The Education and Skills Funding Agency has announced the outcome of the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) 2018 to 2019.
The core priority of CIF is keeping academy and sixth form college buildings safe and in good working order. Most CIF funding aims to address issues with significant consequences that revenue or Devolved Formula Capital funding cannot meet. These include issues with poor building condition, building compliance, energy efficiency and health and safety.
CIF also supports a small proportion expansion projects for Ofsted-rated good or outstanding academies and sixth-form colleges that need to expand their existing provision to either increase the number of admissions in the main year of entry or address overcrowding.
CIF received requests for more than £1.5 billion across 4,600 projects in this year’s round. Following their assessment, they have announced £514 million to cover 1,556 projects at 1,299 academies and sixth-form colleges.
This investment forms part of the government’s plan to ensure that every child has the opportunity of a place at a good school, whatever their background.
I am delighted that Sutton schools have benefited from the CIF with Cheam Common Junior Academy, Glenthorne High School and Sutton Grammar School all being successful in their bids to the CIF.
I was delighted to open a brand new specialist school to support children and young people who are on the autism spectrum.
Brookways School is the latest to be opened by Kedleston Group, providing education and support for boys and girls who may have complex needs. The school is based in North Cheam and has opened its doors following a successful registration inspection by Ofsted.
The independent specialist school offers places to children aged between seven and 16 with autism, including Asperger’s Syndrome, higher functioning autism, social emotional and mental health issues, ADHD and other challenges. The school supports young people for whom other education environments have not been able to meet their needs.
Head Teacher Melanie Whitfield is an experienced ASC practitioner and her vision for Brookways is for it to provide a vibrant learning space where up to 40 children can receive the educational and additional support they need to help them achieve their full potential. Additional therapeutic support such as including occupational therapy and speech and language therapy will be available “in-house”.
Melanie and a number of her key team members previously worked within the specialist autism provision of sister school Leaways, also operated by Kedleston Group, and helped the school achieve an Outstanding judgement from Ofsted.
She said: “We are very lucky here at Brookways. We have a really experienced team who have worked extensively with young people on the autism spectrum and their families to create educational environments and plans which suit the individual needs of the child.
“Before opening Brookways, we worked with our architects and building teams to ensure the environment here at the school was built in a bespoke way, creating learning spaces which are calm and welcoming and which take into account the sensory and other needs of the children learning here.
“The school environment should be enabling for young people with consideration on colour, lighting and other elements. Brookways offers all of these including muted colour schemes, specialist lighting, individual work stations and visual communication.
“Classes here at Brookways are small and the curriculum, broadly following the National Curriculum, is tailored to individual needs and interests, but with a focus on supporting children to achieve meaningful qualifications and learning skills to support life outside of school and to move into further education and work. Social and communication skills are embedded in the curriculum with timetabled lessons focusing on social skills, turn taking, listening and responding.
“We’re thrilled the school has been registered and that we are able to support young people and their families.”
It was a pleasure to see the new facilities that will be so vital to children who are on the autistic spectrum and thank you especially to Ben who showed me around.
A deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates and slash the amount of waste polluting our land and seas will be introduced subject to consultation later this year.
UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment.
The consultation will look at the details of how such a scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates. We hope to talk to the devolved administrations about the scope for working together on this important issue.
Similar schemes already operate in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany. A deposit return scheme sees consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container. Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit.
This is often done through a network of ‘reverse vending machines’, where you insert your plastic or glass bottle or can and the machine returns your money. Once a bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled – a move that has led to a 97% recycling rate in Germany.
This announcement is the latest move in the government crackdown on plastic, following the plastic microbead ban hailed as one of the world’s strongest bans and the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to 9 billion fewer bags distributed. It also follows the recent call for evidence by HM Treasury on taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics, so that all relevant findings can be fed into the proposals.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats. It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.
“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”
The amount of waste polluting our land and seas remains a great source of frustration for residents all over Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park. It’s one of the biggest issues that’s raised with me when residents get in touch.
