Saturday, 31 May 2014

Action against new Holyrood law

Aidan O’Neill QC will put forward the case against the appointment of a named guardian for every child, on behalf of the Christian Institute (CI).
MSPs approved legislation in February which will mean everyone up to the age of 18 will have a ‘’named person’ - such as a health worker or headteacher - assigned to look out for their welfare...
He has prepared a legal opinion on the case against the named person legislation, arguing that the Scottish Government may have acted outwith its powers and breached the European Convention on Human Rights.
A spokesman for the CI said a notice of intent to take action has been sent to the Government, while the papers are expected to be lodged at the end of June...
"This new Holyrood law will give almost boundless powers to a state which is driven to control every aspect of people’s private lives despite the fact that Europe places family life above the interests of the state.
"We are delighted that Mr O’Neill has agreed to act on our behalf and we are optimistic about the outcome."

see also: CI publication

Comments about the named person

"CONTROVERSIAL plans to create a state-appointed "guardian" for all children across Scotland were passed at Holyrood ... "

"The change is also aimed at helping to spot health and emotional problems in the country’s children and provide better support for families."

"It means health visitors, midwives or school teachers will now take on the role of a "Named Person", with a duty of support for every youngster up to the age of 18 across Scotland..."

"`Children aren’t born with an ‘at risk’ sign on their heads – we have to have a system that does its very best not to allow children to slip through the gaps,` children’s minister Aileen Campbell said.

 Aileen Campbell and Michael Russell

Some Comments

"This is a gross and sinister infringement of family life and probably illegal and likely to pitch the "State guardian" against the parents if the former believes the latter's parenting does not conform to State regulations (Big Brother style) - a snoopers charter."
"Children arent born with an 'at risk' sign" - Really? Why do SW take some away at birth then?"
"Surely it is not just one "named person" per child. First it will be a midwife, then a health visitor, then a GP, then a teacher at each school the child attends. So we will then have to have hand over sessions as each threshold is passed, and that is assuming that the aforementioned "named person" does not move jobs, get promoted, have a career break, get laid off (unlikely, this, I grant you.) So the child has no continuity of care, which is one of the tenets of this ludicrous piece of legislation. Also, what happens if the parents of the child get a job elsewhere in the country, or even abroad (and I mean not just Carlisle) Will we, the taxpayer have to fund regular visits from the named person to Hong Kong or the US or wherever? Alternatively, perhaps we will no longer be allowed to further our career abroad without the consent of the named person?"
"In the event of something serious happening to a child, will the parent or the named person be held accountable/responsible?"
"'Named persons' will be employees of authorities with child protection respnsibilities. As employees, named persons will not be able to complain or blow the whistle about poor child protection practices by bodies such as local authorities."

"The SPSO confirms that the only persons in Scotland with any legal right to complain about inadequate or dangerous practices within a child protection service are:
The Child
The Parents/Carers"

"Should the practices of a child protection service eg a local authority expose a child to further risk from neglect or harm, there is no complaints or whistleblowing process that an employee/'named person' is eligible to access."

"Local authorities can legally ignore any complaints that an employee (named person) make to them about its own dangerous child protection practices. The SPSO and SCSWIS have no remit to investigate any complaint about child protection failures other than those made by children, parents & carers."

"'Named persons' will be in the same situation as current child protection staff - silenced about poor prctices within local government departments. They will of course have freedom to make as many complaints as they like about how private citizens are failing to protect & care for their children."

"The Minister referred to the case of Daniel Pelka. The poor practices by the local authority and other agencies who could & should have protected Daniel have been widely reported."

"A 'named person' who becomes aware that a child (like Daniel) who is at risk because child protection agencies are not taking appropriate action will have no means to complain about that situation. The Bill has failed to establish any legal 'right' for a 'named person' (an employee) to complain about failures to provide statutory child protection services."

"Therefore, children in Scotland will continue to be at risk from poor child protection practices by the bodies with remit to protect them."

"Health Minister Alex Neil has stated"

"People who see anything in the NHS going wrong or some practice applied that should not be, I want them to blow the whistle."

"It appears that the Scottish Government is preventing people who see anything 'going wrong or some practice applied that should not be' within a child protection agency from blowing the whistle."

