Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Encouraging School Sports

The Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, has announced more detail on the Coalition Government's new approach on school sports that will embed competitive sport in schools across the country and increase participation.
The Secretary of State said: "I want competitive sport to be at the centre of a truly rounded education that all schools offer but this must be led by schools and parents, not by top-down policies from Whitehall. It's time to ensure what was best in School Sport Partnerships around the country is fully embedded and move forward to a system where schools and partnerships are delivering on sports with competition at the heart."
The Coalition Government has confirmed that School Sports Partnerships will be paid for the full school year to the end of the summer term 2011, at a cost of £47 million. In addition, a further £65 million will be paid to enable every secondary school to release one PE teacher for a day a week in the school year 2011/12 and 2012/13 to work out of the classroom, encouraging greater take-up of sport and securing a fixture network for schools to increase the amount of intra- and inter-school competition.
Lottery funding will also be deployed to build a framework of competitions as part of the new School Games. All schools will be invited to compete against one another in district competitions, leading to county festivals and even the chance to appear in the first national finals in Spring 2012, with events at the Olympic Stadium.
I met recently with Alan Watkinson and Helen Ives, Partnership Development Managers from each of the two School Sports Partnerships in the Hounslow Borough, together with Rory Mawn, School Sport Coordinator and several of the pupils who are Young Ambassadors for sport across the Borough. Alan explained that the Hounslow Schoool Sports Partnerships rank in the top 10 in partnerships nationwide, both in terms of the number of hours of physical activity being undertaken and for quality of the leadership and volunteering skills for the Young Ambassadors.
I was very impressed with their enthusiasm for the programme. It's great to see the commitment of the Young Ambassadors involved in this programme. I am a strong believer in the value of all kinds of sport and the benefits it can bring not only to general health and wellbeing but also to academic achievement and teamworking skills.
I hope that the recent announcement by the Secretary of State for Education will ensure the continuation of the good work being undertaken in Hounslow to involve young people in sport. I look forward to hearing more about how our schools will get involved in the upcoming Schools Event to ensure a lasting sporting legacy from the Olympics in 2012.

The Big Tree Plant Campaign

Recently I raised a question in the House of Commons to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to emphasise how important our parks and green spaces are to our city life in London.
I asked the Secretary of State: "Green spaces and trees are vital in our cities, and I am fortunate that my constituency has many beautiful parks, including Dukes Meadows, Gunnersbury Park, Osterley Park, Boston Manor Park, Syon Park and Hounslow Heath. Can my Right Honourable Friend tell me what plans the Department has to plant many more trees across the city of London?"
The Secretary of State responded by encouraging the constituents of Brentford and Isleworth to participate in the Big Tree Plant Campaign, that was launched across the country at the beginning of December. The main aim is to encourage and support community groups to plant trees in neighbourhoods where people live and work. The hope is that at least one million trees can be planted in a mixture of strees, small groups of trees in green spaces and in other neighbourhood tree planting. The campaign will run over four years, 2011 - 2015, and will give £4 million in grants.
Not-for-profit groups or organisations in England, such as charity and voluntary groups that represent the interests of the local community, are eligible to apply. Although local authorities cannot apply directly, projects that are in partnership with local authorities are welcome to apply.
I would encourage everyone to get involved in the campaign, so that we can help maintain our idyllic corner of West London.
Further information is available on the website http://thebigtreeplant.direct.gov.uk/index.html and the initial deadline for submissions is 15 March 2011.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Hammersmith Cinema

Like a lot of residents in Chiswick, I enjoy visiting the cinema on King Street, Hammersmith.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council are considering plans by developers to demolish the 1930s Art-Deco landmark, together with other neighbouring buildings, to make way for a new housing complex and supermarket
Some residents have mentioned to me that they would be sorry to see the cinema go. If you are concerned or have questions about the new development please get in touch with Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Speaking Out in Hounslow

I recently visited Hounslow Manor School to judge a public speaking competition for local schools. "Jack Petchey's 'Speak Out' Challenge!" run by SpeakersBank, part of the Speakers Trust charity, is the biggest public speaking event of its kind in the world. Initial rounds are taking place in over 550 schools across London and Essex.
Twelve secondary schools in Hounslow took part in this year's challenge, which involved 500 year 10 students, who all received a full day of training in public speaking and effective communication. The strongest pupil from each school was selected to go forward to a regional final of sixteen students speaking out passionately about issues important to them. Topics included Buses, Facebook, Beauty, Chocolate and the BNP.
Fifteen-year-old Fatima Mahmood from Cranford Community College won the top prize in the Hounslow final. Fatima's speech on her chosen subject, "Stereotyping Teenagers," won her an iPod Touch and a chance to go through to the grand final of the Speak Out Challenge in July 2011. The speech was described by SpeakersBank as "challenging and dramatic," calling on adults to put aside their prejudice and talk to teenagers to discover they are "humans with souls and feelings." I presented Fatima with her iPod and a trophy.
Second place was Leah Black from Hounslow Manor School, speaking on Parenting, and in third place was Ella Whidett from St Mark's Catholic School, who spoke on Prejudice.
It was a fantastic evening. The students were inspiring and so talented - a credit to themselves and their schools.
This initiative teaches young people the vital life skills of confidence in speaking in public and effective communication. This is crucial for so many situations later in life, from job interviews to every day in the working environment. Thanks to the "Speak Out Challenge" for giving students the opportunity to participate.
Sponsored by the Jack Petchey Foundation, and now in its fifth year, up to 20,000 young people are expected to compete for over £25,000 worth of prizes in this year's Grand Final of Jack Petchey's "Speak Out" Challenge.