FCO Minister For Asia And The Pacific Arrives In China For Five Day Visit

FCO Minister Mark Field to visit five cities in China in five days, supporting the Golden Era of UK-China relations

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

FCO Minister for Asia and the Pacific, is today (22 July) starting a five-day visit to China. The visit will include visiting Beijing, Chongqing, Chengdu, Nanjing and Shanghai, in a programme reflecting the breadth and depth of business, investment and science and innovation links between the UK and China.

During his second official trip to China as Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Minister Field will call on senior Chinese government officials. Meetings are set to include China’s Vice Minister Guo Yezhou in Beijing, Executive Vice Mayor Wu Cunrong in Chongqing, Mayor Luo Qiang in Chengdu and Vice Governor Guo Yuanqiang of Jiangsu Province.

In Beijing, the Minister will discuss bilateral issues and UK-China co-operation on foreign policy issues of shared concern, ahead of the UK-China Strategic Dialogue on 30 July. He will also tour the Centre of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Science (CEPAMS), a leading example of the benefits achieved from bringing together UK and Chinese expertise in scientific research to tackle the global challenges of food security and sustainable health care.

The Minister’s visit to Chongqing coincides with the celebrations on the 35th anniversary of Chevening, the UK government’s global flagship scholarship programme, in China. In Chengdu, he will visit a joint UK-China research project at the State Key Lab of Geo-hazard Prevention and Geo-environmental Protection. This project is funded by the UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund, which brings together leading researchers and innovators from the UK and China.

On the last leg of his visit, Minister Field will continue to Eastern China. In Nanjing, he will visit BGT materials, a successful example of UK-China collaboration in commercialising scientific breakthroughs. In Shanghai, the Minister will visit the Shanghai Museum exhibition ‘Landscapes of the Mind: Masterpieces from Tate Britain’ and discuss opportunities with one of China’s leading museums about further future collaboration in the cultural and creative sectors.

Speaking on arrival in China, UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, the Rt Hon Mark Field MP said:

As my second official visit to China, I am honoured to have the opportunity to visit different parts of the country to experience the breadth and depth of cooperation between our two countries.

China is an essential partner for the UK in many areas, from science and innovation to trade and investment. I look forward to seeing more partnerships develop as we strengthen our links in the new chapter of our ‘Golden Era’.

Statement On White Helmets

Statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt on resettlement of White Helmets from Syria

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

Following a joint diplomatic effort by the UK and international partners, a group of White Helmets volunteers from southern Syria and their families have been able to leave Syria for safety.

They are now being assisted by the UNHCR in Jordan pending international resettlement.

The White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, at great risk to their own. Many White Helmets volunteers have also been killed while doing their work – trying to rescue civilians trapped in bombarded buildings or providing first aid to injured civilians. White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection. We therefore took steps with the aim of affording that protection to as many of the volunteers and their families as possible.

We pay tribute to the brave and selfless work that White Helmets volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict.

Measures Announced To Help Schools Reduce Teacher Workload

Education Secretary announces new online resources for teachers to reduce time spent on 'unnecessary' tasks and support to focus on teaching

Teacher working at his desk

Teacher working at his desk

Head teachers will receive more support to free their staff from unnecessary and time-consuming tasks, under plans set out today by Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

Building on his pledge to champion the teaching profession and reduce workload in schools, Mr Hinds today (Saturday 21 July) launched a series of online resources to help head teachers take action to remove burdensome responsibilities – freeing teachers to focus on what matters: inspiring pupils in their classrooms.

This comes as research published today in the School Snapshot Surveyshows that almost three-quarters (73%) of surveyed school leaders and teachers say their schools have already taken action to reduce unnecessary workload, such as an overhaul or reduction of marking practices.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

There can be no great schools without great teachers to motivate children and inspire curiosity. But teachers don’t choose to teach because they want to do endless hours of data entry or deep marking.

I believe we need to get back to the heart of successful teaching – to strip away the workload that doesn’t add value and give teachers the time to focus on what actually matters, the pupils in front of them.

I am very encouraged that three quarters of school leaders are taking action to review workload and today’s announcements and the practical help they provide should give head teachers the confidence and means to go even further.

Today’s announcements build on the Education Secretary’s speech at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference in March, where he made clear that neither the government nor Ofsted require teachers to spend time filling out templates for individual lesson plans, or “triple marking” every piece of work.

