|Monday, 27 February 2006 16:33|
Last week was the parliamentary
recess, so it was a quieter week than normal. However, it did provide a
good opportunity for me to catch up with a variety of things in my in tray that
On Monday 20th, I had my usual drop in surgery in Balham Community Centre on Bedford Hill. I then did a quick interview for a satellite TV station on the comprehensive ban on smoking which parliament had historically agreed to the week previously.
The Education White Paper has had a lot of publicity in the national press, mainly to do with a potential rebellion by Labour MPs. However, the White Paper is important and does include many proposals to make further progress on improving our schools. On Tuesday, I organised a meeting with Lord Adonis (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools at the Department for Education and Skills) to meet directly with the head teachers of the four secondary schools in my constituency, so he could explain in more detail the White Paper as well as giving the heads the opportunity to seek further clarification and raise any issues they had. The meeting proved to be extremely useful.
Under the new proposals there would be opportunities for the schools in Tooting to federate together which allows greater co-operation, and specifically would allow the possibility of more co-operation among the schools on admissions policies. The meeting also revealed that these new reforms will in fact to a large degree liberate the schools in Tooting from the control of the Tory council on admissions, ethos and funding. The Heads also raised the fact that parents’ perceptions of a school were important, and that some of this perception is driven by how school buildings look. Lord Adonis was concerned to hear that the schools in Wandsworth were not receiving all funds from the Building Schools for the Future Programme and the Dedicated Schools Budget that they were entitled to and promised to go and investigate what was impeding this.
On Wednesday, I chaired the termly governing body meeting of Gatton Primary School. The meeting was the first one held in the new premises on Gatton Road. The governors had the opportunity to have a tour of the new buildings. The Head Teacher was able to report that within the space of a few weeks, there had already been significant improvements in children’s attitudes towards school and lessons.
In the evening, I attended the Annual General Meeting of my Constituency Labour Party.
On Thursday, I attended a meeting with the Chair of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, and other senior members of the board to discuss plans by Springfield Hospital to regenerate the site. A number of the buildings that are being used were built in Victorian times, and are completely unacceptable to treat patients in the 21st century. The poor accommodation has a profound impact on patient well being, staff recruitment and retention, and the number and severity of incidents on inpatient wards. The plans are still being formulated and the Hospital is consulting key local stakeholders.
On Saturday, I attended a coffee morning and bring and buy sale at the Furzedown Project in Moyser Road. The morning began with a fantastic performance by the Great Gustos, who are local Furzedown residents who perform a capella. More details about the Project here.
I also joined Furzedown campaign team to collect signatures in their campaign for a One o’clock club. You can sign this online here.
On Sunday, I joined Labour Party colleagues in canvassing in Tooting ward.
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