Clearly the past few days have been regrettable and I’m well aware of the stress and anxiety this has caused a number of my young constituents who have worked very hard for their A levels (many of whom my office has been supporting over the past few days). Any approach to awarding exam grades at a time when exams have been cancelled comes with its own shortcomings and this will be the case with this new approach also.
However, in light of the events over the past few days I think this was the correct decision. Ofqual were responsible for developing the algorithm for awarding grades and to say that I’ve been concerned about some of the patterns that have been emerging would be an understatement and many of the stories I’ve heard have been worrying. It’s positive news that GCSE students have this certainty ahead of receiving their grades this week and that hopefully the kind of upset and anxiety we’ve seen this week can be avoided.
Wherever exam results are handed out it won’t always be good news for everyone and there will always be some that will be disappointed however at the very least the whole system needs to be underpinned by a sense of fairness. I do have concerns about grade inflation and clearly teachers predicting grades isn’t the same as students actually sitting and passing exams but in the absence of exams and the shortcomings of Ofqual’s algorithm there appears to be no alternative. I have been communicating my concerns to Ministers over the past couple of days following discussions with constituents and I’m glad this announcement has been made.
Thanks to all those who let me know their views on the ‘orange wands’ which have been popping up on Ipswich’s roads. It’s clear from the responses that these bollards are almost universally unpopular with cyclists and motorists alike. And I’ve now written to Suffolk County Council to call for them to be taken down and under no circumstances made permanent.
I agree with many of the comments people have made, particularly the concerns around whether these bollards actually make our roads less safe in a number of cases and the impact on emergency vehicles. I’ve included many of these concerns in the letter but it’s disappointing that a lack of consultation on these changes meant these concerns weren’t properly heard before public money was spent.
I’ll follow up with County Council to make sure this issue is addressed.
Bit surprised to have been nominated by constituents for the MP of the Year Awards for my work on supporting children with SEND. I wasn’t aware of this awards scheme before being nominated but it’s a good opportunity to keep raising the profile of the issues affecting these children.
It’s an honour to have been nominated for this award. But actually delivering more support for children with SEND will remain the only measure of success that matters to me.
You can vote in the awards here: https://patchworkfoundation.org.uk/peoples_choice_2020_votesopen/
I went on BBC Radio Suffolk this afternoon to talk about the unacceptable surge in illegal channel crossings and the letter I sent with 22 other Conservative MPs calling on the Home Secretary to take action so that illegal migrants are immediately returned.
I like many am completely fed up with the lawlessness in the Channel and the slap in the face it represents to the law-abiding people of this country and genuine asylum seekers who wish to come to this country legally. All of those who try to come here illegally across the Channel have left a safe European Country to do so and there is absolutely no justification for them to break our laws to get to the UK.
As we set out in our letter, action, not words, is what is needed now. It’s been over four years since we voted to take back control of our borders but our hands are still tied by EU and international rules which don’t allow us to put the people of this country first.
It is good that after the letter we sent, the Prime Minister has said we need to look at changing the law and efforts are underway to get the French to do more. But I’m also clear that our ability to control our borders must not be dependent on the whim of France or any other third country. We must be prepared to turn all illegal boats around and escort them back to France. These dangerous crossings will only stop when we have made it completely clear that all attempts will be futile as the Australians did when they were confronted with a similar problem.
I’ll keep working with other MPs to secure swift action and ensure this issue is treated with the seriousness it deserves and the public expects.
This week I’ve written about the pressing need for pet theft reform and how this campaign has become even more important during the Covid-19 lockdown. Cases of pet theft have increased significantly since lockdown begun, robbing people of their pets just when their companionship is needed most.
This cruel crime causes great distress to victims which can stay with them for years but the theft of a pet is currently treated under the law in the same way as the theft of an inanimate object like a mobile phone. This means that pet thieves, if caught, often only receive pitiful fines of no more than £250. We must make pet theft a specific offence under the Theft Act so prison sentences of up to 2 years become more readily available to judges. The current punishments clearly don’t represent justice for victims or a sufficient deterrent to stop pet theft from continuing to rise.
Following my virtual discussion with campaigners behind the pet theft reform petition last month, we have now received a written response from the Government which says that they have no plans to change the law. This is disappointing but it’s no means the end of the campaign. I’ve asked Ministers to meet with me directly to discuss this issue and I’ll be calling for a debate on pet theft reform in Parliament at the earliest opportunity. The status quo doesn’t reflect how important our pets are to us and needs to change.