Brighton University nursery and GCSE stories from summer 2016

Twelve longest-serving Cooperative nursery staff at the University of Sussex were threatened with a change to their contract in spite of 187 combined years service in early August.

You can read more information about this issue in an article first published by Brighton and Hove News on 12 August.

Less than a week later, by  Thursday 18 August, Cooperative Childcare offered better terms to their most loyal nursery staff by doubling their consolidation package. Nursery staff may still leave. More details here.

Brighton GCSE students buck the national trend

Alisha Gilbert and Alfie Hammond from Longhill High School
Alisha Gilbert and Alfie Hammond from Longhill High School

Longhill High School is proud to buck the national trend of a falling A* to C pass rate. More than half Longhill’s students, 56 per cent, achieved 5 A* to C grades including English and Maths. Students from Longhill High School improved their GCSE results by six points since last year.

Alfie Hammond got four As, three Bs and two C grades. He said: “I feel quite chuffed. I am very happy.”

Next year he will take biology, chemistry and economics A levels at BHASVIC.

Alisha Gilbert is really happy too, particularly for getting an A in English literature and a B in English language against the odds. She will join Alfie at BHASVIC to study maths, chemistry and physics.

You can read more about Longhill success stories here.


Dorothy Stringer students compete with Cardinal Newman for top GCSE results in Brighton and Hove

A* student Yian Zeng from Dorothy Stringer
A* student Yian Zeng from Dorothy Stringer

Dorothy Stringer School outperformed all other state schools in their GCSE results, beaten only by rival faith school Cardinal Newman.

Yian Zeng was the top performing student at Dorothy Stringer.  As well as achieving 13 A* grades at GCSE, she also secured AS results in philosophy and ethics and Chinese as well as an A in additional mathematicsFSMQ.

Zoe Alexander got ten A* grades and an A. She said: “I feel relieved and happy. I am very surprised as well. It was a lot of hard work.”

One of Zoe’s teachers said: “You could not get anybody who has worked harder for her results.”

Zoe Alexander right with Nellie Mills from Dorothy Stringer

You can read more details at Brighton and Hove News here.

Best ever GCSE results for Varndean School

Students at Varndean School have improved their GCSE exam results with 61 per cent of students gaining five A* to C GCSE passes, including English and mathematics.

Nine students achieved ten or more A* or A grades and almost 20 per cent of all students achieved five or more A* or A grades.

Forty per cent of all grades awarded were A* to B and three students achieved a Level 3 extended project qualification usually reserved for sixth form students, two of whom achieved A grades.

Varndean students with Headmaster William Deighan

More details at Brighton and Hove News here.

Hove businesswoman publishes gluten and sugar free healthy baking book

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.

A Hove businesswoman has published a healthy baking book with recipes using natural ingredients including alternatives to refined sugar.

Jo Dance also steers clear of gluten and cow’s milk in her book, To the Bakery and Beyond.

The most common form of refined sugar that many of us use is granulated sugar, she said. Recipes do contain natural sugar found in fruit, for example.

She said: “Refined sugar is not in the ancestor’s diet. It is an alien food that damages the liver and suppresses the hormone leptin. This means that a person’s body does not send a message to the brain when it is full.”

When she began her research she thought that she would have to avoid eating sweet foods altogether but she said: “Although sugary foods are best kept to a minimum in our diets, at this point in my life I do like to have some sweet food.

“I was determined to make more informed choices about which kinds of sweeteners I ate so as to minimise the damage done to my body.

“Refined sugar, for example, in traditional chocolate products, draws the minerals out from the body and destroys vitamin B. Refined sugar can also cause obesity because refined sugar spikes the insulin levels which means more energy is stored as fat and it can make people tired.

“You can eat raw chocolate instead. A carefully chosen raw chocolate bar would make a good substitute for anyone who wants to indulge.”

She is mindful that not everything branded healthy is actually good for us. She would love to see clearer food labelling when it comes to sugar and wonders whether an expansion of the existing traffic light system could be used for all foods.

This would be really helpful for many people, she said, especially parents who want to make more educated choices for their children.

She became interested in healthy food when she had her son Oscar. She wanted to know how to bring him up with a gluten-free diet. She found when she was shopping that even in health food shops she couldn’t find what she wanted.

She said: “Healthier foods for kids are often packed full of dates which are high in natural sugar. My book helps you learn how to adapt recipes yourself.

“I’m not trying to pretend that this kind of baking gives you exactly the same results as the more traditional types of sweet foods many of us are used to.

“It can also take your tastes buds a while to adjust to a less sweet taste as well as a slightly different texture.

“My baking may not always be light and fluffy but it is a lot lighter than the sugar-laden manufactured products you would buy in a supermarket.

“A large part of the book is writing to make educated and empowered choices.”

Milk is another red light. She never has cows’ milk. Alternatives she favours are oat, coconut or rice milk.

She said: “The problem with milk is the pasteurisation process which strips the milk of nutrients. Two thirds of people lack the enzyme to digest and break down the lactose in milk. Pasteurisation also removes the good bacteria.”

Another concern is the chemicals which are used when milk is pasteurised. She said: “Cows milk is perfect for cows but not for humans. You can make your own milk from coconut or almonds or brown rice.”

She also advised reading the label before buying nut and grain milks as many that are branded healthy products contain unnecessary additives and sweeteners.

Her idea for the book began after she gave food parcels to her friends and they then asked for the recipes. She began to write down her notes and the science behind her recipe choices but realised the project was bigger – and the book was born.