"Practice failures by local authorities etc will continue to be covered up while an army of 'named persons' will now have the freedom to complain about private families."
Is "Children 1st" a charity or a "charity"?
It it a charity: a non-political entity staffed and run by volunteers out of the goodness of their heart out of caritas - love - and funded by monies raised freely by voluntary donations?
Or is it a "charity": a taxpayer funded sockpuppet organisation whose primary purpose is political activism and lobbying intended to vindicate the political decisions made by civil servants?
"I am so dumbfounded by this that I am not quite sure where to start.
1. Either this is going to cost the earth, in terms of time, paperwork, case reviews, or it is going to be a rubber stamping exercise - still expensive, but at least it will be less intrusive
2. I know that I have no say over the appointment of my child's guardian, but I assume that he / she / it will have first hand experience of raising children.
3. What happens if my child actively dislikes their appointed angel? Will the State assume that I have poisoned my child's mind?
4. Will the guardian be required to provide political guidance to my child?
5. The State must have the worst track record of child rearing of anybody - kicking children out of the home aged 16!. would it not be better if they sorted their own house, before taking on this insane project?
6. Oh and then there are the commentators. According to the CEO of Children 1st "The law now gives them rights to call on professionals when they need advice, information and support" What planet is this woman on? I did not realise that hitherto I did not have the RIGHT to speak to my child's GP, or Health Visitor, or Teacher?
Last one out, please switch off the windmill.
We have seen examples of the work of the RSPCC, now renamed Children 1st. Prior to being renamed Children 1st the RSPCC was a main player in the forcible removal of children from their homes and attempts to have them confirm entirely fictitious events made up by social workers. This was the Orkney Scandal. These are, I think, facts established by a Public Enquiry conducted by Lord Clyde.The change of name took place after the Enquiry.

Friday, 30 May 2014

11 year old boy at Liberal club

"A man told yesterday how he was molested as an 11-year-old by Cyril Smith in a bedroom at the National Liberal Club."

"The paedophile MP took the schoolboy from his Rochdale constituency to London and introduced him to Liberal Party leader David Steel at Westminster."

"Hours later, 29 stone Smith sexually assaulted the boy at the club which housed the party’s headquarters."

"Simon Danczuk, the MP who helped expose the serial abuser, said the Lib Dems can no longer resist the call for an inquiry into the scandal. He said the latest shocking revelations took it right to the heart of the Liberal Party and proved Smith was abusing boys ‘right under their noses’."

"The schoolboy’s sordid encounter with Smith took place in 1978 after his mother spotted a story in the Rochdale Observer newspaper. It said the MP had been invited to nominate a Rochdale boy from a one-parent family for a free place at public school."

A fair start for every child

Save the Children in their report `A fair start for every child` addresses child poverty in the UK:
The report from Save the Children reveals youngsters have paid the highest price in the recession, with families being hit by a triple whammy of years of flat wages, cuts to benefits and the rising cost of living.
They have also felt the pinch with food prices increasing by 19% more than the general price level of other goods between 2007 and 2011.Soaring childcare costs have seen the price of nursery places for children under two rise by 77% in 10 years since 2003.
Despite a cross-party commitment to end child poverty by 2020, new projections show the numbers living in poverty could increase by 1.4 million in the same period - a rise of 41% on the 3.5 million children currently living in poverty, claims the report A Fair Start For Every Child.
Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth said: "We're increasingly worried that unless there is a dramatic change of course, we're at risk of writing off the future of millions of British children, giving them an unfair start in life.

The issue is covered by the Child Poverty Action group in Scotland.
One in five of Scotland’s children are officially recognised as living in poverty. In some areas over one in three children grow up in poverty. With Scotland’s undoubted wealth CPAG believes this is a scandal. There is no reason why our child poverty rates should be so much higher than in many other European countries. In Denmark and Norway less than 10% of children live in poverty, whilst Germany has a poverty rate of 15%. Poverty remains one of the most serious problems facing children today. Its’ effects last a lifetime, negatively impacting on health, education, social and physical development and seriously harming future life chances and opportunities.
They have the following to say about the causes of child poverty:

Individual behaviour is found to be of limited value in explaining the extent of poverty in Scotland. Neither can poverty be reduced to the status of a straightforward economic outcome – even when Scotland’s economy grows poverty remains widespread. In fact a combination of social, political and economic factors and choices drive the nature and extent of poverty. The key drivers of poverty are inequality, low pay, inadequate benefits, poor quality work opportunities and lack of support for those with caring responsibilities, ill health or effected by disability.
Let us hope that the `early interventionists` modify their view and recognise that poverty has multiple causes.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Reading Is Easy. (You have to work to make kids illiterate.)

Mona McNee discusses the `reading wars` between phonics and LOOK and SAY which illustrates the damage that can be done when the experts get it wrong. See her website below:

Mass grave for babies

"According to a report in the Irish Mail on Sunday, a mass grave has been located beside a former home for unmarried mothers and babies in County Galway. The grave is believed to contain the bodies of up to eight hundred babies, buried on the former grounds of the institution known locally as "The Home" in Tuam, north of Galway city, between 1925 and 1961."

"Run by the Bon Secours nuns, "The Home" housed thousands of unmarried mothers and their "illegitimate" children over those years."

"According to Irish Mail on Sunday the causes of death listed for "as many as 796 children" included "malnutrition, measles, convulsions, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and pneumonia."

"The babies were usually buried without a coffin in a plot that had once housed "a water tank," the report claims. No memorials were erected, the site was left unmarked and unmourned."

"The staggering mortality rate of "The Home" was apparently replicated elsewhere in Ireland."

