Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Is there a common purpose ?

UK Column News 2 November 2018:

In the studio with Mike Robinson is David Scott from Northern Exposure. 

Mike Robinson begins: "Here is Sarah Thornton and of course over the last couple of days the National Chiefs` Police Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners were holding their partnership summit because, as we know, everything is about partnership, and well, she was saying something that did get some media coverage: that incidents of misogyny, claims against dead people, should not be pursued. So this is about police priorities and the amount of money the police have to spend on various things and, of course, the rise, or at least the alleged rise, of violent crime in the country. So let`s see what she actually said. Here we go."

"Neither investigating gender-based hate crime or investigating allegations against those who have died are necessarily bad things - I just argue that they cannot be priorities for a service that is over-stretched."

"Well this is all pretty hypocritical, David, because why would we not  want to investigate people who have been abusing children even in the past?"

David Scott: "You have an institutionalised abuse network; you have people right up to [a] former prime minister who has been abusing children on an industrial scale; you have the cover-up of that industrial scale abuse ... through the police, through the courts, through the entire system. You don`t want to know, Mike; you don`t want to know because the people are dead and it`s time to move on and we need to be looking at far more important things. And it`s just the same as looking at hate incidents and basically gossip on social media; it`s the same sort of level. We`re going to equate these two things so that people get the idea that investigating the core breakdown of our society is not really that important and should not be a priority for the police."

Mike Robinson: "Well let`s just remind everybody that Sarah Thornton does have form here because, of course, one of the subjects that we were trying to cover for quite a number of years was the abuse that was taking place at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College. And Sarah Thornton was Chief Constable at Thames Valley police, therefore was responsible for any investigation, or not, into the abuse that took place at that college. And, of course, she refused consistently to investigate and we were asking on an issue of the UK Column, when we were printing the newspaper, we were asking: `Was there a conspiracy of silence or a common purpose at work here?` Because all the people involved from the local authority, from the school and the Chief Constable herself, were all involved or graduates of common purpose. So I can`t image why she would want to cover things up. But anyway as you mentioned, one of the other things she said, of course, was `We don`t want to be investigating hate incidents any more unless there`s a crime been committed, but if it`s an incident we don`t really want to be highlighting that or investigating that` ..."

"But this is all a bit strange, David, because apparently we`re going to be investigating the labour party over anti-semitic alleged hate."

David Scott. "It appears not all hate is equal..."

Mike Robinson: "Well let`s move on to education and you wanted to highlight the passing of John Taylor Gatto."

"Yes, I wanted just to highlight how important John Taylor Gatto has been and to briefly .... record his passing on the 25 October. He has been an inspiration to many of us. He`s spoken with great vigour and great insight about what exactly is wrong with the education system, the very fundamental harm that it does, and the depth of the problem and what can be done about it, and the joy and vigour that can be obtained from education that`s based on different principles. He`s written several books. `The Underground History of American Education` is an absolute goldmine of information on these matters. There`s one called `Dumbing Us Down` - probably about half a dozen books in all .... Anyone who`s interested in education at all, anyone who`s interested in how to think freely, and anyone who`s interested in how the state is modifying society, needs to read John Taylor Gatto. He was a great man and he`ll be sadly missed."

Mike Robinson: "So we have a quote here. Genius is `as common as dirt`. We suppress genius because we haven`t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves`...`"

"Yes, and this is what he put into practice. He won New York state and New York City, `Teacher of the Year`, He was working in a very poor school and ghetto in New York and with very poor and disadvantaged pupils and they were doing magnificently well. They were going to various universities and no-one could figure out how he did it. But what he was doing was he was engaging with the parents, working with them and the children and completely subverting the system. And so when he won the award he had to resign because the attention he got stopped him doing the subversive creative things that were actually working. So this is an extract of his resignation which was published in the.... Washington Post. It was titled `I quit, I think`."


"I just can`t do it anymore. I can`t train children to wait to be told what to do. I can`t train people to drop what they are doing when a bell sounds. I can`t persuade children to feel some justice in their class placement when there isn`t any, and I can`t persuade children to believe teachers have valuable secrets they can acquire by becoming our disciples. That isn`t true..."

