I hope this finds you well. It’s been another busy month in London, but when I’m on my way back and the towers of the Humber Bridge come into view I get that lovely feeling knowing I’m nearly home. There really is something special about the people around here and once again I’ve had the privilege to meet some inspiring residents doing great things in their community.
The Great Get Together
The event took place at Constable Street Community Allotments with Friends of Constable Street Fields and it’s safe to say everyone had a great time. The weather was hot, but we had plenty of shade under the gazebos and a beautiful tree. The Humberside Fire and rescue turned up with an engine then got a callout, but thankfully it wasn’t serious and they returned later, so all the children who wanted to climb into the seats look at the equipment and try on a fire-fighters helmet got their chance.
We had great entertainment from the musicians who came to play, The Snake Oil Charmers and The Cox Brothers – it was like our own mini-Glastonbury – so a massive thanks to them. The Tigers Trust were running footballing sessions on the field next door, Butterfly City had brought seeds, pots and soil for children to grow their own butterfly-friendly plants and Hull Food Partnership were there giving advice on eating and growing healthy food.
Thanks to MS3 for helping to support the event with free food and bug-hunting kits for children to discover all the little creatures thriving in the allotments. Thanks to the “no-dig” and organic approach to growing, there were plenty to find. Butterfly City also recorded five different species of butterfly and one day-flying moth. It was a lovely day and a fitting tribute to Jo Cox, in whose memory this annual event honours.
Support for the victims of war in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine is still going on, and the people there still need support, especially in the areas affected by the appalling destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam by Russian troops, which has left 200,000 without drinking water.
I visited the new Hull4Ukraine donations hub last month Whitefriargate, Hull. It was lovely to meet the volunteers down there who are doing an amazing job collecting items to send. They still need more items such as sleeping bags, personal hygiene products, basic medicines as well as clothing so please donate at the hub or online using https://hull4ukraine.org/ Any help will really go a long way.
P.A.U.L. for Brain Recovery
Sir Chris Bryant was in Hull last month for a Labour Party event. He is a passionate campaigner for better treatment of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and had a big hand in persuading the Department of Health and Social Care to produce a strategy which is now awaiting publication, so I took the opportunity to introduce him to the incredible people at P.A.U.L. for Brain Recovery.
P.A.U.L. for Brain Recovery are a Hull-based charity that provides support for people with ABI, along with their families, on all aspects of rehabilitation and adjustment. Sir Chris was just as impressed as I am with the all-round support they provide, and the structured way it is done. Their services are much sought after, and I am helping them seek further support to help more people in the East Riding and South Bank.
SATS and assessment
I know from my time as a primary teacher and from the many conversations I’ve had with parents since, just how stressful the SATS and the regime of continuous testing it encourages can be for children. I’ve been working with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for schools, learning and assessment, gathering evidence on the effectiveness of SATS in making judgments on a school and on the quality of the education a child is receiving.
The problem seems to be that if you are going to decide the success or failure of a school on an all-or-nothing set of exams, then it is impossible to avoid the problems of schools concentrating on “teaching-to-the-test” and trying to get children to score as high as possible. This can only come at the expense of broader learning and a more relaxed experience. At a time where more children appear to be suffering with anxiety and other mental health issues, and schools are struggling to retain staff, another way is needed.
To that end, the inquiry has also been hearing evidence on ways of assessing what children have learned and understand in ways that can provide the information we need to be sure our children are getting the education they need, but without the added stress for them and their schools. The APPG will be publishing its Report soon.
Kingston upon Hull West and Haltemprice Borough
Last month I was able to announce being chosen as the Labour candidate for a new constituency based around the old one of Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle. The new boundaries have now been officially announced along with its new name: the constituency of Kingston upon Hull West and Haltemprice Borough.
I think it’s worth repeating that if you live in any of the new wards, and you’d like to get to know more about helping with campaigning, then please drop me a message and I’ll get in touch. Similarly, if you know anyone in the new wards who might be interested in receiving this newsletter, please let them know.
I have already had an ex-pupil get in touch and offer to help, which is amazing – although their age took me by surprise a bit – how time flies!
Once again, until the next General Election I remain the MP for the original constituency of Hull West and Hessle and I will carry on working my hardest to give everyone the best representation I can.
As always, please feel free to share this letter with anyone you think might be interested. I will be doing as much as I can to offer assistance and advice over the coming months and represent the constituency in Parliament; please do not hesitate to contact me if you think I can help.