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Police have investigated sexual activity of children

Two five-year-old boys have been investigated by police over alleged rapes of other children. The boys were contacted by officers in Thames Valley Police last year following reports of sexual assaults on the other youngsters. But no action could be taken against them as they are deemed too young to know right from wrong, and the suspected rapes were not added to crime figures.
In total 235 children were identified as suspects in sexual assaults between 2011 and 2013 The alleged sex attacks emerged in official figures uncovered by The Mail on Sunday. The shocking statistics also reveal that a six-year-old girl has also been reported to police over suspected sex offences, as have boys aged just four.
Police have investigated more than 200 reports of sexual activity and assault by children under ten years old in recent years. Last night experts warned that some of the young offenders may have been acting out obscene material they had seen on the internet at home or on mobile phones in the school playground. A five-year-old boy was suspected of possessing pornographic images, the figures show.
‘Exposure to extreme, sometimes sexually violent and degrading material is now only a few clicks away,’ says Jon Brown of the NSPCC. .

Whatever the true scale of the problem, it is peculiar that Jon Brown of the NSPCC failed to mention that the United Nations have recommended  early sex education in schools which many schools have put in place. After all, the idea that children are being exposed to pornographic material at home or in the playground is merely speculation, whereas early sex education taking place in primary schools is a fact. Why does the NSPCC imply that children are not safe in their families at every opportunity?
The United Nations is recommending that children as young as five receive mandatory sexual education that would teach even pre-kindergarteners about masturbation and topics like gender violence.
The U.N.'s Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a 98-page report in June offering a universal lesson plan for kids ranging in age from 5-18, an "informed approach to effective sex, relationships" and HIV education that they say is essential for "all young people."
The U.N. insists the program is "age appropriate," but critics say it's exposing kids to sex far too early, and offers up abstract ideas — like "transphobia" — they might not even understand.
A sex education booklet targeted at six-year-olds in primary schools has angered parents' groups who claim it will rob children of their innocence.
The publication compiled by the former Family Planning Association, now called the fpa, is called 'Let's Grow with Nisha and Joe' includes pictures of a naked girl and boy and asks readers to label their private parts.
An initial print run has produced 50,000 copies and it is now being promoted to schools across the UK. The fpa has described the 12-page comic as a "gentle introduction" to the facts of life. But parents' groups said the information it contained was "too much, too young".

Bill Gates and Common Core

"Gates remains chairman of Microsoft but now devotes the bulk of his time to running The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the largest private foundation in the world and easily the most powerful. "
"Under US law, investments in charitable foundations are tax-free; moreover, investors are not required to sell their stock positions and may continue to vote their shares without restriction.. "
"The Gates Foundation exercises power not only via its own spending, but more broadly through an elaborate network of "partner organizations" including non-profits, government agencies, and private corporations. As the third largest donor to the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), it is a dominant player in the formation of global health policy. "  
"Common Core calls for unprecedented monitoring, collection, and sharing of private student and family information...attendance, test scores, learning disabilities, and family information to be recorded and shared with other agencies. This information will be available not only to the government, but also to researchers and private companies. The Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation funded and developed the CC database system and recently turned it over to a nonprofit corporation called inBloom, established for the purpose of controlling the information. There are security risks involved in the collection and storage of students’ data. "
"Parents and legislators were neither informed nor did they give permission for Common Core to allow private data about children to be collected and shared. "
"At a time when many states and school districts are struggling to stay afloat financially, Common Core demands that current textbooks be replaced with those aligned with the new standards, that teachers be retrained to teach in alignment with CC standards and CC standardized tests, and that schools fund technological updates necessary for every student to complete computerized testing, including purchasing additional computers and increasing broadband capacity.  "
"It doesn’t go unnoticed by Common Core critics that Bill Gates, who makes computers, Sir Michael Barber’s Pearson PLC, the multinational publishing and education conglomerate, and other education industry giants who are champions of Common Core will profit handsomely from its implementation."

Abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre

"Detectives who are investigating child sex abuse claims spoke of their shock after more than 500 potential victims were identified. The huge scale of the allegations suggests an organised paedophile ring was operating in the 1970s and 1980s at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett, County Durham."

"Police announced in August they were starting a fresh investigation into abuse at the centre for young offenders, who were mostly convicted of minor crimes."

"In 2003 a previous police investigation led to the conviction of Neville Husband, a prison officer at Medomsley. Husband was sent to jail for eight years after being found guilty of abusing five youngsters The publicity surrounding the trial then led to others coming forward and Husband was subsequently jailed for a further two years for these attacks. After being released from prison he died from natural causes in 2010."

"Now Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, leading a 70-strong team, said: "We always knew this would be a major inquiry but the scale of it, and the sheer number of victims who have come forward, has been a shock."

"Husband, who went on to become a church minister, was in charge of the kitchens at Medomsley and would single out youths for sexual abuse, particularly those who had been in care and did not have strong family ties."

"His former colleague, Leslie Johnson, a storeman, was jailed for six years in 2005 for sexual offences. He has also since died."

No more holidays in term time

"Michael Gove's decision to crack down on parents taking children on holiday in term time is being challenged in the courts by a group of parents. The action to take the Education Secretary's ruling to judicial review is being backed by a petition signed by more than 200,000 parents. The group claims the rules are a breach of their human right to a family life."

