The European Court of Human Rights intervened to stop the deportation flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda. The UK is a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.
We asked your views on: How should the government react to the ruling by the ECHR?
The intervention of the ECHR was based on previous Rwandan breaches of human rights. The government needs to improve the process so ‘refugees to Rwanda’ detainees are protected. Subsequently, this criticism should no longer be an obstacle to the scheme.
The UK government should take a steer from all stakeholders, especially the British people.
None of the critics of this scheme have offered suggestions for improvements or an alternative. It begs the question, how serious are they on brokering a solution to make refugee asylum applications fair for all?
I understand the principal behind ‘refugees to Rwanda’ is to put their asylum applications on an equal footing with other refugees who are applying from overseas, and even France. But the government should also be elevating the chances of overseas applicants to those of UK applicants.
I can see the current poor application process incentivises dissent with people who are already over here, having an appeal advantage which encourages people-trafficking. The fact that the lawyers grounding the flight were representing refugees already here, is a case in point.
Other nuances to the ‘refugees to Rwanda’ debate are as follows:
In my opinion, it’s good that the discussion centres around allocation of resources and logistics rather than whether or not we should offer sanctuary.
The people of the UK are in support of offering asylum to refugees.
The debate is over the process not the principal. This is because of our Judeo-Christian legacy.
The Good Samaritan put his hands into his pocket and rescued a victim of crime who was facing death. The victim happened to be a stranger from a hostile people group.
He paid for him to be looked after till he was back on his own two feet. So far as we read in the story, it is implied that the victim of crime accepted the help he was offered and was grateful that he was safe and healthy.
There’s an element of personal responsibility implied for both the Good Samaritan and the victim of crime.
In the Bible parable the initiative to help comes from the heart of the good Samaritan.
While I think it’s appropriate and right that the British people allocate resources from taxes to help refugees coming to Britain, I also think people should be left with capacity to lavish their financial resources (money or time) on the worthy causes God has put on their own hearts. Do the critics want us to pay more taxes so more money can be spent on supporting one state sanctioned worthy cause?
Whether it’s a refugee’s welcome group, Justin Welby or the Prince of Wales, that ‘someone’ in ‘someone should do something’ is you. If you really cared, you would offer of yourself. Go live in a shack and turn your capital into sponsorship, medical and legal aid to help failed asylum seekers. Don’t be like a whitewashed tomb. Practice what you preach.
In the past, my family made a personal sacrifice by offering accommodation to a refugee from Syria (via Lebanon). This dear person was not given appropriate help upon arrival to combat alcoholism (which no one appeared aware of) and sadly without this help upon arrival, their chances of successful integration in Britain were slim despite huge financial investment.
There’s so much more can be done to get the system working fairly and squarely.
From my perspective as an independent libertarian the matter of refugees and migrants is something that I’m often at odds with the mainstream about. In principle I am an advocate for free movement. I’d like the freedom and opportunity to relocate to anywhere in the world should I so wish. In principle I can hardly deny the same to others.
I’d much rather allow for more free movement hand-in-hand with eliminating expectations of being subsidised by the state – or should I say, by the taxpayer. There are many industrious and entrepreneurial migrants who would bring cultural richness and prosperity to the UK and it’s a pity if that should be curtailed by welfare state resources and other similar concerns. I’d like to see that migrants therefore have adequate medical insurance for their own needs. I’d like to see migrant sponsorship take a front seat through which those seeking residency here may be sponsored by someone who will take responsibility for their health and welfare and other needs rather than the taxpayer. Migration in this sense is a freedom of association issue more than a legal one, and in that sense ought to be none of the government’s business. The challenge comes with the practicalities, and the practicalities are made a mess of by too much state intervention and control in everyone’s lives.
Here in the UK the state insists on doing so much for us and to us. The welfare state with its benefits, state school, state housing and NHS can create just such a problem area. Where movement ought to be free, these finite services which we’re all coerced into paying for through taxation cannot be subject to infinite demand. Were NI payments actually ringfenced and treated as insurance for health treatments it would be a simpler thing to explain, but the hash various governments have made of that just adds to the mess. Migration becomes controlled to protect other things the state insists on controlling, however badly in either case.
