Friday, 21 October 2016

The Highland Investigation and Children`s Services

I`m placing this slide from the UK Column News [21 October 2016] out of context just in case people do not want to read any further:

There will be a meeting of the Highland Investigation at the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square, Academy Street, Inverness on Wednesday 24 October 2016 at 7pm.  Anybody who is interested in helping the investigation or who wants to find out more is welcome. David Scott will be attending.

"Right," Mike Robinson begins: "To lead into David`s stuff mainly we`re just going to highlight this little article from Demos here:
Commissioning in Children`s Services - What Works? So Demos the think tank, what are they saying? They`re saying:"

"Despite significant policy attention and political action, looked after children and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) remain some of the most vulnerable children in the country with their later life outcomes - social, educational and health related - remaining stubbornly poor. It is no coincidence that in Ofsted`s inspections of local authority children`s services departments from November 2015 to March 2016, three-quarters were given one of the two bottom ratings: `requires improvement` or `inadequate`. These failings have profound impacts on the lives of children and young people."

"Two sets of pressures are putting children`s services departments under considerable strain. First, demand for children`s social care is rising. Between 2008 and 2015, local authorities saw a 22 per cent rise in referrals and a 16 per cent increase in the number of children in care. - That statistic alone is spectacular Brian. - It is not only the volume of demand but the kind of demand that is exerting pressure: the needs of looked after children are becoming more complex, and the introduction of Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs), although a positive move forward, require local authorities to think more creatively about how they will meet the needs of children with SEND."

"Of course, part of the problem there is that demand particularly for children with special educational needs is being driven by the fact that extra benefits are given and there`s pressure on parents to actually register their children as requiring special educational needs. And second they say local authorities are facing continued and severe cuts to their budgets. And so what do they go on to talk about ? They basically go on to talk about the privatisation of care in children`s services. And this is particularly dangerous of course because once that type of thing ends up in private hands we get even less oversight..."

Brian Gerrish joins in: "Well, of course, at the moment some of the most vulnerable children with multiple special needs are being looked after by private companies [because they] can be earning 230, 40, 50, 60 thousand pounds a year per child. So this is big money business." David Scott is asked what he thinks about that.

"Well all these things - when you`re dealing with a government that has coercive powers of taxation - so they`re taking money essentially at the pointy end of a bayonet and then that`s being distributed, not controlled in any way by the people for their collective benefit, but being siphoned off to well connected private interests. You have really the worst of both worlds. You have all the drive of the private sector but rather than being a drive towards satisfying customers, the customers, in fact, become a commodity and their only drive is to satisfy politicians. [It] is an invitation to corruption on a vast scale."

"Now let`s start here with the Inverness Courier. Now this is going back a few years, 2011. Janitor charged with showing indecent images to pupils. Now this is an introduction to the Highland Investigation and you had a number of articles here on this particular school. School janitor is placed on sex offenders` register - the fact that children were being shown indecent cartoons and this one from the Highland News saying: Bullied girl (9) tries to strangle herself with ties."

"This is one of the first areas we have been looking at in the Highland Investigation," explains David Scott. "And we`re putting this up here today just as an indication of the sort of information we`re seeing. We`ve got a huge amount of information coming forward and we hope to have more when we meet folk next week ... in Inverness..."

"Now Ardesier is a very interesting case: one small primary school and one example. The janitor, Mr Thomas Brown, he was the janitor at more than one school. He had been showing indecent images to children in Ardesier primary school playground but it was [after] his conduct at another primary school that he was [then] charged and convicted and put on the sex offenders` register. Now the parents at Ardesier found there was no investigation or even acknowledgement publicly for what he was doing in Ardesier primary. The whole thing seemed to be hushed up. So one of the themes we`re seeing at Highland is that problems, embarrassing incidents etc, rather than having the disinfectant of sunlight, are concealed and hushed up and there is no proper investigation."

David Scott says that the reason the Highland Investigation is going back a few years is because it takes in the period 2006 to 2009 which was the time of the trial of the Named Person scheme and the GIRFEC approach. He states: "So what was happening in Highland then is being rolled out across the whole of Scotland now."

"Now the second case you mentioned there which was also at the same primary... the girl there was being very badly bullied."


"But the incident left several pupils at Ardersier Primary School traumatised, according to her mum, and Brooke has now been offered a place eight miles away at Croy Primary. But the family is still angry at education bosses who are now refusing to meet transport costs to her new school. Her mum Pauline MacGregor (36) told the Highland News: `The bullying had gone on for months and nothing was done about it despite us reporting it to the head teacher. We moved to the area in 2007 and Brooke was enrolled at Ardersier Primary. The bullying didn't start until March or April that year. It was incessant. One boy was the ring leader, but she has been targeted by both boys and girls in the class`..."