"Parents Want A Say is being launched today and co-ordinated by Karen Wilkinson, a mother-of-three from Bath in Somerset, reports the Sunday Times. 'Requests to take children out of school for weddings, to visit elderly grandparents who live abroad or even in some cases, when doctors have sanctioned the request because it's in the child's interest, are all being turned down,' she said."

"This weekend it emerged that a ten-year-old girl from Tamworth was denied a day off for her grandfather's funeral."

"Mr Gove's changes brought in last year end the right for schools to grant up to 10 days holiday per year in special circumstances. Parents face fine of £60 per pupil per parent if they take children out of school without permission and those who refuse to pay could be fined £2,500 by the courts and even jailed for up to three months."

"More than 24,000 children are skipping school every day to go on family holidays as parents ignore the threat of fines to escape peak-time price hikes."

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Zero to three

If anybody believes that the Scottish government, through its wisdom and noble aspirations, ran with the early interventions and GIRFEC approach because it had worked hard with its supporters to address a need that was brought to its attention; then consulted widely about it; then evaluated it; then endorsed it; and now has a world class child protection proposal that other nations can emulate, think again. That is the way it is supposed to work, and that is the way the Scottish government presents itself, but it is not true. As it happens governments have long stopped working with their citizens, if they ever did.

Check out Zero to Three from the other side of the Atlantic who spin it the same way as the Scottish government does. Any claims the Scottish government makes about being at the forefront of developments, in any way, are a distortion of reality.

The agenda the Scottish government is following is global.

Is anxiety over data sharing getting in the way of successful early interventions?

Phil Neal, Managing Director at Capita One Children`s Services, argues for improved data sharing practices:
Some children’s services staff I have spoken to reveal that nervousness exists over when it is ‘right’ to share data and how it can be used to inform better decision making in the delivery of early help.
The challenge for any organisation committed to supporting local authorities in driving the early help agenda forward is to break down the barriers to success. This will bring many benefits for children, families and the public purse in the future.
It is vital that important information on children and families flows easily between teams. Advances in technology are helping to ensure that this becomes a simpler task in the years ahead. The Information Commissioner’s Office also offers a wealth of guidance on how and when to share data, where it is appropriate to do so.
The launch of the Early Intervention Foundation one year ago has seen initiatives being implemented across the UK that are successfully cutting crime and boosting attendance and school achievement.
To continue the great work already being done, data must provide the firm foundation needed to ensure decisions are more informed and children and families get the help they need sooner. Only then can the most vulnerable in society reap the considerable rewards of this new approach.

Phil Neal is beginning to sound like the Scottish Government and their GIRFEC approach who have lowered the threshold for early interventions and have no qualms about breaching confidentiality by sharing data. For example:
Perth and Kinross CPC has produced this Toolkit in collaboration with the Perth and Kinross Getting it Right for Every Child Implementation Group; the Scottish Government's Getting it Right For Every Child Policy Team; and with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO): Scotland.
Remember, nothing whatsoever, in Scottish, UK and/or European Law and/or in the Scottish child protection legislative, policy and/or practice environments prevents you from sharing information where you are worried or concerned about a child or young person's wellbeing. On the contrary, you are, within certain limitations and constraints, empowered to do so.
Now we learn that "OUTSOURCING giant Capita yesterday signed a major contract to link up all the public sector computers in Scotland. The Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) contract will see Capita ensure that hospitals, schools, GP surgeries and council offices are all linked to the same computer network. The scheme is worth £325m for a period of nine years, or £36m in revenue a year."

So when Capita spins the doctrine of early interventions and data sharing do they have these kind of contracts in mind?

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy?

This article appeared in the Guardian:

"Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial," wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. "The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop."

"With conferences such as Two Is Too Late (organised by Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom) and papers such as The 1,001 Critical Days, a set of claims are made that echo and reinforce those bold claims made by Allen: first, that we now have a set of scientific findings about the infant brain that can teach us new things about parenting. Second, that concrete events occur – from the production of synapses to the lighting up of areas of the brain on an MRI scanner – that can be interpreted in a straightforward way upon which all science is agreed. Third, with terms such as "critical periods" and "hardwiring", the thesis is put forward that brains have a finite time window for learning certain things. Fourth, that we can distil the treatment of infants into a set of behaviours that will determine the networks in their brains, either equipping them to empathise, learn, engage and produce, or irreparably failing to equip them. The connections made are endless: babies who fail to make the right neural connections will do badly at school, lack empathy, succumb to criminality, have mental health problems, and end up in a cycle of deprivation themselves."

"The child protection changes are the most extreme end of the policy shaped by neurosciences, but it's visible across all early-years policy; it can justify the removal of children who have been exposed to domestic violence or even children who may be hypothetically exposed, the mother having been abused before. It's the foundation of the Family Nurse Partnership scheme, the state intervention at week 16 into a pregnancy that has been deemed "vulnerable". It's one of the reasons given for the CanParent pilot, free parenting classes offered as a trial in five boroughs (though likely to be abandoned after only 4% of new parents took them up). A major proponent of parenting "training" is the Sutton Trust, which recently produced its own estimate that 40% of children lack "secure attachments".

 much-used image purporting to show the affect of neglect on children's brain development

"Val Gillies, a researcher in social policy at South Bank University, takes the scans head-on. "That illustration of the walnut brain is from a paper by Bruce Perry. There are no details given of the case histories of those kids. We don't know what 'normal' was. We don't know what 'extreme neglect' was. We don't even have a scale on that image. It's had the most powerful impact, but I've never seen another image like that. When people say, 'I've seen a brain scan showing what neglect does to the brain', that's the image they're talking about."

