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Bridget_Phillipson_MP_GL_Development_13-10-2017_copy.jpgOn Friday 13 October 2017, Bridget Phillipson, Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, toured the GL Development site at Rainton Bridge South Business Park and met with members of staff and the management team.

Ms Phillipson was keen to see the work that GL Development is undertaking in developing digital assessments for schools, and to learn how digital assessment is instrumental in reducing teacher workload.

GL Development is the digital development centre of GL Assessment, the UK’s largest provider of assessments for schools. Originally called The Test Factory, GL Development has been part of GL Assessment since 2014 and represents an important element of the company’s ongoing investment in digital assessments that support teaching and learning.

Digital assessment can significantly lessen workload for teachers by saving time through automatic and immediate marking and analysis, and it has grown in popularity in both primary and secondary schools over recent years. GL Development’s online testing platform currently delivers three million tests per year, and is used in nearly 100 countries worldwide.

During the visit, Ms Phillipson also met with staff who have been employed as part of GL Development’s apprenticeship programme to discuss the importance of investment in job opportunities for young people in the North East, and the role that GL Development has played in providing these.

Matthew Carr, Head of Technology, GL Development, commented:

“It’s great to be running a business in the North East that is looking to stay put and not be relocated to London.

“I’ve lived and worked in this area all of my life and have seen a lot of investment in our region, including supporting the growth of start-ups, which is how GL Development started out.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to find new local talent that can join our growing team.”

David Glover, Product Director, GL Assessment, commented:

“Providing digital assessment solutions both in the UK and around the world has become central to our business.

“Over the past two years our North East team has worked incredibly hard to develop our new digital assessment platform.

“We launched this in April, and earlier this week the platform has delivered its 2 millionth test, and has already been used by more than 8,000 schools in over 90 countries.

“The team is the essential foundation of our online testing capability, and this is a fantastic achievement.”

Speaking after the visit, Bridget Phillipson MP said:

“I was delighted to visit GL Development today and hear about their work in the North East and the role their digital assessments can play in reducing teacher workload.

“It’s great to see another internationally renowned business invest in our local area and support our local economy.”

“I will keep campaigning to ensure that our local businesses get the investment they need, and that our young people have access to as many opportunities to succeed as possible.”

Bridget Phillipson MP visits GL Development at Rainton Bridge

On Friday 13 October 2017, Bridget Phillipson, Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, toured the GL Development site at Rainton Bridge South Business Park and met with...

Bridget_Phillipson_MP_Inspector_Tony_Carty_Coffee_Morning_15-09-2017.jpegOn Friday 15 September 2017, Bridget Phillipson, Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, held the latest in her series of constituency coffee mornings at Grindon Church Community Project.

Bridget was joined on this occasion by the Northumbria Police Neighbourhood Inspector for Sunderland South and West, Inspector Tony Carty, who updated local residents on the work that the police are doing to fight crime and anti-social behaviour in the Grindon area.

Inspector Carty also briefed residents on the impact that funding cuts have had on local policing. Northumbria Police have had funding cuts of 23% since 2010, the highest level in England and Wales. As a result, the force has cut 900 officers and 200 Police Community Support Officers over the last seven years.

Despite these damaging cuts, Inspector Carty reassured those present that the police are doing all they can to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in the local area. He explained that recent changes in how crimes are recorded has meant that all low-level public order offences are now classed as crimes. However, burglaries and thefts in Grindon remain at a low level, as does vehicle crime.

As far as anti-social behaviour is concerned, the biggest problems remains motorbike disorder. Inspector Carty urged local residents to report such disorder as soon as they saw it so that action can be taken. That particular issue aside, youth anti-social behaviour in the Grindon area is under control.

The remainder of the event was dedicated to discussing other local issues and Bridget’s work in Parliament, including recent votes on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and general Labour Party policy.

If you would like to read more on the points discussed during this coffee morning, or would be interested in attending a future event, please email Bridget at bridget.phillipson.mp@parliament.uk with your contact details. The next coffee morning will be held at the Hetton Centre at 10.30am on Friday 10 November 2017.

Bridget Phillipson MP holds coffee morning in Grindon

On Friday 15 September 2017, Bridget Phillipson, Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, held the latest in her series of constituency coffee mornings at Grindon Church Community...

Bridget_Phillipson_-_Member_of_Parliament_for_Houghton_and_Sunderland_So....jpgIn last month’s column, I highlighted the hypocrisy of a Prime Minister who claimed there was no magic money tree for our vital public services but suddenly discovered an extra billion pounds for Northern Ireland to keep her in Downing Street. The cynical Tory-DUP deal revealed the sham of austerity: there is money available if the government wants to spend it.


Public spending is all about priorities, and it’s clear that this government has got them all wrong. Extra funding for cash-strapped public services is always welcome – whether in Northern Ireland or anywhere else in the UK – but resources should be allocated on need, not political expediency.

This week brought further evidence that ministers are making up their spending plans as they go along, when Education Secretary Justine Greening announced that schools in England would receive an additional £1.3 billion in funding over the next two years.

Nobody was fooled by this poorly-disguised attempt to head off a backbench rebellion over the unfair changes to the new national funding formula, which would have imposed a per-pupil funding cut on 93% of schools in England and every school in our area.

The Education Secretary attempted to present this as new money, but it will actually come from other parts of the education budget – including from capital funding used to invest in crumbling schools.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is never a sensible policy strategy, and it’s hard to see where some of the proposed savings will come from after so many years of austerity.

As someone who campaigned for years to get Hetton School rebuilt, I fail to see how cutting more money from the capital budget for schools buildings and repairs can be a good idea – especially given recent fears over fire safety in schools following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Even with this additional funding, schools will still struggle to make the £3 billion in efficiency savings that the National Audit Office estimates are required by 2019-20 to absorb growing pupil numbers and increased cost pressures from wages, pensions and National Insurance contributions.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies is also clear that school budgets will have declined in real terms by 4.6% between 2015 and 2020 regardless of this announcement, so it’s no wonder that headteachers are begging for extra cash, cutting vital teaching support staff and dropping subjects.

Despite the recent general election result, the Tories clearly still haven’t learnt that parents have had enough of cuts to schools and the services that support them. It’s high time the government changed course and recognised the importance of education in giving our children the best possible start in life.

This article was first published in the Sunderland Echo on 20 July 2017. You can read the original version here.

Bridget Phillipson MP: Government fooling no one with latest announcement on schools funding

In last month’s column, I highlighted the hypocrisy of a Prime Minister who claimed there was no magic money tree for our vital public services but suddenly discovered an extra...


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