GTC Scotland do not have a policy position on reading

 The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) held its second `Excellence in Professional Learning Awards` in September. It looks like they are here congratulating practitioners for `nurturing North Ayrshire`. It`s a pity they pay so much attention to how practitioners `nurture` and yet do not give much attention to how teachers are taught to instruct learners to read.  

Given the focus in Scotland on `adverse childhood experiences` (ACEs) one thing seems to be overlooked: a lifelong inability to read is one of the most devastating experiences a child could possible undergo; and yet, as the Clackmannanshire study has shown, is well within the grasp of primary teachers to do something about. Yet as the GTCS reveals there still remains a cavalier approach to the teaching of reading.
Here is an important tweet  from Anne Glennie, Scottish primary teacher and literacy consultant and trainer, who quotes:
"GTC Scotland would like to advise its readers that it does not hold a policy position on teaching children to read. We aim to publish a wide range of articles in `Teaching Scotland` offering different viewpoints. This is to inform our readers about current practice in education. Publication of a particular point of view does not mean that we endorse it."
There are several comments following the tweet:

"What is the point of the GTC in that case?"
"GTCS functions include: Setting the Professional standards expected of all teachers."
"Accrediting programmes leading to the award of GTCS Standards, including Initial Teacher Education programmes at Scottish universities."
"How can they hold teachers in Scotland to professional standards but not hold policy positions on the science behind reading?"
Debbie Hepplewhite Retweeted Anne Glennie
"This is utterly unaccountable - extraordinary - unforgivable. What have 'views' to do with the science of reading instruction? Such irony as the Clackmannanshire research is important - supported a move in England towards official systematic synthetic phonics."


The letter from Alison Taylor that prompted the GTC announcement that they do not have a policy position on teaching reading is here:

"Dear Editor, 
I was disturbed to see an article in Teaching Scotland no 75 about Reading Recovery. This `intervention` has been withdrawn in many English speaking countries because it does not tackle the core of the literacy problem, and yet here in Scotland we are promoting it."

"To Raise Attainment for All and Close the Gap, Scotland must improve the teaching of beginner readers, so it is essential to educate all our primary teachers in the science behind reading and evidence based methods to use. We are not taught the complexities of the English Alphabetic Code at university so can end up using a mixture of effective and ineffective approaches."

"About 21 months ago I was introduced by Anne Glennie `The Learning Zoo to teaching decoding through systematic synthetic phonics (SSP)` which is part of the Big Five for teaching literacy. This started my reading journey of the science behind reading. In the schools I work in, we now use evidence based methods to teach literacy, both universally and for PEP interventions. This has had a huge positive impact on developing the literacy skills of our pupils."

"In my experience many pupils are included in intervention groups (such as Reading Recovery) that encourage pupils to `guess` words using multi-cueing (use the picture, first sound or context clues - when what they really need is systematic and explicit teaching of the Alphabetic Code from simple to complex code. They then require practice, little and often, in decoding and encoding using the letters and sounds. Schools need decodable books as a resource to do this. Many schools teach phonics but do not have this vital resource to enable children to practise the letters and sounds they are learning. All beginner readers need to be taught the same skills and knowledge. Some children including those with `dyslexia` need lots of extra practice to retain their learning of sound to print."

"Many poor readers are relying on memorising words for decoding and have no other strategy to use when they come across new words. Teach them to decode using SSP and they have skills and knowledge that will stay with them forever. Get them to practise to mastery and we help all pupils. `Reading` is a life skill and we must not let the children in Scotland down. Let`s get it right from the start."

Last year`s ceremony:

Vulnerable children are being tricked by the transgender agenda

"An astonishing 17 pupils at a single British school are in the process of changing gender, The Mail on Sunday can reveal."

"Most of the youngsters undergoing the transformation are autistic, according to a teacher there, who said vulnerable children with mental health problems were being trickedinto believing they are the wrong sex."