The online toolkit reinforces this message by providing further support for head teachers to help schools eliminate practices that have little benefit in the classroom. Developed with leading teachers, school leaders and technology experts it will provide:

  • advice and workshops on the most burdensome tasks such as pupil feedback and marking, planning and resources, and data management;
  • ready-made tools to help schools quickly implement new policies, and cut down on time-consuming tasks such as email communication; and
  • a series of case studies to share knowledge of how schools across the country have used technology to streamline processes.

Alongside this toolkit, the School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has today launched the first in a series of online videos – made with teaching unions, professional bodies and schools – providing advice and guidance on workload.

The first video – on the theme of planning – features the joint general secretaries of the National Education Union, Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, and makes clear that individual lesson planning is not a requirement from either the Department for Education or Ofsted. This follows research published today in the Government’s ‘Use and Perceptions of Curriculum Support Resources in Schools’ report which found that collaboration or sharing of resources between schools, departments and teachers helped to reduce the workload associated with curriculum planning.

Today’s announcements build on plans to boost teacher development opportunities, the launch of a workload advisory group, a strategy to build on the 32,710 trainees recruited last year, and a pledge to introduce more flexible working practices that will put the profession on a par with other industries, including a £5 million fund to help experienced teachers take a sabbatical.

In full, the Education Secretary confirmed:

  • the launch of a workload reduction toolkit – an online resource providing practical advice and examples to help staff in schools take action to reduce workload;
  • the publication of a report, ‘Use and Perceptions of Curriculum Support Resources in Schools’; and
  • the publication of School Snapshot Survey which, among other things, shows that 73% of the classroom teachers and senior leaders surveyed reported that their school has taken action to review or update school policies to improve workload and 67% reported that their school has taken action to change or reduce marking.

Children Affected By Domestic Abuse To Benefit From £8 Million Fund

Today the Home Office has announced a new £8 million fund to support children who have been affected by domestic abuse

Home Office

Home Office

The fund gives charities, local authorities and other organisations the chance to bid for money for projects designed to intervene early to help children who have been directly or indirectly affected by domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse ruins the lives of its victims with more than 2 million people subjected to this terrible crime each year. However, NSPCC statistics show that as many as 1 in 5 children in the UK are also witness to or exposed to this horrible crime during childhood.

This could be through being exposed to domestic abuse in the family home, experiencing domestic abuse in their own intimate partner relationships or demonstrating harmful behaviours to those closest to them. Some 25% of girls and 18% of boys aged 13 to 17 have reported having experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner.

Those children affected by domestic abuse in their early years are 4 times more likely to go on and experience or perpetrate domestic abuse later in life. Further studies have also concluded that children affected by domestic abuse are at greater risk of falling into substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy and criminal behaviour than those raised in homes without violence.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said:

It is heart-breaking to think that all too often children are unwittingly caught up in the effects of domestic abuse and for some, the mental scars of such early exposure will significantly impact on their lives.

However, we can intervene early to give these young people a lifeline and organisations are already providing services, which this government will help support through the fund we are opening today.

This government is absolutely committed to tackling these appalling crimes and is determined that no one should suffer at the hands of the people closest to them.

The multi-million pound boost comes from a £20 million investment designated specifically to help transform the lives of victims of domestic abuse set aside in the Budget and it is part of our wider work to tackle violence against women and children.

The government will assess the applications before informing successful groups in the autumn. Applications will be open until 19 September.

The NSPCC have championed greater support for children affected by domestic abuse. The charity’s Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) service supports mothers and children who have experienced domestic abuse, through group work and activities together. The NSPCC deliver the programme in 3 areas and have also trained 15 other organisations who provide the service in their areas.

Almudena Lara, NSPCC Head of Policy, said:

The NSPCC receives thousands of contacts every year about frightened children living with domestic abuse across the country, and we know that it can cause serious harm to children’s emotional and physical wellbeing.

We want all children, and their parents, who have suffered domestic abuse to have access to the right services to help keep them safe and recover from these traumatic experiences.

Through the Violence Against Woman and Girls (VAWG) service transformation fund the Home Office has already funded programmes aimed at supporting children affected by domestic abuse.

This has included a project in Cambridge, which provides long-term support for young victims and survivors of VAWG and young perpetrators, and a scheme in Southwark, where youngsters who have not engaged with existing support services are given bespoke support.

The fund comes as the government continues to work towards publishing its draft Domestic Abuse Bill following the domestic abuse public consultation earlier this year, which received more than 3,200 responses. This world-leading piece of legislation will create stronger powers to intervene early to stop abuse occurring, pursue perpetrators, and protect and support victims and survivors.

