Tom on education (16/12)

The last four weeks for me have had a strong focus on education. All in all I’ve visited five secondary schools, meeting with the head teacher at each. These meetings have been extremely useful and have given me a real insight into the challenges there are within our schools.

During my meetings a number of themes have emerged that I plan to raise with the appropriate people and Government organisations over the comings months. Teacher recruitment and retention seems to be an issue at many of our schools. Yes this is a national problem also but there do seem to be some factors specific to Ipswich that need to be addressed. It’s important that being a teacher in Ipswich schools is as attractive as possible. Great teachers should be attracted to come to Ipswich and its about finding a way of making teaching in Ipswich schools as appealing as possible. It’s not good that many of our Head’s are constantly worried about losing some of their best teachers.

Last year it was announced that Ipswich would be an Education Opportunity Area. In short this is bringing millions of pounds of extra Government money into schools in Ipswich. This needs to be welcomed. I’ve been very interested to learn about some of the ways this extra money has been spent. Some excellent initiatives have been launched in Ipswich schools as a result of the Government making Ipswich and Education Opportunity Area. However, concerns were also raised about the strings attached with accessing the funding. My view is that we need to trust our teachers to get on with the job of investing the extra money in initiatives they know will work for their school. Yes there needs to be sound process but we need to minimize the bureaucratic burden placed upon teachers who are already under a significant amount of pressure.

Unsurprisingly, each of the head teachers also raised concerns about county lines. It’s sickening that many young vulnerable people in Ipswich can become the victim to this. The only way that we can hope to tackle this is by working together. Multi agency. Close working and strong relationships between school leaders and the police is an absolute must. The pastoral support provided by schools in many cases appears to be very strong. However, its important that teachers should be able to focus fully on the teaching. The pressure on teachers in our schools is significant and their roles more diverse than many seem to realise.

In summary then there is much to be positive about. We have some great teachers and in general all the schools I’ve visited appear to be heading in the right direction and improving. However they face many challenges. Funding, teacher recruitment and retention, county lines being three that immediately spring to mind. Our secondary schools vary as do their intakes and some of the challenges they face are therefore different. My initial view is that Suffolk schools need fairer funding from central Government, there needs to be more initiatives and thought given to make teaching in Ipswich schools as attractive as possible (financial incentives may need to be considered), and there needs to be strong and close working relationships between the schools and the police when it comes to county lines and other anti-social behaviour problems. Ideally there needs to be one person within the police who is responsible for liaison with a particular school. Its important that senior teachers are able to develop close relationships based on trust with the local police.

The Education Opportunity Area for Ipswich will last for three years and we’re one year in. The funding is very welcome but at its best the initiative could be transformational for Ipswich schools. It’s important that one year in the concerns teachers have raised associated with the bidding process are addressed. We need to ensure that the initiative is a game changer for schools in Ipswich and a real catalyst for the future. The opportunity should not be missed.

I have almost finished my tour of secondary schools within Ipswich at which point I will start visiting some of our primary schools. This Friday I will also be meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk.TomSchool

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Tom on the Northern Route

The overwhelming transport infrastructure priority for Ipswich is a northern relief road. Over the past month it’s been made clear to me whoever I’ve spoken to just how important this is for the Town. The reality is that this infrastructure should have been delivered 20/30 years ago but it hasn’t and the people of Ipswich have paid the price for this through increasing levels of traffic.

As long as I’ve been alive the whole of East Anglia hasn’t received the level of investment it needs to upgrade its transport infrastructure. This is definitely the case in Ipswich. Whatever the colour of the Government of the day, the adequate level of investment in transport infrastructure hasn’t been forthcoming. Challenging this is a key priority for me.

I have already met with the Leader of Suffolk County Council, Councillor Matthew Hicks to impress upon him the importance of the road for Ipswich and have a number of further meetings arranged over the next few weeks with other key stakeholders. Securing the investment for this road won’t be easy but my view is that we need to be ambitious in demanding Ipswich’s fair share when it comes to infrastructure investment.

I welcome the fact that in this year’s budget statement the Government have made £30 billion available for road upgrades across the country. East Anglia must get its fair share of this investment and a northern relief road for Ipswich must be near the top of the list of regional priorities.

I pledge to the people of Ipswich that over the coming years, as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary candidate I will fight tooth and nail to get action on this issue! I strongly believe that I have the skills, drive and knowledge to make an impact.

Over the coming months I will provide regular updates regarding where I’m at regarding the campaign following the meetings I currently have in my diary.northern-route

WE HAVE A CONSERVATIVE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE AT LAST

When the opportunity for a new Association Chairman arose at the beginning of 2018, I jumped at the chance to be elected for this role. Part of my “manifesto” commitment to Ipswich members was to get a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in place as soon as the central party gave the green light. I pushed our central office to do this, and was delighted that once the local elections were out of the way, we commenced this journey.

The Conservative Party has prescribed candidate selection procedures which have to be followed. These take a while, but culminated in our Special Members Meeting on 27 September, which was moderated by former Suffolk Coastal Conservative Association Chairman, Graham Dines .Our 3 candidates were Alex Deane, Joel Charles and Tom Hunt.

I asked the members to make a good choice for candidate, and they certainly made an excellent decision in voting for Tom. My thanks to Joel and Alex who were also very high quality candidates, and we wish them the best of success. I am sure that they will both make excellent Parliamentary candidates and MPs elsewhere.

Tom has fantastic experience in fighting for what local people want in their communities, as a district councillor and now working for the elected mayor of Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, where they are pushing for investment in this region.  His proficiency will now be brought to Ipswich.

The current MP for Ipswich is failing to stand up for what this town needs and does little but complain about what the Conservative government and County Council are doing, and telling the electorate that he knows better than the 38,655 (or 58%)of Ipswich electors who voted for Brexit. Tom is a breath of fresh air and will work constructively with the Councils, Government and Tim Passmore.

John Howard

Ipswich Conservative Association   -Chairman

DSC00153Ipswich Conservative Association   -Chairman