Outlawing free movement, as with outlawing many things, simply creates a black market for less reputable people to make money from those desperate enough to attempt life threatening means to travel. It all adds up to a prime example of how so much government meddling requires even more government meddling to deal with its own consequences. Flights to Rwanda are just yet another example of the state trying to fix its own mess, making things messier by upping the stakes in a game of brinkmanship between government, black marketeers and desperate people. I think flying people to Rwanda is a terrible policy, there are better ways to deal with it, I’d rather hold people airside here, decide and then act. But I don’t think the UK is likely to improve its other policies any time soon, to mitigate the migrant effect or meddle less in our lives.
In all this I do believe each nation has the right and obligation to make its own laws regarding the entry of individuals within its borders. I’d like them to be freer as I have explained, but they are properly in the competence of each nation to decide. So, even though I think Priti Patel is an authoritarian with little regard for liberty and the correct role of government, as things stand I tend to reject the notion that the ECHR has anything to say on this.
I can remember back in the 1960s when the doom-mongers were heralding the start of another ice age! I have also lived through the panics of Aids and the Millennium Bug, both of which were supposed to ruin life as we know it but fizzled out as a major threat, so I am by nature and experience a sceptic. However, I am inclined to believe the graphs that show global temperatures have soared since 1980. Therefore, my proper answer to the question is yes, it is a threat.
1980? Hmm. The temperature rise seems to mirror the rise of industrialisation in China and India. Anyone who has travelled to these and similar countries will have witnessed the high levels of smog and pollution, far worse than we used to have in Britain when we were renowned for our ‘pea-soupers’. In short, we British are not the cause of the problem.
But should we be taking the lead in addressing it? In practical terms, it is a waste of time us ruining our economy to shave off a fraction of the 1% of carbon emissions that we generate. It is well documented that China can – and will – increase their output by this amount in a few weeks, if not days. So it is patently nuts for us to be spending billions of our taxpayers’ money on reducing our miniscule contribution to the problem.
Should we have a referendum on net zero targets?
No. That’s not how we do things in this country. Switzerland can have one as it is part of their democratic processes but there is virtually no precedent here. Referenda should be reserved for constitutional matters only. Anyway, the subject is too emotive and the general public would not be given the full range of facts to make an informed decision.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
Buy lots of sun block, nice shades and swimmies and sod the next generation…
Yes, that was a joke. That said, what we could and should do is pressure the worst polluting countries into reducing their emissions. How? Well, as a suggestion, we could put a ban (or very high tariffs) on imports from them until they address the problem. Of course, this would increase the cost of goods we buy but I suspect the total would be a mere fraction of what we are intending to spend on net zero. And it would stimulate our manufacturing base.
Finally, if we are intent on reducing our emissions, this would best be done through market forces rather than government diktats, artificial target dates and huge subsidies. Once electric cars are cheaper than petrol ones and heat pumps are cheaper than gas boilers, then we will naturally move towards lower emitting technologies.
‘I’m not going to replace the polyfoam with paper food trays until the government makes me.’ Said the chip-shop man nonchalantly. Not so long ago I got into an uncivilised wrangle over a chip tray. My teenager left the shop in horror at my indiscretion.
However unreasonable and hopeless it may seem, small changes will make a huge difference.
Is global warming a threat?
I believe global warming is a threat. However, as a Christian, my divine calling is unconditional advocacy for compassionate stewardship of the earth’s creatures and plants. Plus to foster equitable sharing of the earth’s resources.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
I think this would be a good idea as it will create awareness about the implications across the board. Open discussion and critique from a range of opposing positions will stir hearts into action. Assuming it is approved, it will strengthen the resolve and mandate of this movement. Unfortunately, there is so much ‘greenwashing’ at large, a person can be forgiven for thinking they are helping the planet by buying more plastic Petunias.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
Lifestyles: More cherished, forbearing and Godly. Less materialism, disposable and excess.
Plastic packaging: ‘I was shocked, when I came to the UK, there’s plastic wrappers on everything in the supermarket.’ (Confessions of my Kenyan friend in London).
We don’t need plastic packaging. We have paper, cardboard, tin, glass, compostable and natural fibres that are part of circular economies. Supermarkets are selling more and more items in plastic packaging. This is not acceptable. We can solve the plastic packaging problem simply by not producing it in the first place.
Moreover, we should be extending this to manufacturing by promoting ‘Cradle to Cradle’ type standards: healthy, socially just and authentically sustainable. Producing no waste and using natural energy flows that do not pollute.
