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european community documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Committees),

Insolvency and Second Chances

Question agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I propose to put motions 7 and 8 together.

delegated legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Local Government

National Health Service

Question agreed to.

26 Mar 2008 : Column 294

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I propose to put motions 9 to 12 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Children and Young Persons

Town and Country Planning

Betting, Gaming and Lotteries

Question agreed to .

business of the house





Hugh Sexey's Hospital

7.17 pm

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I am pleased to have the opportunity to present a petition on the subject of the future of primary care, and I am indebted to my constituent, Mr. Ted Damamme, who raised the petition with fellow residents of the historic Hugh Sexey’s hospital in Bruton. The petition is signed by the master of Hugh Sexey’s hospital, the Right Reverend Neville Chamberlain, and the other residents. It expresses concern that I share, despite the reassurances of Ministers, that a policy of introducing polyclinics, particularly in rural areas, will do irreparable damage to general practice, which is so much appreciated.

The petition states:


Means Tested Benefits

7.19 pm

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): I am pleased to submit a petition on adjusting the permitted earnings disregard. The petition is presented on behalf of FOCUS, or Freedom of Choice United Services, which is an organisation within the Richmond Fellowship Scotland that campaigns to challenge stigma and improve the conditions of people on incapacity benefit. The petition, which has been signed by 3,512 people to date, seeks to help people on mean-tested incapacity benefit by raising the permitted earnings disregard. Raising the earnings disregard will allow people receiving the benefit to work and to earn more, by easing the limits placed on them in the work place. The petition states:


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Co-operative Model in Education (Portsmouth)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mr. David.]

7.21 pm

Sarah McCarthy-Fry (Portsmouth, North) (Lab/Co-op): I am grateful for the opportunity to raise a matter that is very important indeed, namely how we can use co-operative values to improve education in such places as Portsmouth. I am very pleased that we have opened the first co-operative trust school, at Reddish Vale technology college. I want to explore whether this approach would help to raise educational attainment in my constituency of Portsmouth, North.

Nowhere is education more important than in such cities as Portsmouth, where throughout the ’80s and early ’90s too many of our young people were denied their chance in life, held back by crumbling schools and chronic underinvestment from central Government. Too many people who, given the opportunity, would have gone far were left without qualifications or skills.

It is fair to say that since 1997 the situation has markedly improved. In Portsmouth, planning has begun on a five-year project to redesign, rebuild, refurbish or remodel all the city’s secondary schools between now and 2012, as part of the Building Schools for the Future project. Results are improving, too. In 1997, only 26 per cent. of our young people in Portsmouth, North got five good GCSEs. That figure has now doubled to 54 per cent., but that means that nearly half our young people are still missing out.

The issue is not just about qualifications; it is about self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence, about giving young people the belief that they, too, can succeed—the self-belief that in many middle-class homes is instilled from the very start. Still too many young people in Portsmouth think that university is the preserve of the middle classes and something that “isn’t for them”. Too many still leave school to take low-paid work, with no prospect of training or advancement.

Education is vital—too vital, I think, to be left to the academic world alone. Mutuo, the co-operative think-tank, has suggested that

I wholeheartedly agree. City academies and trust schools go some of the way, but for them really to work, they must be truly accountable. That is where co-operative principles come in. With the move towards trust schools, there is a unique opportunity for co-operatives to influence and develop schools further, to build on existing experience and to forge closer links with the local community. Parents, teachers and local people would all have the opportunity to become trust members and would all be able to have their say about daily decisions and the priorities of most importance to them.

One of the biggest challenges, especially in socially deprived areas, is ensuring that parents have the confidence and the skills to play their part. If the parents have had a bad experience in school, they are understandably reluctant to come forward. The modern co-operative movement has a proud record of community participation
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and involvement over its long history. Co-operative trust schools will be able to draw on considerable experiences to deliver results.