"The whistleblower says few of the transgender children are suffering from gender dysphoria the medical term for someone who feels they were born in the wrong body but are just easily influenced, latching on to the mistaken belief they are the wrong sex as a way of coping with the problems caused by autism."

"Earlier this year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that a third of youngsters referred to the NHSs only gender identity clinic for children showed moderate to severe autistic traits..."
 "She was advised to keep parents and other teachers in the dark if a pupil claimed to be transgender..."

Judge Belcher arranges more delays for Melanie Shaw

Bad news for Melanie:

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Lady Smith and the altered transcript

 [UK Column 19 October 2018]

"Well let`s move on to Robert Green. And of course Robert Green was the man who stayed with the Hollie Greig abuse case where Hollie had been abused and clearly there was no justice coming forward. It took Robert Green to stick with the case to report the facts and ultimately to go to prison for his efforts in trying to protect children from child abuse. This has now reached an interesting stage because although many people probably think everything around Robert has died down, Robert has been campaigning for justice for himself as to what was and was not said in court."

 "And we`ll just pop her up on screen. Briefly, Judge Lady Smith is now north of the border supposedly running the Scottish inquiry into child abuse. What`s the link between this lady and Robert Green ?"

David Scott: "This is very interesting. Lady Smith picked up the reins of the Scottish independent child abuse inquiry... after everyone else led by the chief Susan O`Brien QC resigned, citing government interference and lack of independence. So lady Smith is now the sole director of this inquiry. She replaced the three people formally running it and is there personally directing how it proceeds. Lady Smith is the person who was asked to review Robert`s complaint that the Judge in this case, Sheriff Principal Edward Farquhar Bowen, had made racist comments during the sentencing...[hearing in 2012] These comments were entirely omitted from the transcript provided to Robert of the sentencing and comments. That transcript came from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service... She wouldn`t let Robert listen to the tape but she listened to the tape of the hearing and she assured Robert that there was nothing to be concerned about. It transpires that`s not true."

Brian Gerrish: "Right, so we can show a little bit of the documents here to show people how this trail works. 1`ve got to say up front that of course, at the moment, what was said and what wasn`t said in court is not in front of us as evidence, so what the sheriff did and didn`t say we are trying to track down... The important thing about this is how the system itself seems to be manoeuvring and obfuscating around the information."

"So the first document... is from the Crown Office in Scotland... Tell us about this document."

David Scott: "So this was given to Robert Green on his release from prison. He was complaining that the Sheriff had made racist comments during the sentencing and hearing, and that this showed bias, this being grounds for appeal. [The] document [is] on Crown Office notepaper and it`s as you see quite brief. We`ve actually covered this in detail in the Column many years ago because it`s quite strange as well. But even stranger is that we`ve now, after some considerable negotiation and exchange, found that the original tape is still held. It`s in the archives of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and after some discussion they agreed to provide initially a written transcript, a new written transcript, of the same comments. So when we see the new written transcript ... we find that it doesn`t match. "

Brian Gerrish: "[The] Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service has now come into it. Have I got the right one?"

David Scott: "That`s correct, yes. Now it doesn`t match. Now indeed it doesn`t match very closely at all. It`s sort of like the first one was a sort of paraphrase. The second one has clearly been transcribed directly from some sort of record, we don`t know exactly what, and lo and behold there`s an additional sentence in the new transcript that was entirely omitted from the original document - and what Robert has been saying for six years."

Brian Gerrish: "So we can bring this new sentence on screen. And what we`re saying here is that this has never been seen before. Suddenly, we`ve got this sentence which has now appeared in a second version of what is claimed to be the transcript."

David Scott: "It`s a very interesting sentence. So this was omitted from the accurate record that was provided by the Crown Office and was confirmed by Lady Smith. And the sentence says: `Let me tell you that we in Scotland are more than capable of identifying our own deficiencies without the assistance of someone with your background`. Now this is interesting on many levels. Not only was it omitted entirely from the initial record but it covers exactly the ground, or subject area, that Robert Green and the six or seven other witnesses in court that day all said was covered by the sentencing comment. It just does it in a way which is neutered. It calms it down; it reads like what the Sheriff maybe wishes he said. It doesn`t comply, tally closely, with what has been reported to me by numerous witnesses ... But it covers the same ground."

Brian Gerrish: "To emphasise this we`re going to show - we`ll bring it up on screen - what members of the public who were present at the hearing allege that the Sheriff said to Robert Green: `You are either stupid or misguided, probably both, to think that you, a Welsh-English man, can come up to Scotland to tell us how to run our justice system. I am telling you that WE run the justice system just fine.` So that`s what members of the public who were present allege was said."

"I`ll just jump back and show again what is now being said the transcript shows. `Let me tell you that we in Scotland are more than capable of identifying our own deficiencies without the assistance of someone with your background`... I was told shortly before we came on live for today`s news that in England it is normal procedure that although somebody is actually there taking down the transcript as the trial takes place, that transcript goes ultimately to the Judge to be - what`s the word - verified."

Mike Robinson: "Sanitised?"

Brian Gerrish. "Sanitised ! Before it is released to the public as the true version of events. I don`t know whether the same system works in Scotland but, of course, if it does this makes life very interesting indeed."

David Scott: "Well it`s an excellent question because we`ve been told by the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service that this transcript is verbatim, taken from the tape that was recorded in court. Now they`ve offered Robert the chance to listen to the tape. So far they`re refusing to give him a copy of the recording for forensic examination but they have offered to allow him to listen to it. So that`s going to happen..."

Brian Gerish: "OK, now you have written some letters on this subject. You thought that this one that you wrote some time ago to Lord Gill was of particular importance because you were coming back to the significance, the legal significance, of this event. We still don`t know what the true facts are but this is giving a flavour for it by having a look at the dangers of bias in court cases and you found this very powerful case precedent."

"Back in the 1980s, a Sheriff whilst relaxing at Ayr curling club, pronounced that the coal miners, then on strike, would not receive legal aid if they came into this court on breach of the peace charges. Some of the miners later appealed his decision, on quite different grounds, to refuse legal aid. The matter went to the Court of Session. The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Ross, concluded that the Sheriff had not brought his prejudice into the court and that his decisions had been correct in law but that this was not enough. `There must not be even the appearance of bias,` Lord Ross said. `There is nothing to suggest that at the trials the Sheriff acted unfairly. What the Sheriff failed to note was that the interests of justice required not merely that he should not display bias but that the circumstances should not be such as to create in the mind of a reasonable man the suspicion of the Sheriff`s partiality.` Lord Ross found for one of those appealing."

"The inescapable conclusion is that the statements by Sheriff Principal Bowen concerning Mr Green`s nationality failed to live up to the standard required by Scots Law and defined in the statement by Lord Ross. The logical implication is therefore that the court records were altered not for public relations reasons, or to save the Sheriff the embarrassment of an unguarded remark, but to avoid Mr Green having grounds for appeal; an appeal Mr Green could well have won given the previous stand made by the Court of Session on this subject."

David Scott: "Yes, this is a 2014 letter from me to the head of the judiciary in Scotland, the Lord President of the Court of Session. I write here pointing out that - now as I`ve said we`ve got six or seven separate witnesses, all of them reasonable men and women, who came away from that court convinced there were grounds to doubt the Sheriff`s impartiality. These people are on the record... Their records incidentally were offered to Lady Smith who refused to receive them."

Brian Gerrish: "OK we`ve got a slide here, effectively your summary of this, which I can read out...."

Brian Gerrish: "Really David, you are saying that if the public are not entitled to know what really took place in the court hearing and who said what, there is no justice north of the border and there is certainly no justice for Robert Green."

David Scott: "It must been seen to be done; it must be ... as the quote there from Lord Ross made absolutely clear; there must be not even a hint or suggestion in the mind of a reasonable observer the system is less than scrupulously fair. It seems that in Robert`s case we`re failing that by a country mile."

