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Toby Perkins MP with Stan Tomkinson, student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, who has been on work experience in Toby's constituency office

GUEST BLOG: Stan Tomkinson, student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, asks the question ‘Grammar schools, do we need them?’

Earlier this year, the Conservative party announced their plans to spend an added £50million on grammar schools. This raised the very important question of whether we should still have grammar schools.

The concept of grammar schools has been around since the 16th century, with the more recent concept of having grammar schools and secondary moderns, for those who did not meet the grammar school’s entry requirements, first being put in place in 1944. However it wasn’t long before this was changed with the Labour government in 1965 pushing local authorities to phase out these and replace them with the standard comprehensive schools, as they claimed that the system reinforced class division. This was met with resistance in some conservative counties such as Kent, where there are still a number of comprehensive schools. In 1998, Blair’s Labour government passed legislation prohibiting the creation of any more grammar schools. After this the debate had seemingly ceased and many people were willing to turn a blind eye to the remaining number of grammar schools. However, recent revelations under the Conservatives have seen the debate be reignited.

Perhaps the most prevalent argument against grammar schools is the two-tier education system they create. This is caused though many different factors, but none more so than their ability to select their students. Meaning that through the selection process they can select the most ‘academic’ students and children who are ‘likely to succeed’. With the students who have been turned away ending up in the comprehensive schools. From this alone it is clear to see the divide that is created in ability but also in mentality, with those turned away thinking they aren’t good enough, which is contrasted by the ‘you can succeed anything’ mentality of grammar schools, which, in contrast, is shown by comprehensive schools often performing worse than the national average in areas with grammar schools. And while in the 1940s those who were not accepted would often find themselves working in trades, this is no longer the case as our country has gone through significant changes since, such as the primary and secondary sectors deceasing dramatically and the huge increase in the tertiary sector’s input into our economy. This would suggest that the two-tier system that is created is no longer fit for purpose as it doesn’t fit our nations demands as many people in grammar and comprehensive schools will find themselves in the same fields of work, especially with the increased number of people taking up further education from low- income households.

Conversely, people may argue that grammar schools should be more prevalent in our education system because they get results and perform well. Which on the whole is a true and fair argument, as grammar schools perform way above the national average. For example in 2016, according to the BBC, grammar schools had 96.7% of their students achieving A* to C in at least 5 subjects, compared to the 58.1% national average. Based off these statistics it is quite clear to see the case for grammar schools. However, these should be taken with a pinch of salt as there are many factors influencing this. None less so than the fact that grammar schools hand pick the ‘brightest’ students who are deemed most likely to succeed, based off their 11 plus entry exams. These students are taught in classes, often smaller than the national average, with students of similar ability to themselves. From this it is clear to see that there is a huge difference to the mixed ability state comprehensive schools. It also remains unclear whether the grammar schools actually contribute to the students’ success, as many argue that the students who succeed in grammar schools would achieve very similar results in comprehensive schools. As their results often similar the results of the ‘brightest’ students in catchments without grammar schools, suggesting that they have little to no impact on those specially selected intake who would seemingly succeed anyway, however we cannot know this for sure.

Grammar schools can be very harming to our education system with the 11-plus exams adding a large amount of pressure on to the children who are still in primary school with this possibly removing what should be a positive learning environment. Not only this but by the time thee children take the test there is a large divide just based on prosperity. As in Kent in 2013 a child on free school meals was 5 times less likely to achieve key stage 2 results by the age of 11, than those who were not, and in turn almost identically less likely to be accepted into a grammar school. It is no secret that prosperity plays a large factor in a child’s likelihood to succeed in terms of exam results, with the most deprived often performing far worse than the most prosperous in society. Furthermore, wealth does play a large factor in the grammar school debate as they under-represent the poorest children. And a possible cause of this is the availability of private tutors to help your child pass the entry tests. Because many of the poorest cannot afford this service it allows the more wealthy children get a helping hand, creating an uneven playing field. As well as children from main-stream primary schools not being specifically taught how to pass the test adding to the inequality and creating a divide between the richest and poorest children, which is why Labour opposes them.

