Nadhim Zahawi, the Children and Families Minister, has said that the Government intends to increase the number of children in care who have the opportunity to study at independent schools. The move is planned in an attempt to improve the opportunities of some of the most disadvantaged students.
Zahawi said in a statement:
“Every child, whatever their background, should have access to an education that helps them to fulfil their potential. We know that all too often children who have experienced trauma in their life can fall behind in education, through no fault of their own.
While standards in state schools continue to rise, I want independent schools and Directors of Children’s Services to play a greater role in helping raise outcomes for these vulnerable children. A number around the country are already making fantastic offers to children in care, but I want more to come forward and councils to take up the opportunities. I am clear that this cannot be put off any longer, and I will accept no less.
This is now about providing resources to councils to identify and place children where it is right for them. Together, we can and must increase access, improve opportunities and foster aspirations and belief in what looked after children can achieve.”
Lord Mendelsohn has been asked to stand down from his front bench position as Labour’s spokesman on business and international trade in the House of Lords. He was sacked after attending the Presidents Club event earlier in the week, a male-only event which involved inappropriate behaviour to the female staff.
A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said:
“Jeremy Corbyn has this evening asked Lord Mendelsohn to step back from the front bench as he attended the Presidents Club dinner, and he has agreed to do so. Lord Mendelsohn has previously made clear that he attended part of the dinner as president of a charity that received support from the event and he had no knowledge of an after-party. Lord Mendelsohn did not witness any of the appalling incidents described in reports and has unreservedly condemned such behaviour”.
There is now pressure on Nadhim Zadhawi, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, to resign from his post. Although the Prime Minister hasn’t taken disciplinary action him, she did criticise the event. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said:
“I understand that Nadhim Zahawi left early from that particular event. But when I read the report of that event that took place, frankly, I was appalled. I thought that sort of approach to women, that objectification of women was something that we were leaving behind”.
Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, said:
“If it transpires that the minister did not report his concerns and that he was there on previous occasions it is absolutely surely obvious that he needs to resign – our women are too important, our young girls are too important to get this kind of message from our leaders and to think that it’s acceptable”.
Chi Onwurah, the Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, has been criticised for her reaction to Prince Philip’s withdrawal from public life. Onwurah, the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, wrote on Twitter: