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Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson on the Government's U-turn over A-level and GCSE exam grades and easyJet closing its base at Stansted Airport

Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson writes for the Bishop's Stortford Independent...

I would like to pay tribute to all students, teachers, teaching assistants and headteachers in our community for getting through particularly trying times these last few months and, for many, a particularly stressful few days.

In Hertford and Stortford, we have wonderful schools which achieve great things for our children, not just in achieving exam grades, but in turning out rounded, engaging and thoughtful young adults with a breadth of skills which will help them throughout their lives. Education is about so much more than grades, but as we all know, public exams are a fact of life and it has been a huge blow that A level and GCSE exams did not take place this year.

The best efforts of the regulator and Government to produce an alternative has proved unworkable and this has caused extra anxiety and uncertainty which I hope has been brought to an end with the announcement on Monday that grades will be awarded based on teacher assessments.

I am extremely pleased that this decision has been made. I spent much of the weekend feeding back to the Government some of the individual stories and injustices of local students which were raised with me and I know that this communication process from many MPs has resulted in this welcome change. The Government has also lifted the student numbers cap, so this should also help ensure that our students will be able to take their chosen next steps.

I have tried to assist all those who approached me and I congratulate every student, including those many fantastic vocational students, who have worked tirelessly for their studies. There will be many young people picking up GCSE or equivalent results this Thursday as well. Good luck to you all.

Successful students at the Herts and Essex High School (40752832)
Successful students at the Herts and Essex High School (40752832)

That brings me to another action that I am taking: my Online Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair. Last week, I made the Facebook event live and would like to thank all residents for checking this out already. Those who have not seen the event yet can do so by going through my Facebook page.

I am determined not to let this pandemic stop me trying to bring greater opportunity to Hertford and Stortford residents. I already have around 20 businesses and organisations set to exhibit on the day who will be advertising job vacancies, apprenticeship opportunities and career advice to those who attend.

This will be an event for young people who are assessing their future options, for job seekers who want to find a role soon and for those who want a change of career. The fair will run from 10am until 1pm on Friday September 18 and will run over Zoom, allowing all attendees to speak to whichever businesses or organisations they want to.

I will be posting more updates including which businesses and organisations will be exhibiting on the day, so please do click "Going" on the event to receive notifications.

I have regularly said how impressed I am with the positivity and resilience of local retailers, businesses and residents and have always passed on to ministers their feedback about their experiences and challenges during the lockdown. In Hertford and Stortford, the furlough scheme protected 16,200 jobs, and the Treasury gave almost £15m support to self-employed people, £73m of bounce back loans for small companies and £24m of business grants in our constituency. From my conversations, it's obvious that these figures have translated into real lifelines to so many businesses and people as they navigate tricky waters.

I am, however, very disappointed that easyJet has confirmed its decision to close its base at Stansted Airport. This is devastating news for many in our community who work there, and I am speaking to Stansted and easyJet this week to discuss how the fall out can best be managed for those most impacted. If you are one of the people set to lose your job, please do contact my office if I can be of any help.

They say it never rains but it pours and we've had a real weather-related deluge to contend with, particularly in Bishop's Stortford. I am now working in conjunction with local councillors to respond to the recent flooding which has caused difficulties for local people and businesses.

easyJet protest at Stansted Airport (40752819)
easyJet protest at Stansted Airport (40752819)

In these remaining few weeks of the school holidays I would highly recommend a day out to Paradise Wildlife Park, another great local business which would benefit from our support, particularly if, like me, you are an animal lover!

I wish you all the best and hope that you and your families keep well.

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