We are working to leave our planet in a better state for the next generation, with cleaner air, greener spaces, stronger protections for animal welfare and tougher action on plastic waste.
I am supporting the Rail Delivery Group’s initiative, on behalf of Britain’s train companies, to raise awareness about a travel discount card that helps lower the cost of finding work.
The Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card is available to eligible people in England, Wales and Scotland who have been out of work for 12 weeks or longer. It offers jobseekers a 50% discount on train fares as they travel to interviews, to the Jobcentre or to and from training, for up to three months at a time.
Nationally, between March 2017 and March 2018, 518,822 discounted journeys were made by jobseekers, with 2270 jobseekers having taken advantage of the discount card’s benefits in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park.
It is great to see the train companies and Jobcentre Plus working together to give jobseekers a helping hand. The cost of travel can sometimes be a barrier to getting to interviews and training, however it is initiatives like these that are making the difference in getting people into work. I will continue to support the Rail Delivery Group in raising awareness for this scheme.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Getting more people into work is part of our long‐term plan to change and improve. The partnership railway is committed to spreading economic prosperity across the country. Over half a million discounted journeys were made in the last year but we want to make sure that everyone who is eligible to discounted journeys, in all parts of the country, know about the discounts available.”
To apply for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card you will need to visit your local Jobcentre Plus office.
Spire St Anthony’s hospital celebrated the official opening of the Marie Therese ward following a £1 million refurbishment. I was delighted to be invited to cut the ribbon in the presence of former patient, Clare Park and orthopaedic consultant Mr Phillip Mitchell.
I am always please to see investments being made into healthcare facilities here, so it is wonderful to be able to officially open the recently refurbished ward, to meet the patients and see the artwork created by Clare.
Clare is a former professional ballet dancer turned award winning fine art photographer. Her work has been widely exhibited in permanent collections at the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A Royal Photographic Society Collection. The picture chosen by the team for the ward, typifies the characteristics of Clare’s work, her strong personal style and the focus on movement.
Clare underwent two hip replacements at Spire St Anthony’s Hospital in 2017 under the care of consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Phillip Mitchell. Despite being only 60 years old, Clare had already endured many years of intense pain and was told she needed new hips back in 2003. She delayed surgery and coped with the pain for many years by trying to ‘exercise out of it’, whilst caring for her mother and then her father. It was only when her father died that she decided it was time to address the problem.
Clare explains: “I was in an enormous amount of pain and I couldn’t walk, sleep or even eat properly. When my late father died I decided it was time to put it off no longer. I was at my lowest state of mind and body and knew I had no choice but to grit my teeth and seek help.
“I was recommended to see Mr Mitchell by my GP and from the first consultation at St Anthony’s I was able to put my trust fully into his skilful hands. When you enter the hospital it delivers an extremely friendly, organised and encouraging sense of purpose. As an anxious patient Mr Mitchell’s calm manner and his anaesthetist Dr Kidd’s positivity, immediately put me at ease. The wonderful nursing care got me through it emotionally and physically. It was still quite traumatic for me, but I felt loved and supported throughout my treatment and recovery. There were at least 20 people in total looking after me and I’d like to thank each and every one of them. All the nurses were just incredible, so patient and so expert.
“The operations were a huge success and my life has been transformed by the exceptional skill, commitment and kindness of everyone working in this hospital.”
Bryan Harty, Hospital Director at Spire St Anthony’s, is very pleased with the refurbishment, which includes one of Clare’s photographs: “This project is one of many going on at the hospital, but this refurbishment was undertaken following consideration of patient feedback about the hospital environment.
“The ward is named after Mere Marie Therese who founded the Daughters of the Cross back in the 1800s. We pride ourselves on the quality of the nursing care and dedication the team provides at this hospital and we will always strive to maintain the tradition St Anthony’s is renowned for.
“We have just invested £2.7 million in a new MRI scanner and more investment is planned as this hospital increasingly attracts the best surgeons and addresses the needs of patients who travel to us from the local area and right across the UK”.