Energy: We have been building wind turbines and paying for them to be switched off. There must be a better way to manage our sustainable energy assets so we can phase out fossil fuels.
Humans are exceptional. 200 years ago Global life expectancy was under 30, today life expectancy in the poorest counties is over 50, the global average is over 70. When I was at school people starved in many countries, today hunger has almost disappeared except where war or governments stop food supplies. Since the turn of the century the expanding economies of China and India mean China has a middle class the size of the population of Europe, with India only a few years behind.
Despite expanding populations and doomsday predictions the number of people dying from extreme weather events continues to collapse. Climate has changed for millennia before mankind, during our existence and will for many more to come without our interference. For over 30 years ‘experts’ on hefty grants have told us of impending doom from global warming, rising seas levels, agricultural failures, and a scorched planet. None of this has happened, and the planet is greening every year.
Is global warming a threat? Maybe, but human ingenuity will not just rise to any challenge, we will excel and overcome it.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
All of the major parties are in lockstep on Net Zero. For all of the challenges of a referendum, we have a situation where the political/media classes all agree they need to lower our standard of living, which I firmly believe people don’t want (note they don’t seem to want to lower theirs). Unless or until a party currently outside parliament makes a breakthrough, the people have no real choice. For all of the challenges off a Referendum on Net Zero, today we have the people pitted against parliament, and like Brexit, I can only see that a referendum will allow us to set parliament back on a path of striving to improve rather than diminish our lives.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
We should protect the environment we live in. In our borough, every small patch of land is being built on. New blocks of flats out of character of the area they are built in keep popping up. Council and government policies have made where we live a less pleasant environment, we need to change this.
Globally we should protect at risk species of animal and plant. I believe this is best achieved by balancing the environment concerns and economic concerns of the local populations. Chickens are not at risk of extinction because they are good source of food and economically useful. Horses are often well looked after because they work and are raced, so are economically useful. Dogs are not at risk of extinction because they work and provide companionship. There is no threat of extinction of lawn grass or corn. Whether through tourism, food, work or altruism, animals and plants that are economically viable thrive.
We can best protect the environment by making bio diversity an economic benefit. To achieve this we should focus on raising the standard of living of the poorest across the globe to the point that they have the capacity to choose to invest in, and protect their local environments.
This is the forth set of your responses, further responses can be found from Part 1 and in Part 5.
For those who might not know the CPA can you tell us a little about the party and your main policies?
The Christian Peoples Alliance seeks to bring integrity, truth and love to the governmental arena. We seek to demonstrate how God does politics! Our core values are promoting traditional marriage and family stability, upholding the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, caring for the poor and needy, fighting crime and supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.
At a London level what would the CPA like to see change?
The London Assembly holds the Mayor accountable for his decisions in areas such as London transport, police and fire services, building affordable homes, protecting the environment and promoting London’s economy.
The Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) has manifesto policies which detail improvements for each area of Mayoral responsibility. This election, we would like to highlight tackling knife crime which shatters families and ruins lives. A number of city charities are already doing great work in tackling knife crime and we would enhance their reach with grants. We advocate for kinship mentors, supervised youth centres and mounted police presence. Kinship mentors because knife crime gangs often engender family-like loyalties; supervised youth centres because young men need properly supervised, safe spaces outside home to spend time with peers; mounted police presence as it’s believed that mounted police (compared with foot police) are more community friendly but deter crime.
Knife crime affects young people from broken homes disproportionately. In the long term, we need to reduce these inequalities by supporting marriages and creating stable homes so that all children can have the benefit of growing up with their mum and dad.
This brings me to our second key London wide policy. All women (and girls) deserve to be cherished for life by their peer group, siblings and partners. Sadly not all are. This year we have seen increases in domestic violence, abortion coercion, sexual harassment, rape culture in schools, objectification and human trafficking. The police emphasise consent in their training videos, but this is not enough. It gives the message that it’s ok to have sex with a female, just so long as she is 16+ and says yes.
CPA believes women and girls should be cherished for life not just objects of convenience. We believe men can be helped with self-control of libido. In addition, we will review agencies funded by the Mayor to ensure they do not promote pornography, violence or undermine the family. We need more women’s crisis centres and education that inspires boys to be faithful husbands and fathers that cherish their families
We will protect freedom of speech and stop the police investigating non-criminal ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate incidents’, so they can concentrate on real crime not thought crime. Plus no mandatory or coerced vaccination, including ‘covid passports’.