"The final straw for the family came two days before Brooke's ninth birthday when they say the youngster tried to kill herself in front of her classmates. When single mum Ms MacGregor went to school to collect her daughter, she said Brooke's teacher met her in the playground. `She was very upset. She was in tears when she told me what had happened. She said there had been an incident and explained Brooke had put a tie round her neck and was trying to choke herself.` Other pupils were standing around chanting `Go Brooke, go` and that's what alerted the teachers. `We were told her lips were blue and her teacher got a terrible shock. I just felt sick. You hear about young teenagers being driven to suicide by bullying but Brooke is only nine.`"

"Brooke's grandfather John Masson (63) said his granddaughter had no problems at her previous school before moving to Ardersier for family reasons. `We have letters from her previous head teacher describing her as a bright and happy child. But that changed since she came to Ardersier. She has some friends but now she is afraid to leave the house. We kept her off school for a few days after she tried to choke herself and the school gave her a support worker. But Brooke told us all she was asked was about her home life. She never got asked about the bullying`..."

"Education chiefs claim one of the boys accused of bullying Brooke has been excluded from the school, but Mr Masson insists that boy was not responsible for the bullying... The family have now been told a place has been found for Brooke at Croy Primary but because it is at their request they are responsible financially for her transport arrangements. Ms MacGregor is on benefits and is a carer for her father who has health problems. `We can't afford to get taxis to take her to school,` said Mr Masson. `The authorities seem to forget she is the victim here yet the boy who has caused this nightmare is still in school.` A Highland Council spokesperson said: `We cannot comment on any individual pupil's circumstances`..."


David Scott does not actually read out the emboldened section but I think it is highly relevant since the Named Person pilot was on the go at the time. It looks more like the authorities were trying to find something `on` the family rather than dealing with the bullying.

Brian Gerrish is asked by David Scott if he would be interested to hear what Her Majesty`s Inspector of Schools had to say about the school just a few months after that incident.

"Well, of course, I would be extremely interested. I may suspect I know what`s coming."

"Well here we go: Now bear in mind the scene that`s just been painted there. This is what HMIE after a thorough examination of the school said: `Children behave well in and around the school. Most are confident the school will deal effectively with any incidents of bullying. Children feel safe and valued in school and know what to do if they have any concerns. Staff have a very positive relationship with children. They`re committed to the wellbeing and support of all children and have appropriate awareness of child protection issues`. So that gives you an idea about how much you can rely upon the government, upon the state, regulating itself. This is of course garbage."

Brian Gerrish agrees: "It`s a pattern we see across the country, wherever you go. If you try to expose there`s a failing within a public body, all that happens is there`s a closing of ranks and they defend themselves."

"There`s more to come on the story of that little girl but we`ll keep that for following weeks; but actually it gets worse, the way the family was treated subsequently by the Highland Council; it gets worse."

"Well the Scottish National Party seems to be having a problem with what? What are we talking about here? - references to the holocaust?"

"Well possibly the worst judged political stunt in the history of political stunts," David Scott thinks. "And this is the very famous Brain family. You will appreciate that we all know that the Scottish government will not get involved in individual cases, except of course when they do, and they`ve got hugely involved in this case. It`s obviously been in their political interests to do so. The Brain family faced deportation having contravened the requirements of their visa. The Home Office in London it would seem was actually being quite lenient with them and trying to find a compromise but this was seized on by the Scottish National Party, made into a political issue."

"And in came Mr Brain to the Scottish National Party conference. Now bear in mind Nicola Sturgeon doesn`t get involved in individual cases. Here he is on the stage at the Scottish National Party conference and he`s wearing a little badge... memories of the holocaust. It`s yellow and it`s a diamond in this case with the letter `F` on it which he explains stands for foreigner... So it`s not subtle but I`m sure you see what they`re trying to do in terms of painting the British state as evil and themselves as good..."

"Here you have a family actually being fairly well treated over a fairly minor dispute over a visa and that`s the metaphor you go to. It`s crass; it`s embarrassing and it cheapens the political language and it coarsens the political language as well because everyone goes running around calling everyone else a Nazi and all of a sudden you don`t have any sort of exchange of ideas or examination of the facts... Mental activity closes down and it becomes simply a matter of abuse and grandstanding, which this was."

The Docherty family

"Now these points David I think we consider them in relation to the failure of the Scottish state to do anything to protect the Docherty family. As far as I know there`s no communications with the family. Can you give us a sort of update and also say what if anything Nippy Sturgeon has been doing to help the Dochertys."

"She`s done nothing to help the Dochertys. She may have been doing quite a lot to harm the Dochertys; we`re not quite sure because obviously it`s all secret; but certainly nothing to help. Now we haven`t heard from the Dochertys for three weeks. We`re getting very concerned about their safety; whether they are... ok and breathing the free air of Ireland, or not. We don`t know."

"It illustrates ... here you had a family who`ve had their four children violently seized... without any lawful excuse by a foreign state; Nicola Sturgeon does nothing. We have one family who has a minor dispute over a visa application and Nicola Sturgeon puts them on the stage at the party conference. She takes part... She leads a standing ovation as they walk on to the stage... "

"Can you imagine the impact which she could have had in the Docherty case? With that degree of power, with that degree of media attention, with that degree of focus on her; she could have stopped the Docherty case right now. She could have sorted it because if she had brought Brian and Janice Docherty on to the stage in that way, what would have happened? I tell you this, their kids would have been back very quickly... It`s almost certainly the case that the mere threat of doing that would have seen all of the government agencies involved resolve this situation."

"But she will not move; she will not act. She will not act in order to make sure that entities charged with behaving in a lawful manner are doing their job; and that`s the very excuse she`s given for acting in individual cases in the past."

No comments:

Post a Comment