Howard's Way 3 November 2005

Contributed by editor on Nov 04, 2005 - 03:01 AM

HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

3 November 2005

As readers will know I take my constituency advice centres very seriously. In more than 22 years I could probably count the number I have missed (for unavoidable reasons) on the finger of one hand.

They fulfil many purposes. They give me the opportunity to help people with their problems. Of course I don’t have a magic wand but there are times when I can make a difference. They also give you all a chance to sound off at me. And they also keep me in touch with what is really happening.

An excellent example of this occurred on Saturday morning at my advice centre in Hawkinge. A primary schoolteacher came to see me to tell me how one of the Government’s latest initiatives is actually working out.

It is meant to reduce the workload on teachers, something we could all agree on. But no additional resources have been provided. So what is happening is that unqualified people, often without the necessary literacy and numeracy skills, are actually teaching the children. 

This cannot be right. I shall be asking the Education Secretary how widespread the problem is and what she intends to do about it.

On Saturday afternoon I spent an hour behind the counter at the Barnardo’s charity shop in Hythe High Street. This was part of National Volunteering Day which is designed to draw attention to the importance of voluntary work and to encourage people to do more of it. I’m not sure how much use I was but I certainly enjoyed the time I spent at the till.

Saturday evening saw me welcome the four countries which were taking part in the Miss Euroregion contest at the Burstin Hotel and on Sunday morning I went to a very special service at Dymchurch Parish Church.

This was to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Dymchurch branch of the Royal British Legion. There was a tremendous turnout and it was a very splendid occasion. Another timely reminder of how much we owe to those who have made such sacrifices for us in the past.