She said that there was a misconception about gluten-free, adding: “Not everything gluten-free is healthy. It is another bugbear of mine. There is a lot of demand for gluten-free food and people have jumped on the bandwagon.”

She said that people should avoid highly processed foods or anything with long ingredient lists.

A percentage of the profits from her book would be donated to Fareshare Sussex, she said, because she is passionate about food poverty and especially food waste by the food industry and the general public. Fareshare redistributes food from the food industry to homeless and other vulnerable people.

Primarily she hopes that her book will help people to make more informed choices about what they eat.

Recipes are available on her Joy Food Revolution website.

To the Bakery and Beyond by Jo Dance was published in paperback by Silverwood Books (112 pages) on Friday 15 July. It costs £10.99.

The Labour Party must unite to win elections

On Thursday 14 July the Labour Party suspended Brighton and Hove branch until after the leadership election according to the Guardian.

The Labour Party in Brighton and Hove held a momentum rally on Tuesday 02 August 2016 and members and supporters thought Mr Corbyn may come to speak.

At a Labour member only meeting after the rally on 02 August, I think in a recount, six “Keep Corbyn” candidates were elected to Brighton and Hove’s Labour Party executive committee and one position was declared later bringing the “Keep Corbyn” candidates to seven. Five candidates from the right wing of the Labour Party were elected.

Across the UK, this pattern was replicated with 82% (or 71 out of 87) Labour Party branches passing motions in support of Mr Corbyn.

His supporters and the Momentum movement took three of five key positions in Brighton and Hove: Chair, Mark Sandell, Treasurer, Claire Wadey and Secretary, Greg Hadfield.

The Labour Party
Standing room only at Brighton and Hove Momentum rally

Brighton’s Mr Hadfield said: “This is the biggest turnout of the biggest party unit supporting Jeremy Corbyn with the biggest majority in England. It has been the most exciting day of my political life.”

Other candidates already elected were Anne Pissaridou as Vice Chair (campaigns) and Christine Robinson as Vice Chair (membership.) Remaining posts will be announced on Monday including candidate Daniel Harris who said: “This is a turnout for democracy today.”

Just over 600 Labour party members (15%) from three constituencies voted for their national executive committee by a ratio of 2:1 in favour of pro-Corbyn candidates at City College.

At the AGM which followed the Keep Corbyn rally, voting did not finish until 6pm, three hours after members arrived to vote.  A planned two hour hustings for members at the AGM was compressed into three successive half hour sessions because of high turnout.

A pro-Corbyn “City Party” will now seek to hold to account the main reforming “progress” wing of the Brighton and Hove Labour Party pioneered by Tony Blair.

Nationally the Labour Party remains divided. Only 38 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party now support Mr Corbyn.

Without support from 51 MPs in Parliament, Mr Corbyn may not be able to stand as a candidate in the next Labour leadership election.

Hove MP Peter Kyle cast his vote in the ballot at the Brighton and Hove AGM last Saturday but did not comment at that time.

He has already said publicly that he does not support Mr Corbyn and will therefore back Angela Eagle MP to become the next leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party by default, unless other candidates such as Owen Smith come forward.

Labour’s National Executive Committee may introduce a cut-off point for joining the party, ostensibly to prevent vote-rigging by people from other parties joining the Labour Party, who may distort the result.

It is likely that only one candidate will stand against Mr Corbyn because the reform or progress wing within the party needs to unite their supporters. Two national contenders would split the reform vote.

Party Activist Kate Knight said: “I am incensed by what appears to be the contempt of the Parliamentary Labour Party for democracy.”

Ms Knight said seven hundred and fifteen new members had joined the Labour Party since the EU referendum two weeks ago from Goldsmid and Hove Park wards in Hove.

Danielle Spencer from Hove was a humanitarian aid worker in Somalia who returned to England specifically to get involved in Momentum.

As a labour supporter, she is very distressed by austerity and said: “People are oppressed by it, austerity is unjust, unfair and unwarranted.

“I came back very disillusioned with the way the Labour Party was progressing and not protecting the rights of the people that it was set up to protect and defend.

“I thought people would unite. The country is in the greatest need, now the Parliamentary Labour Party is not listening to Labour Party members.

“Labour activists are rooting for Mr Corbyn and the councillors need to dedicate themselves to the people who voted for them.

“The Parliamentary Labour Party has ignored the public feeling during the war in Iraq. The war created voter apathy, disaffection and distrust.

“Now people are interested in politics again but I am not sure the Labour Party can survive.

“Prejudice at the BBC is another issue. I used to work in communications there. It is not reporting Mr Corbyn fairly. It is confused and twisted.

“The BBC’s job is to inform, educate and instruct. It is not there to take sides.”

Hove’s businesswoman Jo Dance joined a political party, Labour, in the last fortnight for the first time.

She said: “I’m really saddened by all the anti-Corbyn feeling in the parliamentary party at the moment. I, like many others, felt the Labour party in recent years had become a kind of ‘Tory Light’. I was totally against the war in Iraq, and took to the streets in London at the time to protest against that.

“I feel at odds with some policies that Peter Kyle my local MP has been supporting, (Syria for example), and I really hope that this new momentum (of Momentum!) can carry Mr Corbyn through.”

Under Mr Corbyn’s leadership Labour membership has grown exponentially to 500,000 members.

MPs from the Parliamentary Labour Party ignore Mr Corbyn’s electoral mandate at their peril. To have any hope of electoral success, Labour reformers must argue about policies rather than personalities and win the argument, not just in Parliament, but in labour branches, unions and affiliated organisations throughout the United Kingdom.