Welcome To My August Newsletter

Welcome to my August newsletter. Parliament is currently in recess (ie not sitting), so while I may not be in Westminster, it does not mean that my work for you has stopped. It has been good to spend more time back in Luton focusing on constituency issues.

Obviously, the past couple of weeks have been dominated by the government's A-level results fiasco. It was pitiful to hear the government insisting that the Ofqual algorithm had delivered "robust" and fair results before bowing to public and political pressure to u-turn when it became clear that this was not the case and was in fact a system which would exacerbate existing educational inequalities.

 It was totally unfair to see Luton Sixth Form College students have around 40% of their grades downgraded whilst many students of fee-paying schools having their grades go up. Many local students wrote to me telling me how they had been unfairly impacted and that they were finding the situation incredibly stressful as it would affect their ability to go to their chosen University. In response I wrote to the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson urging the government to revert to the teacher recommended Centre Assessed Grade (CAGs). Following a weekend of uncertainty and confusion the government finally agreed to revert to CAGs and admitted they had got it wrong.

Although I welcome the government’s decision it does not completely resolve the issues facing Luton's students, as there is confusion over the appeals process and many universities have already allocated places to other students. I will continue to do whatever I can to support Luton South students though this difficult period and promise to stand with next year’s students too.

Visit to Denbigh High School

This week I was invited to visit my old school Denbigh High School and met with Chiltern Learning Trust CEO Adrian Rogers, to discuss their schools and education within Luton South. We discussed GCSE results and how the government’s handling of grading would affect Luton children. We also talked about the role of multi-academy trusts in the school system and how greater local accountability could be developed. I was pleased to hear how well the pupils are performing in GCSE's and in the school’s outstanding Ofsted. It was good to hear that the rebuild of Putteridge High School is progressing as planned and am looking forward to touring the facilities once they are completed.

My time Parliament so far

The parliamentary recess has provided an opportunity to reflect on my first 8 months in Parliament. It has not been the most typical introduction to parliamentary life with the coronavirus pandemic forcing us all to adapt to new ways of working very quickly.  To help visualise how I have been doing the House of Commons Library have created the above graphic showing my most used words in the chamber. As you can see, I have tackled a diverse range of topics but Luton is the thread that binds everything together.
Visiting Luton South Farmers

It can surprise some people when I say that I have a number of farms in my constituency of Luton South! Recently I visited Manor Farm (on the outskirts of Stopsley) to meet with local farmers and representatives from the National Farmers Union to learn more about the issues that affect them. One of the key points raised was that of food standards after we leave the EU and concerns that UK produce will be undercut by imports that don’t abide by the same environmental and animal welfare standards that UK farmers must adhere to. Many of you have also been in touch worried that UK will forced to accept sub-standard animal welfare as part of any future trade deals. I asked the government about this in July but did not receive a clear answer so will continue to push this issue.
Survey Corner

My last survey asked about your confidence in the easing of lockdown restrictions. The results were as follows:

- 72% of you felt more confident about visiting shops now that facemasks are compulsory

- 54% has not visited a pub or a restaurant since they reopened

- 64% of you were very doubtful that the government was prepeared for a second wave of the virus.

My next survey concerns the economic impact of COVID-19 on you and your families. You can take part here.

Find out more

Earlier this month I was pleased to join the Unite demonstration at the airport calling on government to provide a bespoke deal for the aviation industry. Thousands of jobs depend upon aviation and the government must act now.
It has been a year since the revocation of article 370 and Jammu Kashmir was put into lockdown. In July I asked the government when they would be scheduling a parliamentary debate on this important matter.
During these difficult times Luton Foodbank has been ensuring nobody goes hungry by continuing to provide hundreds of families with vital food parcels. As a regular volunteer I see first-hand the important support the Foodbank provides. Please see here how you can donate to the Foodbank.
I would like to congratulate Luton Town FC on their Championship survival in a thrilling end to the season. I look forward to the start of the new season in a few week and hope that fans will be able to return to Kenilworth Road as soon as possible.
Rachel Hopkins MP for Luton South