I would also like to mention our care for the poor policy. We will work in partnership with the city churches/charities to support foodbanks and address food insecurity.
We will guarantee night shelters for anyone not on drink or drugs, with a meal free of charge paid for by the Mayor of London. We don’t want anyone sleeping rough. Those with alcohol and drug problems will be given specialist help.
In terms of transport, we would make Transport for London more accountable to passengers for its spending. Fares have been going up year-on-year for decades despite TfL’s huge revenues from fares, advertising, tourism and property.
In terms of the environment, we believe the current incineration of non-mechanically-recyclable plastic is not environmentally friendly enough. We believe the Mayor should be investing in methods which make plastic recycling circular.
My current role as housing manager in London gives me first hand, daily experiences of the housing issues facing Londoners and how we can improve our systems to make things fairer and better for all.
The party isn’t running a mayoral candidate, are you recommending anyone to vote for, and if not how will you pick who to vote for?
We have been mayoral candidate watching and are on the lookout for a candidate that is able to uphold our values. Unashamedly pro family, pro-marriage and pro- life. We have been quite upfront with anyone with we have met with that they are clear about our core values in their role as Mayor for instance welcoming the annual March for Life. We are aware however that the reality is that the race will be between Shaun Bailey and Sidiq Khan. We have recommended that our members and supporters vote for Shaun Bailey as second choice.
In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council. What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?
Detailed above are our policies on tackling knife crime. This is our no. 1 concern this election. In terms of reinvigorating town centres and supporting local businesses, we would use the proceeds from our *Turnover Tax to immediately half business rates with a view to phasing them out completely over time, in order to create a level playing field between online and shop retail.
*Our national manifesto policy: The CPA will introduce a Turnover Tax at a rate of 5% of company turnover, payable quarterly in arrears along with VAT. The threshold will be the same as the VAT threshold, currently £85,000. This is intended to ensure that appropriate tax is collected from those multi-national companies who make their money by selling in the UK but transfer their profits overseas by way of ‘licence’ and other ‘costs’ or ‘invoice’ addresses. This will be a fairer company tax system across the board and eventually make buying online taxed at the same level as buying in shops.
How much will this raise?
The total turnover of the UK economy in 2017 was £2.62 trillion 5 — 5% of which gives £106.5bn. The Turnover Tax would be offset against Corporation tax which raised £56.1bn in 2017/18 despite the rate being cut. Small companies would be exempt and we would look to introduce other fair exemptions which would take away about £20bn. Some Corporation Tax would be more than the Turnover Tax but we estimate that would generate at least £32bn which would be spent funding the following key manifesto pledges:
• £15bn on reducing Commercial Rates to help our city centres
• £12bn on restoring the Government benefit cuts, so we can make Universal Credit work
• £3bn on supporting marriage and the family through our grant system
If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority and what would you like to achieve?
As a female, black Londoner, born and bred, I would like to offer a pro-family, pro-marriage and pro-life voice. I would raise the profile of the issues surrounding women’s inequalities and the vital importance of a biblical worldview being applied in a very practical real way to everyday life in the governmental political arena. In this cancel culture I will be championing free speech, particularly allowing our police force to police real crime and not tweets! I am not really about using my ethnicity to get votes what is more important to me is to represent all Londoners to create a city that is prosperous, and safe. Holding the mayor to account on the London Assembly would afford the CPA a wonderful opportunity to ensure that Christians are represented in GLA and have a voice where it matters!
How do people find out more and get in contact or involved?
Helen Spiby-Vann has stood 3 times (2015, 2017 and 2019 General Elections) for the Christian Peoples Alliance party in the North London constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green. Vice President of the Party, in 2019 she doubled her votes from the previous election, had a great election video and good write up in the local press. We spoke with Helen about the constituency, London politics, her experiences as a candidate, and her challenges with the state school system.
Helen thank-you for your time.
You have stood 3 times in Hornsey and Wood Green. Can you tell us a bit about the constituency, what makes it special and why you want to represent the area?
Hornsey and Wood Green constituency is buzzing with different types of families from different backgrounds. Where else can you meet people from diverse cultures, age groups and attitudes whilst queueing for a mezze grill? Haringey is the hospitality borough of London.
