For many children and young people the start of the new school term means a big change in their lives, such as moving from primary to secondary school. This transition can often be a stressful time for children, even when they feel well prepared by their primary school and well supported at home.
Some children are carrying an extra burden, which can affect their school life, their friendships and their ability to reach their potential. These children are young carers, whose daily routine means juggling schoolwork with essential care for a family member at home. This can be a cause of great worry to a child.
In Stockport we have very good services for young carers, through the valuable work of Signpost Young Carers. Signpost works alongside primary and secondary schools, providing a package of support which enables these children to take part in school activities and have the same opportunities as their classmates. Indeed, Signpost support means that they are able to get a break from their caring responsibilities and enjoy their childhood.
Although many of our schools are great at identifying and supporting young carers, and indeed several schools have achieved the national Young Carers in Schools Award – not all schools are on board in Stockport. Across the region services are patchy.
I would like to see more schools looking out for young carers and encouraging them to be proud of themselves. I recently wrote to the Children’s Minister about how the Department for Education or Ofsted could help. I then held a meeting with Ofsted and the Signpost team, to see whether schools are being asked about their provision for young carers when they are inspected. The role of Ofsted is to see how well children are benefitting from their education, looking at how they are progressing and fulfilling their potential.
The Children’s Minister says that Ofsted inspectors pay particular attention to the outcomes of a number of groups, including young carers. However, Ofsted told me that young carers “as a group” were not listed in the handbook used by inspectors. This is rather puzzling, and I am hoping for more clarification at a meeting with the Minister this month. Ofsted is reviewing its whole inspection framework, and I believe this is a good opportunity to make sure young carers are not left out.
Ann Coffey MP recently visited WFEL, a Defence Engineering that specialises in building portable military bridges.
Ann had the opportunity to meet with WFEL’s new Managing Director, Ian Anderton, who updated her on the latest developments, including the company’s current order book, and future plans.
During a tour of the defence manufacturing facilities, Ms Coffey was introduced to some of WFEL’s workforce involved in the manufacture of both the Dry Support Bridge and the Medium Girder Bridge. A large number of WFEL’s manufacturing staff are very long-standing employees, with key engineering skills, many having served their Apprenticeships with the company.
Ann Coffey said “It’s always a pleasure to visit WFEL, one of the major employers in Stockport and a company with such a rich and unique manufacturing heritage. I have been encouraged to hear about the company’s further progress and the contribution it is making to the local economy, with a number of recent export orders to military organisations in countries such as Australia and the U.S.A.”
Ian Anderton added, “It has been a pleasure to meet Ann and to welcome her again to WFEL. Today has been a good opportunity to showcase the recent investments in our latest manufacturing technologies and demonstrate some of the technology transfers we have recently undertaken. WFEL continues to be a high profile employer in the Stockport area and our staff are proud of their contribution to the Defence industry worldwide.”
MP helps restore France’s highest honour to family of WW2 veteran
Stockport MP Ann Coffey has successfully intervened with the Ministry of Defence to restore the Legion D’Honneur, France’s highest award, to the Scott family from Heaton Mersey.
Mr Francis Scott was awarded the Legion D’Honneur for his service in the Royal Navy clearing mines in World War II during the lead up to D-Day. This was vital work preparing for the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944, which was the start of the campaign to liberate Europe.
Although the French authorities despatched Mr Scott’s medal to him in May 2017, he sadly passed away at the age of 92 before receiving his award. As the medal did not turn up, his sons, Alan and Steven Scott, approached Ann as their MP to see if she could help them find out what had happened.
Ann Coffey made enquiries with Earl Howe, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, who in turn raised it with the French Embassy. After establishing that the original medal had been lost in the post, the French authorities took the unusual decision to reissue the award, which has now been received by Alan and Steven Scott.
Ann Coffey met with Steven and Alan Scott to see the Legion D’Honneur and pay her grateful tribute to their father’s wartime contribution to our Armed Forces.
Ann Coffey said:
“The Legion D’Honneur is France’s highest honour, which cannot be awarded posthumously. It was the Scott family’s only chance to have their father’s service recognised in this way, and so I am very grateful for the assistance given by the MoD and the French authorities in recognising that the medal had been lost and agreeing to reissue it to the family. ”
PHOTOS: Ann Coffey with (l to r) Alan and Steven Scott, holding Francis Scott’s award of the Legion D’Honneur