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Here's my letter in today's The Guardian calling on the Conservative Government to look at what's worked in London's schools, rather than focus on structures whether that's Grammar Schools, Free Schools or Academies.  

You can read my full letter here: 

As young people collect their A-level and GCSE results this month, London’s experience shows that it is good teaching, effective leadership and funding that gets results. Not fixating on structures whether it’s Grammar Schools, Academies or Free Schools.

Despite high levels of deprivation, London’s children now consistently outperform their peers at Key Stage 2 and GCSE and London has the highest percentage of schools in the country that are good or outstanding. This hasn’t always been the case. Schemes like the London Challenge, established by the last Labour Government, played a key role in the transformation by focusing on the quality of leadership, teaching and learning and providing much needed new funding.

Thanks to the huge progress that has been made in education across London, children growing up here from poorer backgrounds are much more likely to achieve good results than anywhere else. It is essential that the funding that has made this possible is protected.

If Theresa May meant anything on the steps of number 10 when she spoke of standing up for the many not just the privileged few, she should look to London rather than selective areas where the opposite is the case.

Catherine West
Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green
Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on London

My letter in The Guardian on the success of London's schools

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As Shadow Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for Asia-Pacific, I have been closely following the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and it was a subject I raised directly with the Chinese when I attended The 5th China-Europe High-level Political Parties Forum in Beijing in May 2016.

I specifically highlighted that island-building and the deployment of military forces on the Islands of the South China Sea was of great concern to the UK and our European neighbours, as well as those parties affected within the South China Sea Region.

I have raised this issue in the House of Commons, tabling a number of Parliamentary Questions in the Chamber, one in February 2016, in advance of my visit to China where I asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he had received of deployment by China of surface-to-air missiles on the Paracels Islands in the South China Sea.

I also wrote directly to the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, requesting his assessment of the situation and urging him to outline what steps his department was taking to prevent the militarisation of the South China Sea region.

On 12 July the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague ruled against Chinese claims to territorial rights and that same morning I questioned the Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond on whether the UK Government agreed this ruling must be respected.  I said: "Earlier today, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled against Chinese claims to territorial rights in the South China sea, backing a case brought by the Philippines. Does the Secretary of State agree that the PCA’s ruling must be respected, and that any non-compliance by the Chinese Government would not only cause severe reputational damage to China but constitute a serious breach of international law?"

In his response the Secretary of State said: "The UK’s position has always been, and will remain, that we urge respect for international law and the rules-based international system, and decisions arising from international tribunals. As the hon. Lady will know, the ruling is 501 pages long. It flopped on to my desk just before coming over here to answer questions."  He went on to say "We will study the decision carefully"  

I will continue to follow the issue closely and raise more questions when Parliament returns in September.  

Statement from Catherine West MP on South China Sea Dispute

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