On the whole grammar schools are extremely divisive. They add to inequality by creating a two-tier education system and harming social mobility, as areas with a selective education system reinforce and, sometimes, increase social segregation by endangering the social cohesion between those with and those without. Not only this but dividing the most able and the rest from an early age adds to the long list of problems grammar schools have. By looking at the evidence it is clear to see the issues there are with the selective school system and how it is no longer fit for purpose. The proposal of the additional funding appears to be taking our education system back a step. And I for one would much rather see that money being used to fund the comprehensive schools that are struggling to remain open, or to improve the schools that perform the worst so that everybody has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Toby Perkins MP with Stan Tomkinson, student at  Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, who has been on work experience in Toby's constituency office

Toby Perkins MP with Stan Tomkinson, student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, who has been on work experience in Toby’s constituency office

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Toby speaking in last night

Government’s flagship disability benefit failing thousands of claimants with autism

New figures released following a Parliamentary Question by Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, have shown thousands of autistic people claiming Personal Independence Payments have wrongly been denied benefits.

Mr Perkins raised the Parliamentary Questions after a stream of constituents brought cases to him regarding loved ones with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who had been assessed by Atos and then denied Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The reply from the Department for Work & Pensions has revealed that from April 2013 to December 2018, 4060 claimants with ASD were denied PIP, but 67% had the decisions overturned upon appeal.

Mr Perkins said, “The parents and carers approaching me for support were all telling me very similar stories about the assessment process. There was false or misleading information included in the reports by Atos assessors, and no points awarded when there clearly should have been. Many of these claimants are people who struggle with communication and interacting with others, but then score no points for communication on the assessor’s report. This cannot be right. There is clearly either a deep misunderstanding of autism and the way it affects claimants, or there is deliberate attempt to deny people the benefits they need to live as independent a life as possible.”

Mr Perkins expects a significant increase in successful appeals for claimants with ASD this year, following the news that the number of people winning PIP benefit appeals has hits an all-time high in the first three months of 2018.

Mr Perkins added, “The large number of successful appeals shows that the system isn’t working and is leaving many people without the benefit payments they need for over 6 months. It is also clogging up our courts and needlessly wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxpayers’ money. This simply isn’t good enough and the Government need to get a grip on this now.”

Toby speaking in last night's debate

Figures obtained by Toby following a Parliamentary Question he asked of the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions have highlighted the scale of the problem

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Toby with volunteers at the Air Ambulance charity shop on Burlington Street

Chesterfield MP celebrates National Volunteer Week by visiting the local Air Ambulance shop

National Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place annually between 1st-7th June and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering across the UK. During this week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK.

Toby visited the local Air Ambulance Shop in Chesterfield, which turns over in excess of £110, 000 per annum and contributed almost £35, 000 to the Air Ambulance service after last year which allows two air ambulances to be operated, covering over 3850 square miles. On average they have a 13 minute response time, responding to an average of 6 missions per day. Every product sold within the shop costs only £1 and their stock ranges from clothing to DVDs.

Toby said, “I think that it’s important that we acknowledge the time and effort that the volunteers devote to such important causes that may not be able to operate without their crucial help. It was great to learn more about the Air Ambulance Shop and to see how quickly volunteers turn new donations into shop ready goods.”

In 2015, volunteering inputted more than £22.bn to the UK economy. This is about 1.2% of GDP, showing the tremendous contribution volunteers make to society.

Toby with volunteers at the Air Ambulance charity shop on Burlington Street

Toby with volunteers at the Air Ambulance charity shop on Burlington Street

There are currently 22.6 billion active volunteers that regularly help UK charities.

If you would like to find out more about the Air Ambulance you can visit their website at www.dlraa.co.uk or you can visit their shop at 20 Burlington St, Chesterfield S40 1RR.

