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Reynolds column: Question Times at local schools

In his latest Reporter column, the Stalybridge and Hyde MP recounts a busy week which involved being grilled by pupils at various schools.

It’s been another busy week. In Parliament, I closed the Queen’s Speech debate, and highlighted the Government’s woefully inadequate legislative programme in response to the serious issues the country is facing. I also visited Sainsbury’s with Labour Leader Keir Starmer, and talked with the Chief Executive, staff and customers about the challenges of rocketing inflation and the cost of living crisis. I firmly believe we need an emergency budget with concrete measures to help households and businesses through this.

At home in the constituency I enjoyed a brilliant visit to the excellent Wild Bank Community School. The grilling from the school council was great - there are definitely some future Andrew Marrs and Laura Kuenssbergs among these talented and determined pupils! It’s always encouraging to see schools giving children a chance to understand and participate in democracy from a young age.

It was also great to visit Copley Academy secondary school. I was grilled by great students again, with some very thoughtful questions about being an MP. I also talked to the headteacher and trust director about improvements being made at the school. Copley is now consistently improving under the current leadership, which is great to see. Local students deserve nothing less, and I’m keeping a watchful eye on the pace of change, whilst lending everyone working hard to turn it around my full support.

The beauty of hybrid working is that I could also answer questions from pupils at Longdendale School via Zoom when I had returned to my office in Parliament.

Longdendale pupils quizzed me on climate change, jobs, homelessness, education and the impact of the pandemic. They also asked me about my pets (two dogs, two fish) and my favourite subject at school (history).

This week I also met with the Family Hub network. In an acknowledgment that scrapping Labour’s successful SureStart centres was short-sighted, the Government have now announced the creation of uncannily similar sounding Family Hubs to support parents and infants, and I’m pleased that Tameside will receive some funding towards this. 

I met with the co-ordinators to talk about implementing it here, and how to give local children the best start in life.

I also met with representatives from Cadent, the company behind the gas works which have taken place through Mottram over the past few weeks. I put your questions to them via Facebook Live, so you got a chance to have your say. It’s fair to say this has been a stressful and challenging time for Longdendale residents and businesses alike. I appreciated Cadent being willing to respond to your questions directly, and thank everyone affected for their patience.

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