Cllr Jack Hopkins is the Leader of Lambeth Council and a councillor in Oval ward.
It has been an uncertain time for all of us, not least our young people in Lambeth who would have otherwise been spending the last few months preparing for their final A-level exams. As students collect their results today, I want to echo this message from Cllr Nanda Manley-Browne and applaud every single student in Lambeth receiving their results today, who have all been incredibly dedicated and hardworking during a time of unprecedented upheaval to their studies.
Whilst many students will be celebrating their results today, there will also be students who have been let down by this Tory government and their failure to produce a workable solution to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on education. As raised by Cllr Ed Davie in a letter to the Education Secretary in May, by choosing to base results on predicted grades, the government automatically put some students at a disadvantage. Various studies have shown that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students are often given unfairly low estimated grades, compared to their white peers. This happened in Scotland earlier this month, and now it’s happened here in England too – the government have yet again failed our young people. We will continue to work to work with our schools to reopen in September to ensure that this failure by the Tories doesn’t can’t repeat itself and that we achieve greater equity in our education system.
On a national level, Lambeth Labour has been campaigning for an overhaul of the curriculum, led by Helen Hayes and her work with The Runnymede Trust. Locally, our Education and Schools Champion, Cllr Nanda Manley Browne is leading our work supporting the work of The Black Curriculum and The Runnymede Trust to empower and inspire more youth engagement regarding diversifying the curriculum, and helping students to develop and enhance their skill-sets – because every young person in our borough should have the opportunity to reach their potential.
This is not the first time the government have failed young people in Lambeth during this crisis. We have been working with our Lambeth Schools Partnership on our Raising the Game initiative as part of a wider strategy to tackle structural inequality in schools, but the government are putting up barriers to education before people have even got to school by scrapping the U18 bus pass. This crisis has showed time and time again that the Tories are unfit to govern. From the delay in introducing a lockdown in the first place, to ineffectual and insufficient PPE for key workers, to the confusion and doublespeak around lockdown guidance and the easing of restrictions – the management of the national response has been littered with incompetence.
It is important though that we don’t let government off the hook by putting all of their failures down to incompetence when some are intentional and ideological. Whether it is the Windrush scandal or the current approach to refugees taking their lives into their hands to make a perilous journey across the English Channel in hope of a safe and welcoming new home, the Tories have proven time and time again that they are willing to work against the most disadvantaged in our communities. Not content with forcing councils to endure unrelenting cuts from central government, the Tories broke their commitment to fund councils to do whatever it takes to fight Covid-19. We’ve suffered ten long years of austerity, and now they want to make things even worse by putting the vital services our residents rely on at risk. We are at breaking point, and we can’t afford another ten years of the Tories in Downing Street.
Cllr Jack Hopkins