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Toby Perkins MP backs new support group for parents of children with Autism and other mental health needs

Local Mum, Nicola Gilbert is looking to set up a support group for parents, like her, whose children have mental health needs, but do not currently fit the criteria for support from organisations like Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Nicola has recently been through the process of having her child referred to CAMHS and has found the process extremely frustrating, only to find at the end that her child does not meet the criteria for support. In addition to this, there is very little support available from elsewhere for Nicola, her child or her family. During this process, Nicola came into contact with many other parents, whose children also did not quite meet the criteria for support but also had mental health needs. This gave Nicola the idea to create a support group for parents who are in a similar situation to her so that advice and best practice can be shared between them.

For further information regarding the support group Nicola can be contacted by emailing SpaceEmpowers@gmail.com or by joining the Facebook Page SPACE – supporting parents of Anxious Children Empower.

Nicola said “The most valuable part of my journey has been meeting parents with the same frustrations and hearing their experiences. This has been hugely beneficial and the support group will give other parents the confidence to share their story. Together we will empower each other.”

Toby added “I have been in contact with CAMHS on Nicola’s behalf and I was disappointed to see that there was very little support available. During this challenging time for Children’s Mental Health services I think it is important that support is available for parents and I support Nicola in providing further support for other parents”

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Toby with Matina Loizou, Senior Policy Adviser at Parkinson’s UK and Co-Chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition

Chesterfield MP backs scrapping prescription charges for long-term conditions

 

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, has given his support to a campaign to scrap prescription charges for everyone in England with a long-term condition, as new economic analysis reveals that such a move would save the NHS millions and improve health outcomes.

The independent research by the York Health Economics Consortium, commissioned by Parkinson’s UK and Crohn’s and Colitis UK, showed savings of more than £20 million per year if the NHS scrapped prescriptions for people with Parkinson’s and Inflammatory Bowel Disease alone.

Savings would be made from a reduction in health complications due to people not taking their medication as prescribed: previous research has shown around a third of people with long term conditions who pay for prescriptions do not pick up or take their medication properly due to the cost¹.

The £20 million would be saved by reductions in hospital admissions, inpatient days, A&E visits and GP appointments.

Attending the launch of the report at Westminster on Wednesday 23rd May, Toby Perkins MP expressed his concern that not everyone with a long-term condition in England was entitled to free prescriptions, despite the projected government savings.

Toby said: “This is an extremely important report, highlighting a significant injustice to so many people with long-term conditions in England.

“The NHS has a list of conditions that exempt people from paying prescriptions, but this hasn’t been updated since its creation in 1968.

“Over the past five decades, medical progress has been astounding, but this list is stuck in the past, omitting so many conditions that were undiscovered or had very short life expectancy at the time. I am committed to ensuring people in Chesterfield with long-term conditions are treated fairly.”

The report shows that extending prescription charge exemptions to people with long-term conditions would save the NHS:

  • £93 per person with Parkinson’s per year
  • £180 per person with Inflammatory Bowel Disease per year

And would result in:

  • 789 fewer A&E visits for people with Parkinson’s
  • 3,796 fewer GP visits for people with Crohn’s Disease

Matina Loizou, Senior Policy Adviser at Parkinson’s UK and Co-Chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition, said: “No diagnosis should come with a bill – not from our NHS – and it is appalling that so many people have to pay for the privilege of having a long-term condition they certainly didn’t ask for.”

Jackie Glatter, Health Service Development Manager at Crohn’s and Colitis UK and Co-Chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition said: “The Government has freely admitted that the current prescription exemption criteria are outdated and arbitrary and this analysis clearly shows they are also a false economy.

“This broken system needs urgent reform to ensure people with long-term conditions get the vital medicines they need and to deliver value for money for the tax payer.”