 "Immediately, there are a few things wrong with this: with no details on the case study, except for the fact that "extreme neglect" meant life in a Romanian orphanage, we could be dealing with anything, from the effects of malnutrition to a disability. But even without the drama of the image, the use of these extreme populations is misleading."

"Aside from the dodgy science, if you look at who's pushing this stuff, it's wealthy philanthropists, Heinz, Carnegie Foundation, with the same notion, that the ills of society are located in the lower orders."

Eco drama for sustainable development

Eco Drama, a touring children's theatre company based in Glasgow, have set itself a challenge. That is, to address the creative ways in which we can engage children and young people in ecological and environmentally sustainable practices.
It has never been so pressing for all of us to develop lifestyles and behaviours that are sustainable for the future of our planet. Eco Drama, a team of passionate drama educationalists, believes that creativity is essential in facilitating this development.
The company's educational approach is to engage with young people through quality drama and theatre experiences, ensuring they are engaged with concerns of climate change and sustainable practice not only intellectually but emotionally also. [Emotionally?]
Eco Drama was set up in 2008 as a response to the sustainability issues currently facing our world, and to address the need for a more interactive, creative method to reach young people on these issues. The company's ultimate aim is to engage and inspire more sustainable behaviours and a greater awareness and sense of responsibility towards our natural world.
To date, the team have reached over 200 schools and 14,000 young people all over Scotland, delivering environmental themed drama workshops and theatre shows. Touring in the Magic Van, a vehicle run on recycled vegetable oil, Eco Drama hope they will be seen as positive green role models themselves, with the belief that if young people see adults modelling positive sustainable lifestyle behaviours, they will be further encouraged to do so themselves.
Eco Drama firmly believes that drama is one of the most effective teaching and learning tools, as it places children inside the learning context; they become involved, active participants in the learning process.
The Curriculum for Excellence sets a challenge to educators: engage with creative teaching methods and, make a difference. Drama has the unique ability to connect with different learning styles, reach greater audiences and encourage active learning; so it seems there has never been a more exciting time to engage with drama in education.
Bob Jickling in the Trumpeter argues against education for sustainable development.

"It seems thus far that many educators implicitly or explicitly assume that their task, teaching sustainable development, involves the advancement of a particular agenda."

Because sustainable development encapsulates a plethora of contradictory and contested ideas, education should instead enable  students to critically evaluate the concept and draw their own conclusions.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Criticising Curriculum for Excellence

"There’s a flurry of debate in Scottish education over standards. The suggestion is that they are being dumbed down. The surprise is that the debate’s catalyst was a letter to the press from a school student."

"Teachers have been cautious about openly criticising Curriculum for Excellence (CfE): no wonder, given the resolutely positive spin being put on CfE by both the Scottish government and local authorities."

"One depute head, a former maths teacher, explained to me: "I loved the ideas behind CfE, the inter-disciplinary learning, the greater depth of learning, not having to teach to the test, cooperative learning, but when it boils down to it, I’m just teaching the same maths I have taught since O Grade."

"I’m teaching it a little differently and, I hope, a little more interestingly – the students are more active learners – but I cannot see why we needed a new exam system. We could easily have tweaked the old exams and not gone to all this trouble."

"A former local authority maths advisor agrees about CfE’s strengths but also worries about lack of rigour in assessment."

"The issue of standards in maths returned last year when the Scottish Qualification Authority’s former maths principal examiner stated that that year’s Higher exam was the easiest ever. The problem, however, far surpasses maths."

"One experienced social subjects curriculum leader explained her experience: "I’m absolutely sure that what we ask pupils to do under exam conditions has become easier and easier and this process started long before CfE was introduced."

"Walter Humes, visiting professor of education at Stirling University, echoes the concerns over "political" considerations."

"It is high time that the complacent rhetoric of Scottish education ("partnership", "consultation", "consensus", etc) was exposed for the sham it is. For too long the teachers who have got on in the system have been deferential and conformist: we need challenging thinkers who ask hard questions."

"It may be that the greater contemporary emphasis on skills and lesser emphasis on knowledge have yet to become established, although even here there is a debate: how can higher order skills be developed if core knowledge is abandoned?"

In a Holyrood article, Professor Lindsay Paterson has criticised Curriculum for Excellence. “The problem is the whole drift of thinking since Curriculum for Excellence has been away from rigour,” Professor Lindsay believes ... "Those traditional hierarchies of knowledge endured as part of the Scottish education system far longer than they did in the rest of the UK, or indeed the rest of the world, which began experimenting with curricular reform as early as the 1960s. “A lot of the movement towards comprehensive education was associated in many parts of the world with an attack on what were perceived to be structures of knowledge which were themselves partly responsible for inequalities in aspiration,” says Paterson. “It was claimed repeatedly that certain structures of knowledge that had been commonly taught in high status institutions, like selective schools and universities, were intrinsically alienating to working-class people, or to people from different cultural and religious backgrounds, and even sometimes to girls compared with boys.”

