Letters - December 23, 2014

Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital
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National Health Service

Great experience

The NHS always seems to be getting bad publicity and our local hospital certainly gets its fair,or unfair, share of that publicity.

I feel it important that I share my good experience of the treatment I received recently both at Fleetwood Dock Street Centre, Blackpool Victoria Hospital accident and emergency and over my two days in ward five.

The treatment and care in all three of these departments was of the very highest standard and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff involved for there care and attention which, in my opinion, was without doubt over and above the call of duty.

County Coun 
Jim Lawrenson

via email

Education approach

Give us a challenge

Education in large areas of the North has been underperforming for years, generations even, and successive governments have done little to get the worst performing areas to catch up.

There have been great strides in education provision, but with every school, every authority improving at the same rate with the same one-size-fits-all approach, we’ll be left at the bottom for forever.

We’ll always be at the foot of every league table, which will inevitably lead to low investment, low employment and high crime – it invariably does.

What is most frustrating is that the government knows exactly how to improve the situation because it’s already done it, a decade ago, in London.

The London Challenge transformed education and continues to brighten the life chances of the capital’s children.

“Judged by relative performance in examinations and in Ofsted inspections, London schools now outperform schools in the rest of England and achieve the highest proportion of students obtaining five good GCSEs, the highest percentage of schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, and the highest GCSE attainment for pupils from poorer backgrounds.

The superior performance of London schools is apparent using both government-imposed key indicators and other metrics that are less susceptible to ‘gaming’ by schools.

Ofsted considers that the quality of both teaching and leadership in London schools is substantially above the level found in England as a whole.

London is the top- performing region in England using other measurements, such as the percentage of students leaving school and remaining in further or higher education.

The pattern of improvement has been particularly marked in inner London, which is impressive, as it has a higher level of deprivation than outer London.” (from http://cdn.cfbt.com/~/media/cfbtcorporate/files/research/2014/r-london-schools-2014.pdf p8)

I’m left wondering when it’s our turn.

London Challenge covered a large geography with diverse populations, different challenges and a large number of education Local Authorities – and we face the same challenge today.

Individually, like Barnet or Croydon, we are not going to be noticed; but like London when taken as a whole, if we group together we can ask for and get more.

A Northern Challenge, with funding, investment and expertise similar to London Challenge, would truly change our schools, our communities and our kids’ life chances.

I have written to MPs and local government Children’s Services leads covering Barnsley, Blackpool, Bradford, Derbyshire, Doncaster, East Riding, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Oldham, St Helens, Stockton-on-Tees and Tameside to ask how we get a fair deal for our kids and how we get a Northern Challenge.

I don’t believe this is a partisan issue, and I don’t believe they think our kids are worth more than London’s – but I do think we’re getting a raw deal and the only way to truly improve education in our 12 areas is to join together and say that we need the support of the national government so our kids have the same chances as those elsewhere.

How could we, as a single group, ask that we are given the investment and support needed to make a truly remarkable difference to education?

How could the newspapers, as voices of the local people, support a call for real change?

John Atkinson

via email

Hedge trimming

No good for birds

Yet again, I am sitting in a public place (Marsh Mill, Thornton) gazing at over-vigorous pruning of shrubs and hedges.

Where berries and hips were available to birds at a time of great need, there is nothing but bare stumps.

Vital shelter and nest sites - lost. All councils, businesses, farms and many private houses are guilty of this.

Of course, some pruning and trimming must take place.

But why destroy habitat?

A Wilkinson

Sunningdale Dr