Last night was the monthly Full Council meeting at the Town Hall. Your local ward councillors in Stoke Newington had a busy night in the Council chamber. Cllr Muttalip Unluer chaired the meeting in his role as Speaker.
Cllr Rita Krishna, in her role as Cabinet member for Children and Young People answered questions from other councillors on education in Hackney.
The news that for the first time, Hackney GCSE results have exceeded the national average was discussed, and tribute paid to the dedication of staff, governors and pupils across all Hackney schools. There were also questions about the expansion of school places so that more young people can be educated in the Borough. Labour pledged in our last manifesto in 2006 to create 1800 new secondary school places. When our fifth new school opens there will be more than 2500 extra places.
Although some members of the opposition groups on the Council expressed their lack of support for academies - the results from Mossbourne this year (84% of pupils achieved 5 or more good GCSEs) show that the new schools are making a real difference to the achievement and aspirations of pupils in Hackney.
At council meetings, as well as asking questions, councillors can also table motions. Last night, Cllr Louisa Thomson spoke in a debate on the Building Schools for the Future programme in Hackney. This entails £167m of investment in schools to dramatically improve their facilities. By the time the programme is complete in Hackney, 6 schools and 4 special schools in the borough will have benefited from refurbishment or rebuilding. The motion drew attention to the fact that the future of the scheme (across the country) is not secure under a future Tory government - David Cameron has pledged to cut £4.5m of investment from the BSF programme.
The motion was tabled to give councillors the opportunity to reaffirm our support for investing in schools and the future of our young people in Hackney and show how the Conservative Party do differ on this issue. Unfortunately, the Tory group on the Council didn't even stay in the Chamber long enough to debate the policy and defend their national Party's views, having walked out only 10 minutes into the meeting.
The Greens and the Lib Dems dismissed the motion as 'pointless' - and they chose not to support it rather than joining the Labour group in standing up for raising the aspirations and achievements of Hackney pupils.
This blog was also raised in the Council Chamber - good to know that we have an engaged readership out there!