Another great institution is Pray Haringey. Hearing from community leaders and praying for Haringey. I love the various facets of the local faith communities and I have a tangible affinity with them all. We love family, kids, mums & dads, siblings and grandparents. We empower young people and care for the elderly, infirm and dispossessed. We make sure we teach our children to respect others who are different from ourselves.
A stranger’s perspective can sometimes seem strange so it’s important to carry their burdens, to see through their eyes. In my capacity as a human being, I’ve been a carer, advocated for the elderly, I’ve partnered with Homes for Haringey and hosted a Syrian refugee. I’ve co-founded a food project, done pro-life pavement counselling and worked with children. I’m convinced that religious ethics can inform the common good and enable equality, justice and prosperity for all. When we apply Godly principles we see lives changed for the better.
Since becoming a regular candidate what’s surprised you most about getting involved in politics?
A couple of surprises. Firstly, I’m surprised at how emotionally driven voting has become. Voters are disillusioned by intellectual rationale and persuaded by emotional discernment. In other words, when the experts disagree, we lean on our feelings. People of faith seek God’s guidance.
Secondly, I’m always surprised by the depth of sincerity of candidates and their supporters. It’s inspiring to see how deeply people care about making the world a better place and fighting injustice. We all have this much in common – even if we disagree about how best to do it. In the words of Samwise Gamgee “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Do you have any fun or interesting stories from the campaign trail?
One of my first ever hustings turned out to be an epic event of Biblical magnitude. After having been declined a place on the panel, I was summoned from the back to sit on the top table after an unlikely episode which you couldn’t make up if you tried.
This turn of events happened when a burly Hoi Polloi1 with a battery pack, speaker and megaphone crashed his way to the front and demanded a place on the top table. The community were up in arms, some for and others against. The padre moderator swiftly called for the church steward to escort the strapping figure out. Then a diminutive lady appeared and it was clear that she was no match. This exacerbated the tension. Chaos, ensued, shouting, mobbing and whistle blowing.
In a stroke of divine intervention, the padre was able to take back control when another man loudly chastised the mob affirming rights of candidates to give representation. It all settled down and the Christian and the Hoi Polloi were accredited as official panelists.
One blogger who happened to be there wrote about my closing statement: ‘Spiby-Vann’s closing statement discussed the need for a “new moral vision” and to “promote godliness.” She said “marriage is the safest setting for sexual intercourse” and that “marriage demonstrates a man loves a woman – he pledges to remain faithful and she pledges to take care of him.” She then described how marriage protects women. I think this level of Christian fundamentalism managed to shock the relatively godless and liberal residents of Crouch End.’ Amen.
We have the London Mayoral elections coming up in May 2021. What are your thoughts on Mayor Khan and London’s politics more generally?
On a positive note, Mayor Khan is supportive of protecting the environment. However, this protection from pollution doesn’t stretch to in utero. I was disappointed that Mayor Khan didn’t attend the March for Life 2019. Accepted, for many, this would be the principled choice.
I love engaging with the various political perspectives in London. Respect is key and free speech is precious. By understanding other people’s viewpoints we may discover a dearly longed for solution. Sadly Janet Daby recently resigned as Labour’s shadow faith minister over comments she had made in support of freedom of conscience. It seems like an oxymoron that a shadow minister of faith would be fired for advocating for people of faith. It supports the rumour that Labour exploit the faithful, treating them as religious tokens.
Also close to my heart are women’s rights. My message to women and girls – our value comes from God not from our physical appearance – we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Negative thoughts tell us our identity is intertwined with what we do and who we look like. Comparing ourselves with others is a habit hard to ax.
Life is not straight forward. I know a lady who woke up one frozen December morning at the crack of dawn to take her dog for a walk. As she walked down the lane she saw a person lying lifeless at the side of the road in the snow. A thought passed through her pained mind – could this be the victim of a hit and run joy rider. Sadly she was right. A transient moment of irresponsible pleasure for one, turned into a tragedy for another. So it is with exploitation of women and girls and abortion.
There’s a reason why we have driving licenses, there’s a reason why we have marriage licenses. It’s to protect human rights, especially for the most vulnerable. There’s only one way into this world and for humans travelling on that path, their mother is dearly beloved. It’s an indictment on our society that mothers are encouraged to look upon the new person arriving with such contempt and lured into putting them down (mifepristone works by starving baby of nutrients and oxygen, misoprostol aborts the corpse).
