Bristol Education Hustings:
Bristol residents are being invited to come along to an education hustings to help them find out more about the future vision of education held by parliamentary candidates in the city.
The event will give voters a chance to put their questions about education, teaching, funding and Send to a range of candidates during a hustings. Lively debate is expected and a roving mic will be on hand to take plenty of questions from the floor.
The future of education in the city has been of huge concern in Bristol, especially around the funding of Special Educational Needs and Disability (Send) both locally and nationally. Whilst all questions surrounding education are invited, there will be a dedicated section for Send due to significant issues Bristol faces with its provision.
The hustings is being organised by the Bristol Send Alliance with support from the National Education Union (NEU).
The alliance is comprised of groups in Bristol who have been campaigning for educational equity and equality and improved provision for children and young people with Send.
Autism Independence, Bristol Independent Send Community (BISC), Bristol Send Crisis and SEND Action are staging the event along with support from Jon Reddiford of the NEU.
“Parents and carers in Bristol are really concerned about education, funding and of course, difficulties surrounding provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disability,” Sally Kent of BISC.
“This event will give everyone the much needed information to help decide which party to vote for. Bring along your questions and come and hear what all the parties have to say.”
BISC was launched just before the Bristol Judicial Review of 2018, with one of its members forming a small group of parents who successfully took Bristol City Council to court over £5M cuts to the High Needs Block.
The group have since continued to campaign and lobby local council for better funded Send provision as well as highlight a predicted shortfall of special school places which came to fruition this year.
Founder of Autism Independence, Nura Aabe was also keen to work with the alliance having had her own legal battles over suitable provision for her son. Through Autism Independence, she aims to bridge the information gap between families and providers and is a strong spokesperson for autism related issues within the Bristol Somali community.
“Far too long so many families with special educational needs experienced barriers after barriers accessing adequate services for their loved ones,” she says. “This event provides a platform for those families out of reach to share their concerns.”
Kerry Bailes of Bristol SEND Crisis adds her concerns about the inequality of education in Bristol. She lives in Hartcliffe and believes through experience that working class communities – especially in the south – just aren’t accessing the same opportunities available to others.
Kerry said: “We live in an unbalanced society which allows the education system to be not only financially selective but socially belligerent, seeing working class communities left behind (Across South Bristol only 15.7 per cent of young people went on to higher education, compared with the national average of 35.5 per cent.”
She highlights the University of Bristol study that found 21.3 per cent of young people in Windmill Hill and 27.5 per cent in Southville did go to university. But says it’s a very different story for those living in Filwood where statistics show only 6.6 per cent went on to higher education, alongside 8 per cent from Whitchurch Park and 8.6 per cent from Hartcliffe.
She hopes the disparity – referred to as the TwoCities issue in Bristol Twitter education discussions is something the prospective parliamentary candidates will address during the evening.
The evening will be hosted by Martin Booth, the editor of Bristol 24/7 and will take place at Bristol University.
Due to the popularity of the event, attendees will need to book a free place to guarantee entry: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bristol-education-hustings-tickets-82171026753
The Bristol Education Hustings will take place on Wednesday 04 December 2019 from 5-7pm in G25 of the Wills Memorial Building on Park Street.
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