"However, that line of thinking didn’t carry any weight in Scotland – until now. “Curriculum for Excellence is sceptical about the allegedly traditional structures of knowledge. It’s sceptical about the subject boundaries, it’s sceptical about the distinction between theoretical and applied knowledge, its sceptical about the concept of deferred gratification – children should be able to enjoy and be enthusiastic about every aspect of their schooling, there’s not much at all in the documentation about any aspect of education being boring or tedious. It’s all about children enjoying it, engaging with it, and seeing it as immediately relevant in their lives.”

"People... argued that the purpose of democratising education was to widen access to the most hierarchical structures of knowledge, not to change the structures of knowledge, but to give the people that were excluded from them access to them.” Curriculum for Excellence, meanwhile, “is doing what the most radical curricular reformers were trying to do in say London in the 1960s and 1970s in the move to democratise knowledge.” He adds: “The Curriculum for Excellence is really 1960s radicalism, modernised in a way that never happened in Scotland. It’s as if Scotland discovered the 1960s 50 years later.”

"If that sounds like Paterson is damning CfE with faint praise, it’s because he has several difficulties with the new curriculum. “My discomfort with it is that research tends to confirm that point that insofar as knowledge is a form of empowerment, then the way to empower people who are not powerful is actually to give them access to the highest status knowledge in that hierarchy,” Paterson says. “There already exist inequalities of access to cultural ideas in society. The children of well-educated parents either get it through the daily discourse in the home, or through the formal learning their parents income enables them to do. The purpose of public schooling is to give everyone access to that.”


Fife Council Social Services vs Mark and Kerry McDougall ..

Update: The video has been removed. I can only assume that the McDougalls have been warned by social services that putting their case into the public arena identifies their children and this will cause them significant harm.

With the threat of removing their children they will have no other option than to comply with whatever social services propose.

See also:

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Desperate youth who could not get a job commits suicide

DESPERATE Martin Hadfield wanted just one thing – a job. Any job. In just 12 weeks, the 20-year-old, from Greenock, applied for around 40 – without success. And eventually he was left so demoralised he took his own life, an inquest heard.
Despite being unemployed for months, proud Martin refused to accept state handouts.
His family claim he was being undercut on wages by younger and less experienced candidates and most of his job applications failed to get even a courteous response.
They say the qualified gardener felt "put down with no self-worth". And just 24 hours after yet another session with job centre staff, Martin was found dead at his flat.

There is plenty of evidence that job seekers are abused and demoralised at job centres: For example:
Former Jobcentre Plus adviser tells of a "brutal and bullying" culture of "setting claimants up to fail " Last week Iain Duncan Smith met a whistle-blower who has worked for his Department for Work and Pensions - DWP for more than 20 years. Giving the Secretary of State a dossier of evidence, the former Jobcentre Plus adviser told him of a "brutal and bullying" culture of "setting claimants up to fail"."The pressure to sanction claimants was constant," he said. "It led to people being stitched-up on a daily basis.

See fake psychological tests at Jobcentre Plus

Also  Fake jobs on website 

Deputy headmaster jailed for five years

"A shamed deputy headmaster has been jailed for five years at Cardiff Crown Court for installing secret cameras in toilets and showers to film more than 30 pupils."

"Respected teacher Gareth Williams, 47, set up the tiny spy cameras in clocks, fans and toilet cisterns to capture semi-naked children."

"Married father-of-four Williams even put a camera in the toilet of the changing rooms on school sports day to catch as many children as possible."

"Prosecutor Michael Jones said: "This was a serious systematic abuse of trust - a devious and determined invasion of privacy of the children."

"The effect on children, staff and parents was one of complete and utter disbelief."

Was Bulic Forsythe murdered to cover up abuse at care home?

"Cold case detectives are probing the murder of a council official who vowed to expose a paedophile ring allegedly linked to a future minister in Tony Blair’s government."

"The daughter of Bulic Forsythe believes her father may have been killed because he uncovered a children’s home vice ring involving powerful figures."

"Bulic told a new witness, tracked down in a Mirror investigation, that he suspected vulnerable youngsters were being assaulted by an organised gang at one home said to have been visited by the Labour politician."

"But days later Bulic, 42, was beaten to death in his flat and the case has remained unsolved for 21 years."

"Documents reveal detective Clive Driscoll advised the investigation should be reopened when he found potential links to his 1998 children’s homes probe in Lambeth, South London.
But Mr Driscoll was removed from the case for naming the Blair minister as a suspect and Bulic’s murder file has not been touched for 14 years."

