similar councils to get a place in a secure family after the courts have granted an order.

“Vulnerable and often young children should not have to endure long waits. Considering similar councils in London have much shorter waits an investigation is needed into Haringey Council’s performance.

“This is exactly the type of issue that the proposed new scrutiny panels should investigate and we are asking the new cabinet member for Children’s Services to explain what is happening with adoption in the borough.”

Lynne Featherstone MP, adds:

“An investigation is needed. I understand that cases can often be complex but vulnerable children having to wait over a hundred days more than others in London boroughs should not go unchallenged.”

Free early years education for two-year olds in Haringey

Free early education will be extended to 140,000 disadvantaged two-year- olds, and parents will be able to access the free entitlement more flexibly, under plans published by the Government on Friday.

In Haringey around 1,000 two-year olds are expected to benefit from the proposals.

Liberal Democrat Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, announced a consultation on Friday on how this commitment will be implemented. The plans include proposals to help parents and children alike by making the free entitlement of 15 hours per week of early education more flexible, so it can be taken between 7am and 7pm across two days instead of the current three days.

Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“Helping 1,000 two-year-old children from the poorest backgrounds with early education in Haringey will benefit them for years to come.

“Improving social mobility is a Liberal Democrat priority in Government and early years education is crucial to achieve this.

“We want us to give every child the best possible start – so free education for toddlers from the most disadvantaged homes will now be a right and not a privilege.

“Crucially the extra care will be flexible and easy to access. Parents across the country are bending over backwards to balance work and home. The Coalition wants to help in whatever way we can.”

Children’s spokesperson Councillor Katherine Reece adds:

“High quality early education is key to making a difference early in a child’s life and to help make Britain a fairer and more equal society.

“Targetting early education at those who stand to benefit most is crucial in achieving this goal. Disadvantaged children’s healthy development will be greatly benefitted by this initiative. This should help them from falling behind before they have even started primary school.”

Lynne Featherstone MP hosts reception in parliament for local cerebral palsy charity

Nick Goble (Winkworth), Lynne Featherstone MP, John Martin (LCCCP Chairman), Mark Crank (LCCCP CEO) and Cllr Katherine Reece Lib Dem Spokesperson for Children and Young PeopleTo help raise awareness of Muswell Hill based London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy’s (LCCCP) special work, Lynne Featherstone MP yesterday hosted a parliamentary reception to highlight their achievements.

At the reception, the charity’s Chief Executive Marc Crank spoke of their difficult but successful work, helping children with cerebral palsy increase their mobility and become more independent. The Liberal Democrat MP also spoke of her many visits to the charity, and the amazing support and help the charity provides to families and their children with cerebral palsy.

The Muswell Hill based school, which recently changed its name from the Hornsey Trust, supports 55 families and their children with cerebral palsy, ranging from ages 1 to 11. The charity uses a technique called Conductive Education, which focuses on increasing independence.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“The London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy is a very special charity. They work tirelessly to help the children increase their mobility and grow up to become more independent.

“It was lovely to hear from the charity’s many fans at the reception, from local architects firms, to Winkworth estate agents, of why they are supporting the charity. Clearly the LCCCP’s special work has touched many hearts!”

LCCCP Chief Executive Marc Crank adds:

“The work we do is so life changing for the children and their families, and it’s really heartwarming to know that the charity has good friends, who work hard to help us continue this important work.

“A special thanks to Lynne and to Winkworth estate agents for supporting this reception, and our wider work.”

Liberal Democrats force Council rethink on children’s centres

As a result of action by the Liberal Democrats, Haringey Council has been forced to rethink controversial plans to re-structure and close local children’s centres.  The Labour Cabinet member for Children and Young People on Thursday announced the Council had relented in the face of pressure from head teachers, governors and councillors and decided to do more to help Children’s Centres stay open.
 
Liberal Democrats forced the Council to address the concerns of parents and education experts by calling a special cross-party Overview & Scrutiny committee meeting.  The revised proposals take on board a number of the Liberal Democrats’ demands, but have been criticised for still leaving several Children’s Centres at risk of closure.
 
The restructuring model originally proposed by the Labour Council has been put on hold and Cllr Reith has promised to look at alternative proposals to be developed by Haringey Children’s Centre Alliance. 
 
Cllr Reith also agreed to provide small amounts of money to keep health services in Highgate, North Bank and Rokesly centres, and help for those centres to develop business plans to stay open.  But the plans to withdraw the rest of the council funding from these centres by August will continue, along with the closure of the Tower Gardens centre.
 
Cllr Katherine Reece, Liberal Democrat Children’s spokesperson, comments:

“While I am pleased that we have made the Council rethink its approach to closing Children’s Centres, I am disappointed that once again, vulnerable families in the west of the borough are being ignored.  Labour don’t seem to understand that not all families in Highgate, Muswell Hill, Fortis Green, Crouch End and Hornsey are wealthy.
 
“I hope the Council is serious about trying to help Highgate, Rokesly and North Bank children’s centres stay open with paid-for services.  But there is still no detail on how much support will be provided, despite the fact that the Council are adamant that funding cuts should start in just two months.
 
“Although the Council seems to have listened to some of the Liberal Democrats concerns, the consultation with children’s centres staff about redundancy continues unabated, which makes me question how serious they are about listening to different ideas.”
 
Highgate Primary School Head Teacher William Dean adds:

“I am delighted that the Council has taken on board our proposal to cover accommodation costs for health services and to provide funding that will enable the centre to remain open. We look forward to continuing to provide excellent and essential services for our community from Highgate Primary School”.

Haringey Liberal Democrats urge cabinet member to change policy immediately on “disastrous” children’s centre plans

Liberal Democrats have called on cabinet member, Cllr Lorna Reith, to abandon Haringey Labour’s plan to drastically scale back provision of vital Children’s Centres. At a special ‘watchdog’ committee this week she faced overwhelming resistance to her proposals.  

On Wednesday (8th June 2011) the Overview and Scrutiny Committee rejected Labour’s proposals and sent the issue back to the cabinet member for reconsideration by next Thursday.

Heads of local schools and children’s centres united to oppose plans which would withdraw funding from children’s centres at Rokelsey, North Bank, Highgate and Tower Gardens, after the Liberal Democrats successfully referred the issue to the committee.

Cllr Rachel Allison highlighted the effects of the removal of vital preventative services, the need to have universal access to children’s centres across the borough and need to listen to the concerns raised, including those from Labour backbenchers and Labour MP David Lammy who are against the plans. 

Cllr Katherine Reece, Liberal Democrat Children’s spokesperson, comments:

“It’s time that Cllr Reith stopped rowing against the tidal wave of criticism that overwhelmingly shows that her plans will damage our local children’s welfare, upbringing and safety. The tide has turned and Cllr Reith should change her policy immediately to ensure we have a better system in place by September.”

Cllr Rachel Allison, who presented the Liberal Democrat call-in, added:

“It is clear that the schools and children’s centre managers – those who know how to run their services better than anyone – should have control over how the reduced money for their services is spent. Withdrawing services at North Bank, Highgate and Rokesley when they could be kept going with only small amounts of investment will be disastrous. I hope that we now see a change in direction.”

Cllr David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Deputy Chair of Overview and Scrutiny adds:

 “The presentations and contributions form school heads, governors, parents and others were well reasoned and involved no extra funding. It is clear that Cllr Reith, as long ago as 2008, had the opportunity to engage with these groups to find a sustainable funding regime. I hope she will listen to what Scrutiny said and go and fully engage with the Children’s Centre Alliance on a more appropriate and locally delivered model of service.”