For those who are still reading even though you disagree or find my opinion conceptually incomprehensible, thank you for persevering. You are great. It is concerning that people with very different views never get to meet their opposites. We only get exposed to one view and think the other is offensive, hateful, bigoted, right wing, Marxist, extremist or ridiculous. When I find myself saying ‘I just can’t understand why they think that’, it’s time to meet people who can help me understand. We may still disagree, but we find respect and dignity when we try to understand each other.
You have had some challenges as a parent with the teaching of Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) at your son’s school. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes it’s true – over the past decades of parenting, I have never been consulted properly regarding Relationship & Sex Education (RSE). And even now, when it’s mandatory, parents’ views are still being sidelined. Back in 2015 when my youngest was in year 5, I couldn’t make the once-per-year RSE content preview. Despite my requests, no other time or access was permitted.
In 2016 when my youngest was in year 6 parents were once again invited to the once-per-year RSE content preview. The (usually accommodating) headteacher explained she would only be showing samples as time permitted and would be able to show the materials in full, on request (despite requests, this never happened). Ahead of her presentation, she asked if there were any questions. I looked round at the 2 other mums and one dad in attendance and asked ‘Do you cover the importance of marriage and adult sexual relationships and if not, do you cover sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)?’
At this point the one dad walked out and the headteacher explained ‘We don’t stress marriage because our children come from many different families. But they do learn about sexual relationships but not about STI’s till much later.’ As if this rationale (on down-playing marriage) wasn’t spurious enough, the materials presented healthy sex as being a response to chemical sensations with no reference to commitment, risks, rights or responsibilities. In other words, schools have been acquiescing to fabricated ideas and ideology rather than following guidance, facts and best practice.
Autumn 2016, my son started secondary school. For the past 18 months, I have been submitting my parental feedback with respect to RSE from the protected characteristic of religious backgrounds. Under the new Regulations schools are required to consult with parents in planning the curriculum. This requirement is spotlighted in the Guidance issued 24th September 2020: ‘You must engage parents and carers about your relationships and sex education curriculum. It is important that you set out your approach to the subjects fully and clearly2.’
However, so far as I understand, none of my suggestions have been taken on board. I have removed my son from these classes until the school is able to make it inclusive for religious backgrounds and we are working together to resolve these issues.
More widely what are your thoughts on state education?
The most popular and successful state schools tend to have a few things in common: My no. 1 is encouraging parental involvement in the child’s education (parents checking homework timetables and being interested in weekly tests). And for parental involvement to be viable, we must support mum and dad and strengthen marriages. Children benefit from the joint resources, finances and shared experiences of married parents. This joint capacity enables parents to be involved in their child’s schooling.
When I was a single working mother, parental involvement in my child’s schooling was much harder. Too often children of single parent families get the short straw when it comes to educational outcomes3. Breakfast clubs offering healthy meals like porridge oats, Weetabix and fruit (rather than Rice Krispies or Cornflakes) and afterschool clubs with homework supervision or individual tuition, can bridge that gap.
One thing all pupils agree on is that disruptive classmates handicap their education. One radical panacea is to invite parents of distracting pupils to sit in one of their child’s classes and repeat the prescription when necessary.
Good classroom discipline is key. It improves student (and teacher) satisfaction, wellbeing and enables better academic, extra curricular and pastoral results.
Other methods which contribute to equality of educational outcomes include:
Streaming (with smaller class sizes at the lower end – and therefore more attention for struggling pupils)
STEM subjects taught in single sex classes
Speciality places offered for talent. This method works well because it attracts an array of pupils who raise aspirations across the school community.
Do you have any advice for anyone who has concerns about their children’s education?
For parents who are concerned about their child’s education, you are in good company. It’s important to be concerned. But what can we do with our concerns to generate positive change?
Firstly, keeping in touch with teachers is important (don’t wait till parents’ evening). Schools have homework diaries with space for parents to fill in. Your child may not thank you for it at the time but teachers will. It’s really important to be involved.
Choosing a school can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Everyone wants a good, safe and aspirational school for their children. Every child is different, whether they would benefit from cosy, big, academic, faith or disciplined, there’s lots of different types of schools and often they cater for different needs and talents. Visit as many as you can and throw the net wide. Private schools offer lots of scholarships and bursaries. They have a reputation for converting 6’ & 7’s into 9’s.