By the end of last year, some 300 schools across England were either trust schools or in the pipeline to become trust schools. In my view, through greater collaboration and through mergers of successful schools, we can pave the way to achieving the rising standards that we seek.

For the co-operative movement, engagement with education is nothing new. Education and opportunity have been driving co-operative ideals since the very beginning. Education was one of the guiding principles of the Rochdale pioneers, who are generally regarded as the founders of the modern co-operative movement. As co-operative societies became successful, they quickly developed their own educational programmes, together with reading rooms, libraries, meeting halls, and social and cultural activities. By the late 19th century, they had created national structures to share resources and materials, and had introduced classes, study programmes and examinations for members. They pioneered correspondence courses and study circles, formed their own college, and supported the development of co-operative colleges in many other parts of the world. Active engagement and a clear set of values that resonated with the schools were the formulae for success.

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): I am grateful to my hon. Friend and fellow Labour/Co-operative MP for giving way. She is perhaps about to mention the fact that the co-operative movement also developed its own political party, a sister party to the Labour party. Is she surprised that, on the Benches opposite, where there has been a recent expression—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. It is out of order, in an Adjournment debate of this kind, to make a point of that nature. This is a personal motion that has been brought forward by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, North (Sarah McCarthy-Fry).

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. That is a point that I might come back to later in my speech.

The set of values and commitment to active engagement was also one of the reasons why many of the schools became part of the network and clearly wanted to work with co-operative enterprises. But what does a co-operative model mean for education in the early part of the 21st century? Are co-operative values still relevant? I believe so. By harnessing co-operative values in education, we can raise standards and ensure greater parental and community involvement. A co-operative model means that, rather than pitting school against school, we can increase collaboration and co-operation among schools in order to share best practice and resources. My right hon. Friend and fellow co-operator the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families has suggested that there is

in education, and I quite agree. If we think about what makes a good school, it is clear that the involvement of teachers, pupils, parents and the community is what makes that good school successful. It is precisely this involvement that co-operative values are able to instil.

26 Mar 2008 : Column 298

One of the reasons that I am proud to be a Labour and Co-operative MP is that co-operative socialism is not just a lofty set of ideals divorced from everyday life, but practical politics with a strong history of delivery. Building on its strong and long-standing commitment to education, the co-operative and mutual sector is now actively engaged with a number of schools. It is working with a number of specialist business and enterprise colleges, and is playing a key part in the Manchester academy programme.

By instilling co-operative values and ideas into the curriculum, schools have seen a dramatic effect, significantly enriching the experiences of young people. Levels of student attainment and Ofsted reports clearly demonstrate the benefits of using co-operative values to deliver the breadth of curriculum areas and personal development. Schools using the values as a framework have made exceptional progress in raising levels of achievement. For example, Sir Thomas Boughey high school and co-operative business and enterprise college in Staffordshire has raised the proportion of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs from 46 per cent. in 2004 to 79 per cent. in 2007.

As I said earlier, as well as instilling co-operative values as part of the curriculum, the first co-operative trust school has now opened at Reddish Vale technology college. It is the first of its kind in the UK to be based on a mutual structure, with a wide range of organisations focusing on education and training, employability and local regeneration. Jenny Campbell, the head teacher of Reddish Vale, has said:

There is now a clear potential to develop these new models for trust schools—

Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton) (Lab/Co-op): May I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this important Adjournment debate? Does she welcome the fact that there is an application in for a co-operative trust in a performing arts school, the Lipson community college in Plymouth, which will build real community cohesion in a way that Conservative Members, on the basis of the spin we hear from them, simply cannot hope to achieve?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention and I am very pleased to hear about those developments in Plymouth. Perhaps if we can get a similar model in Portsmouth, we can draw on Plymouth’s experiences to help us to move it forward.

We have seen new mutuals in other parts of the UK public sector—leisure trusts and foundation hospital trusts, for example, which are models built on traditional public sector values. They are rooted in and actively engage the local community in running key services.

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