Gagging clause for company hired to test cladding

"The company hired to test flammable cladding on government-built buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire have been ‘gagged’ from criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May."

"Engineering firm WSP signed a UK government contract worth more than £100,000... carry out testing of cladding on buildings, 12 days after the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died. A prerequisite of the deal was WSP having to sign a gagging clause preventing the company from being able to create `adverse publicity` for or `embarrass` PM May and her Cabinet Office, the Times reports..."

"Former Housing Minister Barwell was accused of `sitting on` ... a review into building regulations at tower blocks after a deadly fire in south London in 2009 killed six people."

"The revelations have been met with a mixture of disbelief and outrage on social media from across the political spectrum. Labour MP David Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye died in the fire, said the gagging clause demonstrated `unforgivable cowardice` on the part of May. The Sun’s deputy political editor, Steve Hawkes, claimed it was an `awful look` for the UK government."  

`Parent Next` for risky parents

"Chia is one of 68,000 parents who have been placed on a new government program, Parents Next, after receiving a call from Centrelink assessing whether they are at risk of `long-term welfare dependency`..."

"Parents say they have been forced by their providers to attend activities such as `story time`, swimming lessons or playgroup, or told to sign up to education courses at their own expense, even if they already hold qualifications..."

"The government announced the expansion of the $263m program in the May budget following a two-year trial, during which 3,510 participants had their payments suspended."

"`It’s offensive that the government believes that … women aren’t trying to do what they can to increase the welfare of themselves and their child,` Terese Edwards, the chief executive of the National Council of Single Mothers, told Guardian Australia."

"Now that it was compulsory and women faced penalties for not complying, Edwards said it had gone `from a soft touch … to almost blaming women for undertaking unpaid care`."

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Green Fields of France

Sixth year pupils from Naas CBS Music Department are singing a version of `The Green Fields of France` to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War 1.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

The neglect of the learning disabled

Nothing changes.

Here`s Paul Kelso, health correspondent, Sky News:

"At least 40 people with a profound learning disability or autism have died while admitted to `barbaric` secure hospitals the government has promised to close since 2015, a Sky News investigation has found."

"The deceased, nine of whom were under-35 when they died, were being held as in-patients in assessment and treatment units (ATUs), controversial hospitals considered inappropriate for some of the most vulnerable people in society..."
"Figures show the total fell by 80 people in three years, from 2,395 in March 2015 to 2,315 in September this year, while the number of children has increased, from 110 in March 2015 to 230 in September."
"Latest figures show 60% of patients in ATUs have been admitted for more than two years and 16% for more than a decade."

"Figures released to Sky News under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that reported uses of restraint, categorised as including the use of medication, seclusion of patients, and physical restraint including face-down `prone restraint`, have soared in the last two years..."

"Sir Stephen Bubb says money should move from the NHS to the social care pot."

"`There are deaths of people in these institutions, some of them unexplained. We know there are significant problems and there will be at some stage another scandal, and yet we know what we need to do`."

"`The idea that in the 21st century you lock people up, you restrain them, you use prone restraint, you hold them down, I think is disgusting, it is barbaric and it is unacceptable, and it needs to be made unlawful`."

Contracts have gagging clauses

"The company hired to test flammable cladding on government-built buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire have been ‘gagged’ from criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May."

"Engineering firm WSP signed a UK government contract worth more than £100,000 (US$131,500) to carry out testing of cladding on buildings, 12 days after the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died. A prerequisite of the deal was WSP having to sign a gagging clause preventing the company from being able to create `adverse publicity` for or `embarrass` PM May and her Cabinet Office, the Times reports... "

"Former Housing Minister Barwell was accused of `sitting on` ... a review into building regulations at tower blocks after a deadly fire in south London in 2009 killed six people."

"The revelations have been met with a mixture of disbelief and outrage on social media from across the political spectrum. Labour MP David Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye died in the fire, said the gagging clause demonstrated `unforgivable cowardice`on the part of May. The Sun’s deputy political editor, Steve Hawkes, claimed it was an `awful look` for the UK government."