In addition, it’s important for children to be part of an activity based community outside the school (eg: sports, arts, technical, music or scouts). A serious friendship based hobby gives them confidence and stamina to embrace daily challenges at school.
Don’t be put off considering different schools, even if a child just wants to go to the same school as their friends. Trust your parental instinct. In year 5, children don’t want to leave their primary. But by Christmas in year 7, many can’t imagine going back.
We have had a second lockdown and gone into a Tier System. What are your thoughts on the government’s handling of Covid?
I believe the government has overstretched it’s reach. This is particularly apparent with churches. Early in April lockdown, it was considered safer to go to Poundshop than to church. By September, churches were open having invested greatly in risk assessments and adaptations. While Tier 2 was in place, they were still open but then downgraded with Tier 3. This was very unreasonable as churches had invested in the safety measures to prevent the spread.
State school children were short changed during school lockdown. While private schools worked hard to usher in remote classes on Teams and kept tabs on attendance, making sure IT was available for those without. State schools took the view that if one child doesn’t have IT, then the rest can’t use it (this is a common theme in state education). It would have been easier to source IT for those without than to deprive them all. State schools were thus handicapped4. Parents were juggling home schooling and home working. Teachers tried to keep connected with their increasingly remote pupils by uploading, downloading and emailing. Doing their best to help with academic as well as pastoral issues that arose because the kids were off school with no structure and no motivation.
It’s not accidental that kids are more motivated when they see other kids doing it. During school lockdown, digital classrooms enabled kids to hear and see other kids (or at least their avatars) and none could say ‘It’s not fair, I’m the only one doing this school work. Why should I?’
Exam classes could have continued in schools with social distancing, masks and santiser. Exams by nature are socially distanced and should have continued. This would have prevented the results injustices and uni places fiasco.
However, sometimes less government intervention is better. In April 2020, It was inspiring to see philanthropy thriving, nationwide encouragement of NHS and keyworkers, free public transport and handouts for food banks.
Other lessons in hindsight:
Covid testing with results ready in half an hour at airports, weddings, funerals, care homes and hospices. No-one should be prohibited from seeing their loved ones who are terminally ill.
Risk to different demographics issued in a form that the ordinary person can grasp: ‘1 in 30 people of this age group who contracts the virus, dies from it.’
On marriages: limiting attendance and social distancing is one thing, but banning marriages outright is a breach of human rights.
Earlier use of face masks, thermometers, testing, sanitizer rather than lockdowns.
More transparency about the demographic that’s allegedly spreading Covid-19. Focus on supporting this group rather than sweeping restrictions.
Pills-by-post home abortions: The government was misled by abortion providers regarding the significance of an in-person assessment to ascertain fetal age5. And
babies who were old enough to survive independently (and feel pain6), have been illegally killed7 by starvation.
Should you be returned at the next election to represent the good people of Hornsey and Wood Green, what’s one law you would like to benefit the nation, and something you would like to do to benefit your constituents?
This is a great question – my suggestion would benefit the UK both on a national level and a local level. If I was to say this policy would:
Save the nation £51Bn (for comparison we spent £87Bn on education and £37Bn on defence in 2017)8
Significantly reduce the number of people in trouble with police or in prison9
Improve the nation’s wellbeing and health10
Reduce (or eradicate) STIs which have been on the increase for decades11
Cut rates of exploitation of women and girls, prostitution and pornography
Improve children and young people’s mental health15
I could go on… The panacea for all these social woes can be summed up in 4 words ‘marriage as God intended’. Or as I like to call it, ‘the doting husband covenant’: to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part. And not forgetting men’s core need, marriage is the only relationship that recognises sex as central to the covenant (for cohabitees and civil partnerships it’s an added extra). How do we persuade the people of the UK to once again take advantage of this ancient covenant and unlock the full package of societal benefits?
I recommend the introduction of grants of £12,000 for first-time marriages on the condition couples attend marriage training (including conflict resolution and building resilient relationships). Faith communities have been taking Biblical marriage seriously for years and we see the majority of married couples staying together16.
Let’s hope that the new-found sobriety for family life, meaningful relationships, health and nature, can usher in a new era where marriage as God intended, is once again the rock upon which our nation is built.