See also:

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Robert Green is free

Robert Green has been released from prison:
He cannot thank everyone enough and is amazed how, two years on from his previous jail experience, so many more people have written to MPs and others in positions of power, so he knows now that the door that he helped to unlock is truly open and we will have justice for Hollie and Anne. In fact he had to leave much of the correspondence behind as he said it wouldn’t fit in a car!-this is some measure of how the colossal amount of support has been imperative in securing his release.
Original Article at Free Robert Green

CIA To End Covert Vaccine Programs After Polio Backlash

Investigation into bullying at special school

"Fresh questions are being asked about the government’s beleaguered post-Winterbourne drive to improve care for learning disabled people. An investigation is underway into “bullying accusations” at a special school run by a charity whose chief executive is trying to reinvigorate the flagging £2.86m government improvement scheme."

"Bill Mumford, chief executive of MacIntyre which runs Womaston School and Children’s Home in Wales, offered to stand down as director of the Winterbourne improvement programme after allegations of mistreatment at Womaston. The government programme launched after the abuse of learning disabled patients at the Winterbourne View privately run unit in south Gloucestershire, abuse that was exposed by BBC’s Panorama in 2011. It aims to move individuals out of institutional, large-scale, long-stay units and into community-based accommodation."

"Concerns about the behaviour of some staff towards children at MacIntyre’s specialist residential service were reported by a member of staff to the school principal in March and police and social services are investigating the claims. The school, home to students aged aged 10-19 with autism, complex behavioural needs and learning disabilities, will close in July with the young people moved to alternative placements. Staff have been suspended, other staff drafted in and, says MacIntyre in a statement, “the alleged behaviours are not occurring in the service now”.

The investigation into Womaston is expected to last several months and there are no more details about what the allegations involve."

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

John Pierce denies cover-up at Rochdale school

The council chief executive who closed Knowl View has rejected claims there was a cover-up at the school. John Pierce, who headed up Rochdale council from 1986 to 1996, said he was never given any evidence to suggest pupils at the Bamford special school were being sexually abused.
It comes as Rochdale council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) begin looking into whether widespread sexual abuse at the school had been hushed-up. GMP say they have identified 11 potential suspects while former MP Cyril Smith and ex-councillor Harry Wild have been named as abusers by current MP Simon Danczuk.
But Mr Pierce, who went on to become chairman of the borough’s now defunct health body NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale until 2011, said he was unaware of the claims while in charge of the town hall.
He added: "To the best of my knowledge there was no cover-up.
"From the evidence that was passed to me, as far as I can remember, there was nothing there that led me to believe anyone was trying to cover-up anything. "It could well have been that staff in my department were aware of the reports but they didn’t bring them to my attention."
Mr Pierce, of Norden, said three reports, written in 1988, 1991 and a council-ordered probe in 1992 detailing the scale of abuse taking place at the boy’s school didn’t find their way to his desk.

See also:




Sunday, 18 May 2014

Girl 8 taken from her mother

From the Telegraph:

"Last week, another such case came my way, involving a girl of nearly nine, who has always lived with her mother and was bright, engaging and doing well at school. Her father, who left them years ago, has a long criminal record, was a drug addict, is currently unemployed and lives in a single room. The mother had not stood in the way of contact between the girl and her father, but when this eventually caused problems due to his behaviour, the courts became involved, along with a "guardian" from Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service ("making sure that children’s voices are heard"), and a psychologist hired by the local authority."

"Last month, as I gather from someone present in court, the judge, Mrs Justice Williscroft, quite unexpectedly seemed to have changed her mind. She ruled that the girl must leave her comfortable home and be given over to the permanent care of her father, in his single room. For the time being, the child and her mother could have no contact. Unsurprisingly, the girl ran back to her mother, but had to be returned, in accordance with the judge’s wishes, to the father."

Sex change drugs to be offered to nine year olds

"Children as young as nine are to be prescribed drugs which delay the onset of puberty as the first step towards a sex change operation, according to reports."

"The treatment will be offered by one NHS trust to children who are so troubled by their gender that they may wish to undergo drastic surgery after adolescence, according to the Mail on Sunday."

"But the decision was attacked by critics who described the decision to offer the treatment at such a young age as "horrifying" and called for an immediate investigation."

"Monthly injections of the drugs, known as hypothalamic blockers, are used to slow the development of the children’s sexual organs by blocking the production of the hormones testosterone and oestrogen..."

"Mark Pritchard, the Conservative MP, called for an investigation into the trust’s decision to provide the treatment at such a young age, especially at a time when budgets for life-saving cancer drugs are being squeezed."

"His colleague Andrew Percy added: "I think many people will be horrified at the thought of a nine-year-old being provided with a drug that effectively stops them developing and maturing naturally."

Saturday, 17 May 2014

No `named person` conference 9 June 2014


June 09, 2014
10:00 am to 12:30 pm

Venue ..
Salisbury Suite
Macdonald Holyrood Hotel
81 Holyrood Road
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The Scottish Government has decided that every child in Scotland must be allocated a state-employed ‘‘named person” who is responsible for the child’s ‘wellbeing’.

These blanket measures will operate regardless of whether welfare concerns exist. Many are deeply worried about how this proposal could undermine parental rights and disrupt family life.
If you share these concerns, or want to learn more, please attend this crucial conference featuring those from journalism, academia, education, politics, religious backgrounds, as well as parents.