Toby with Matina Loizou, Senior Policy Adviser at Parkinson’s UK and Co-Chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition

Toby with Matina Loizou, Senior Policy Adviser at Parkinson’s UK and Co-Chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition

 

 

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Toby Perkins MP: Privacy Notice and Policy following introduction of GDPR

Privacy Policy

I am the MP for Chesterfield. As your MP, it is important that I and my office can keep in touch with constituents about my work, take up casework on their behalf and ask for views on local issues.

As a Labour MP I also have access to other information which I or my office, or volunteers working with me, will use for campaigning purposes or for communicating with Labour Party members.  In respect of that information, the Labour Party is the data controller, and you should consult their privacy policy (https://labour.org.uk/privacy-policy/ ) for details of what information they hold, why, and how they use and process that information.

This page explains how I collect and use personal data, the legal basis for doing so and provides information about your rights in respect of your personal data for which I am the data controller.

My responsible officer for data protection can be contacted at williamscab@parliament.uk or on 01246 386 286.

 

Data collection and use

The office of Toby Perkins MP will only collect and use personal information for the specific purpose for which it has been obtained.

I will undertake casework using personal information provided by or on behalf of a constituent. It may be necessary for me to share your information with third party organisations. I will only do this where it is necessary and reasonable to do so, and I will share only the minimum amount of personal information necessary in order to advocate on your behalf. Please see the “who I share your information with” section for further details.

When registering with this website or by completing a form or survey sent to you by my office, you may be asked for personal information. In each case, I will ask for your explicit consent to use your information, and I will only use it for the purposes for which you provide it.

I may communicate by post, email, phone or text message about my work and to give you the latest news on my campaigns and opportunities to get involved. I have a legal entitlement to the full electoral register for my constituency, which includes the full name and address of every registered elector and I may write to you in connection with my activities as an MP.

I will only send emails, texts or contact you by telephone where you have provided explicit consent for me to do so. You may withdraw your consent or unsubscribe at any time from communications in any medium by contacting our Data Protection Officer or by using the unsubscribe option I provide in all communications.

I will not use personal data for any automated decision making or profiling.

 

Who I share your information with:

When I take up casework on your behalf, it may be necessary for me to share the details you provide with government departments, local authorities and other public bodies. I will only share as much information as is necessary to take your case forward. If you have any questions or concerns about how information you provide as part of a casework request is used, please contact my Data Protection Officer for more information.

Other than in the circumstances above, I will not share personal information with other organisations without your explicit consent.

In order to communicate with you about my work as the MP for Chesterfield it may be necessary for me to transfer personal information to countries or jurisdictions outside the EU. In each case, I will take steps to ensure that the suppliers I use comply with the General Data Protection Regulation or are subject to the Privacy Shield scheme agreed between the European Union and the United States.

 

Retention of personal data

I will only keep your personal information for as long as it is necessary to fulfil the purposes described in this policy. Information relating to casework will only be retained for as long as it is necessary to resolve or otherwise complete your request, although I may retain a minimum amount of information about closed cases in the event that you contact me again for help.

If you have consented to receive information about my work, I will only retain your personal information so long as I am the MP for Chesterfield, or you ask not to be contacted further.

I will regularly review the personal information I hold to ensure that its use is necessary and proportionate.

 

IP Addresses and Cookies

This site does not automatically capture or store personal information, other than logging the user’s IP Address or the location of your computer or network on the Internet, for systems administration and troubleshooting purposes.  I also use IP addresses in the aggregate to track which pages people visit in order to improve the quality of the site.

A cookie is a tiny text file that is stored on your computer. Cookies may be used in order to tailor your experience on this site according to the preferences you have specified. Cookies on this website do not contain personally identifiable information, other than your IP address, which itself is only very rarely enough to identify you as an individual.

 

Links to other websites:

This website contains links to other websites. I am not responsible for the content or privacy practices of these websites.