Measures included in the consultation include:

  • new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to allow police and courts to act earlier and more effectively when abuse is suspected – these could include compulsory alcohol treatment, attending a programme to address perpetrators’ underlying attitudes or addictions, and using electronic tagging to monitor them
  • the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse recognising the many kinds of abuse suffered(psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional) – this will help to improve understanding among front-line professionals, law enforcement officers and prosecutors
  • the creation of a domestic abuse commissioner to stand up for victims, monitor the provision of domestic abuse services and hold the government to account

The consultation also includes further proposals, for example, to put a new statutory aggravating factor in law, similar to those already in place for hate crimes. This would mean courts would have to consider tougher sentences up to the maximum penalty available, especially when children are involved.

You can read more information on how to apply for the fund.

Welsh Government Working With DECA On Plans For Second Welsh Advanced Manufacturing And Research Institute

The Welsh Government has made significant progress in its plans to establish a second Advanced Manufacturing and Research Institute (AMRI) in North Wales, Economy Secretary Ken Skates has said

Jason Leeks, DECA Head of strategy and Governance hosted the Deeside Enterprise Zone (DEZ) Board and Welsh Government’s Economy Secretary, Mr Ken Skates who was in attendance at this particularly important meeting of the Enterprise Zone Board

Jason Leeks, DECA Head of strategy and Governance hosted the Deeside Enterprise Zone (DEZ) Board and Welsh Government’s Economy Secretary, Mr Ken Skates who was in attendance at this particularly important meeting of the Enterprise Zone Board

The Economy Secretary confirmed that following a meeting of the Deeside Enterprise Zone on 13 July, the Welsh Government has declared its intention to work with the Enterprise Zone Board and the Ministry of Defence led by the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA), to develop a proposal that would see Wales’ second AMRI situated on MOD land adjacent to the Deeside Industrial Park Interchange.

Wales second AMRI follows the first in Broughton which is currently under construction and due to open by the end of 2019.

Speaking ahead of his visit to the Farnborough Air Show, Ken Skates said:

News that DECA are keen to work with us to develop an AMRI on Deeside is incredibly positive and exciting, particularly given DECA’s prominence as a world leader in the test and repair of avionic and electronic component support services.

Both I and the Deeside Enterprise Zone are hugely encouraged that the MOD supports, in principle, the use of such a prominent and accessible piece of land at the gateway to North Wales for this exciting project, and I am delighted to announce this as I travel to Farnborough to celebrate Wales’ thriving and successful aerospace sector.

In developing our plans for Wales’ second AMRI we have listened carefully to the needs of business. As a result of that dialogue we intend to develop the second AMRI as an open access centre, which will include a real focus on skills development across the advanced manufacturing & materials and technology sectors. Delivering everything from apprenticeships right through to postdoctoral research it will be a real jewel in North Wales’ crown.

I am confident the second AMRI in Wales will be of huge benefit to companies across North Wales, including in the aerospace sector, and I look forward to attracting significant high value inward investors to the region, many of whom are already showing a keen interest.

Defence Minister Guto Bebb said:

The development of a second AMRI in Wales will provide a real boost to industry and demonstrates how Defence delivers for Wales. This announcement follows the publication of the Dunne Review this week which highlights that defence invests £945 million in Welsh industry and supports over 6,000 industry jobs.

Speaking before attending the Farnborough Air Show where DECA are exhibiting, Geraint Spearing, Chief Executive, Defence Electronics and Components Agency said

Following the announcement in November 2016 that DECA and its industry partners BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman would become the global hub for F-35 component repair, I am delighted to be able to support Welsh Government, in principle on behalf of MOD, in taking forward their proposed plans for a second AMRI at DECA.

I am also tremendously proud that, should this proposal proceed, we will be able to continue DECA’s commitment to growing apprenticeships and high-end manufacturing skills now and in the future supporting local, regional and national job sustainment, Welsh Government’s advanced manufacturing and skills strategies and the UK Government’s Prosperity Agenda.

The Economy Secretary is visiting Farnborough to meet key players from the Aerospace Sector and celebrate the successes of companies based in Wales.

While at the show he will meet representatives of a range of Aerospace companies and organisations including Raytheon, Thales, Dennis Ferrati, Otto Fuchs and DECA.

The Economy Secretary will also visit the Qatar Airways Stand who have recently begun daily direct flights between Cardiff and Doha.

These, along with the direct Manchester flights serving North Wales, are opening up tourism and business links between Wales and vibrant markets in the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand China and India.

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