See link:

Privatising child protection services

Experts sound alarm over proposal from Michael Gove's department to outsource children's services to private firms. A letter signed by 37 senior social services figures and published in the Guardian says child protection is too important to be left to the 'fickleness and failings of the market.
The power to take children away from their families could be privatised along with other child protection services under controversial plans the government has quietly announced.
The proposal from Michael Gove's Department for Education (DfE) to permit the outsourcing of children's social services in England to companies such as G4S and Serco has alarmed experts. They say profit-making companies should not be in charge of such sensitive family matters, and warn that the introduction of the profit motive into child protection may distort the decision-making process.
Professor Eileen Munro, whom Gove commissioned to carry out an independent review of child protection published in 2011, said establishing a market in child protection would create perverse incentives for private companies to either take more children into care or leave too many languishing with dangerous families...
The critics say the track record of big outsourcing companies such as G4S, which was fined for overcharging on a contract to tag offenders, and Serco, which manipulated results to meet targets on outsourced NHS family doctor services, shows the dangers of introducing the profit element into vital public services.

It is revealing that two of the biggest charities involved with children, the NSPCC and Action for Children, are not averse to the privatisation of child protection services and contracts being given to huge global corporations.

But then these charities feed off the government and so we can understand why they would back the government agenda. 

One in seven councils are failing vulnerable children

One in seven councils in England is failing vulnerable children with "inadequate" child protection services, according to a damning report. There are 20 local authorities where Ofsted says standards are "unacceptably poor" and the most basic safeguards against abuse or neglect are not in place.
In its first annual report into social care, the watchdog said that child protection services are too often "manifestly and palpably weak". Just four in 10 local authorities were rated as "good" or "outstanding" and more than half were deemed to be "less than good". The study was based on more than 4,500 inspections of children’s care services in England’s 152 local authorities.
The picture was better for adoption and fostering services, which the regulator found had "generally improved over recent years". More than three quarters of local authorities are now rated as "good" or "outstanding" for their adoption and fostering services.
A climate of increasing workloads and sharply decreasing budgets is making it harder than ever for councils to improve the situation, the regulator said. The growth in the number of looked after children alone represents an estimated additional £173 million pounds a year in added costs to the system. Yet local authority budgets have been slashed by more than a quarter in the five years from 2010.
The report suggested that the watchdog would be pushing the Government to introduce tougher standards for councils. It said: "We are not satisfied that the standards [set by Government] are ambitious enough for children."

Just like the NHS, social care is being run down in order to justify the privatisation of services.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Children are the opium of the masses

For many people, becoming a parent is the most important task in life. For one MP, however, children are simply the ‘opium of the masses’.
Conservative backbencher Rory Stewart has hit out at people who think of their offspring as their ‘purpose’ in life – despite admitting he would like to become a father himself.
He said: ‘If we say the purpose of life is our children, that’s neither a purpose nor a meaning. But I’m sure I will be as besotted as everybody else when I have them.’
Conservative MP Rory Stewart says people should not let their lives be driven or defined by having children
Playing on revolutionary Karl Marx’s infamous statement that ‘religion is the opium of the masses’, Mr Stewart described children as the new ‘opium’.
His comments come just five months after he criticised society for worshipping children as they once worshipped God. On that occasion he also compared children to ‘opium’, but focused his attack on society’s tendency to prioritise the needs of young people over the elderly.

The MP is making a reputation for himself for his tasteless remarks:
Diplomat's son Rory Stewart, Eton-educated like David Cameron, caused further anger by making a tasteless "joke" about a tractor tragedy.
Mr Stewart, 37, MP for Penrith and the Border in Cumbria, said: "Some areas around here are pretty primitive, people holding up their trousers with bits of twine and that sort of thing."
The rising Tory star went on: "I have a constituency with 52,000 people and a million sheep. I was in one village where a local kid was run over by a tractor. They took him to Carlisle but they couldn't be bothered to wait at the hospital. So they put him in a darkened room for two weeks, then said he was fine. But I'm not so sure he was." Derek Daley, 76, whose son Noel died after his motorbike collided with a tractor, said: "I take great umbrage at what Mr Stewart has said. It is extremely distasteful."

Privatising state education

"The announcement in April 2014 that there will be new floor targets from 2016 –85 per cent children must reach Level 4b –has nothing to do with raising standards. It is about accelerating the number of academy conversions and thus privatising state education. There will be no new resources to help children reach these targets. On the contrary, austerity means schools’ budgets are frozen. Teachers will not get any more time. They will continue to drown in paperwork generated by anachronistic levels, league tables and performance-related pay."

"Some estimates suggest that around 90 per cent of primary schools will become ‘failing’ schools and thus ripe for conversion to academy status. Add to this the suspicion that stand-alone academies are no longer allowed by the government, it is clear that Gove and DfE have cooked up a recipe for total
privatisation. Our schools will be run by a series of giant chains. It is a nightmare scenario. We need to make a stand against this now."