 

Your rights:

You have a number of rights in relation to your personal information and the opportunity to choose how it is used. You can:

  • Obtain copies of the personal information I hold about you (known as a “subject access request”)
  • Request that I correct or update any personal information held about you
  • Ask that we erase or restrict the way in which I use your information
  • Request that personal information you have given your consent for me to use is provided in an electronic format so it can be transferred to another data controller (also known as “data portability”)

You may opt out of receiving further communications form me in any medium at any time. All requests to unsubscribe are dealt with promptly, and in all cases within a fortnight.

If you wish to exercise your rights in respect of your personal data or have any concerns about how your data is used, please contact my Data Protection Officer:

Christopher Williams

The Office of Toby Perkins MP, 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield S40 1NF

williamscab@parliament.uk

01246 386 286

Alternatively you have right to raise any issues or concerns directly with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

 

 

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Toby at the launch of the new Taskforce for Lung Health

New Taskforce for Lung Health launched with help of Chesterfield MP

A new Taskforce to help raise awareness of lung health and maintaining healthy lungs has received the backing of Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins.

The ‘Taskforce for Lung Health’ brings together 25 representatives from across the lung health sector including patients, voluntary sector, professional associations, primary and secondary healthcare. The aim of the Taskforce is to develop a single five-year plan for improving lung health in England, endorsed by the whole respiratory community.

Toby said, “People often don’t realise how many people are affected by lung conditions. In Chesterfield, there are over 7,000 people living with asthma and over 2,500 with COPD. These conditions can have a debilitating effect on people’s ability to lead an active life and contribute towards other health complications. We need a better understanding of how to maintain healthy lungs, and greater awareness of what treatments are available if we do have a lung condition.”

Respiratory disease is one of the top three killers in the UK with 1 in 5 people diagnosed with a lung condition at some point in their lives and 115,000 people dying each year as a result of lung disease. It is estimated that the NHS spends £9.9billion each year on lung disease, including lung cancer and respiratory infections, making it the fourth most costly disease area.

Toby added, “We have seen huge strides made in the past by reducing smoking and related diseases, but the British Lung Foundation (BFL) have highlighted that there has been very little improvement in the number of people dying from lung disease over the last ten years. This is of particular concern to me as figures from the BFL show that compared to the national average, people living in the Chesterfield are 8% more likely to die from asthma, 11% more likely to die from COPD, and 7% more likely to die from lung cancer.  I fully support the new Taskforce which will hopefully identify what needs to change in how we prevent, diagnose and treat lung disease and prevent early deaths.”

Toby at the launch of the new Taskforce for Lung Health

Toby at the launch of the new Taskforce for Lung Health

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Toby with Chesterfield resident, Craig Kennady

Westminster Commission calls for better protections for people with autism

A new report by the Westminster Commission on Autism has highlighted an increase in potentially harmful interventions and treatments for people with Autism. Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, attended the launch of the new report and is calling for greater regulation to combat the problem.

Toby said, “The Commission has been doing important work for many years with one of Chesterfield’s own residents, Craig Kennady, being a member and helping produce this report. The report has shown that autistic people and their carers have had a range of dangerous and unsubstantiated products and therapies offered to them, often presented as a ‘cure’. People have reported being offered homeopathy, crystal therapy, spiritual intervention, aromatherapy, diets and many other interventions that are not only of no use, but can be harmful. There is no cure to autism, people just need the right support and understanding to manage it.”

The Commission has called on the Government to convene all agencies with regulatory responsibility to identify the current gaps in regulation and ensure that potentially harmful treatments and  interventions are covered by legislation.

Toby added, “There are clearly a lot of fraudsters out there looking to exploit people on the autism spectrum and our regulatory bodies need the powers to clamp down on it. We also need a better understanding and awareness of autism to make society a safer space for all autistic people”.

Toby with Chesterfield resident, Craig Kennady

Toby with Chesterfield resident, Craig Kennady

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

Surgeries

I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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