Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Deep learning

One of the criticisms made against a knowledge based curriculum is that students can cram for an examination, do enough to pass and then walk away and hardly remember a thing. Another criticism is that facts keep changing. Students can always google for them when they need to; so why crowd their minds with unnecessary facts?  It`s boring to learn that way.

These criticisms are enough for a lot of people, including teachers, to jump on the `deep learning` bandwagon. Deep learning is relevant, fun and engaging. (Deep learning reaches deep into the psyche.)

I think those who criticise a knowledge based curriculum have failed to ask `deep questions` about it. For instance, it may often be the case that students walk away from an exam and remember very little; but that does not mean it was a complete waste of time. For example, if you have understood the mathematics well enough to have passed the exam, any time in the future that you want to engage with mathematics again, you can easily be `reminded.` Having done the work and understood it, something remains in the brain, so that knowledge can be retrieved and built on. The same can be said of a foreign language and many other types of learning. Of course, in all of this, time is a factor, but that is beside the point.

Human beings just do not remember everything. That is the way it is and always has been. It is not a disaster. We only need to reflect on how much humanity has come to know, by writing facts and knowledge down, retrieving it, and passing it on to others, to appreciate that. Computers may store our memories - the good and the not so good - but it takes a human being, grounded in knowledge, to retrieve what is useful and make something out of it.

So what is deep learning and why is it relevant, fun and engaging?

I think the first thing we can say about it is that you cannot learn mathematics through deep learning. Role play, forming opinions and reaching a consensus in a group, may be relevant, fun and engaging, but it is no way to understand differential equations. However, if you are keen to deal with the global energy crisis (relevant), you certainly need to get a grip of calculus. Deep learning does not allow that. Deep learning by-passes cognition and rationality and heads straight for the emotions. The Global Storylines in a previous post give an example of that. Think about advertising which certainly does not appeal to rational consumers to make informed choices. On the contrary, the messages are subliminal: do you want to be beautiful, do you want to be powerful? That level of address is a form of deep learning. It cuts through cognition to engage with the primitive subconscious drives. It is that level of address which is being used on schoolchildren, worldwide, in the name of progressive education.

Then consider which parts of the curriculum are most imbued with deep learning. It is education for global citizenship, climate change and sustainable development. Then ask: why should these parts of the curriculum be expected to by-pass the rational mind? I think part of the answer to that is that there are a lot of big global players very interested in doing just that.  Their power and influence will be consolidated if future generations swallow the messages. What will children not put up with in the future to save their planet? Power cuts, carbon taxes, reduced travel, population control, monitoring and surveillance? 

Here is `New pedagogies for deep learning,`written partly by Michael Fullan who, we are told, advises policy makers and local leaders around the world. He believes that education needs to be radically rethought partly to stop the boredom. Supporting partners include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Council and the European Schoolnet. They are interested in how technology can assist `deep learning.` That is, learning which is relevant, fun and engaging. Now why wouldn`t they be?

They believe the world is in the midst of a massive transition to a new knowledge-based and globally-linked economy. On the contrary, we are in the midst of their massive push towards the changes they want for themselves. As for a knowledge based economy, what they are really talking about is Big Data. This is what excites them because the technology is there to profitably data-mine and micro-manage all of us, including our children. The PR about deep learning is the means by which all governments are expected to put their systems in place. It is the reason why deep learning by-passes cognition. We are not supposed to notice. We are just supposed to be excited about it. Shame on the teachers who fell for it. When computers take over learning, their days are numbered.

Here is part of the interview with Michael Fullan which you can engage with on the link below.  Please note his connection to Tony Blair and his educational reforms, which Scotland, via Curriculum for Excellence, is still progressing. What does this say about Michael Russell, the Scottish Education Minister? Is he gormless or did he `sell out` and become a global puppet?

Interview with Michael Fullan

"21st learning skills have been around since 1990, so they`re old...The other limitation is that 21st century skills are too academic or cognitive. They`re missing two big pieces: character education and citizenship. Character education is the quality of perseverance, hard work, integrity, resilience, grit. Citizenship captures the qualities people need to be effective in a complex society."

"Every time we have learned something on scale it`s because we`ve created a living laboratory. This is my third laboratory of substance. The first was in England when Tony Blair focussed on literacy and numeracy ...."

Michael Fullan is currently one of four appointed experts set in place to reform the education system in Ontario.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Labour peer absents himself from House of Lords after sex allegations

 MP Simon Danczuk

"A Labour peer under investigation over child sex allegations has stopped his regular appearances in the House of Lords after claiming he has dementia."

"Official records show he charged for 15 appearances in the month before his home was searched over accusations he assaulted more than 20 boys."

"He attended the House of Lords almost every other day last year but has not returned since mid-December, when police completed the two day probe."

"The peer who is in his 80s, has not been arrested and it is understood doctors have advised that he is unfit to be quizzed."

"But campaigning Labour MP Simon Danczuk said: "I have seen him in Parliament and he looked in quite good health to me."...

"One alleged victim said he was seven when the politician visited his care home and abused him."

See also

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Assessing competences

In the following document for the European Union, the authors found that most of the Member States had formulated or were in the process of implementing policies that would move their school systems from being predominantly input led and subject oriented towards curricula which include competence, cross-curricular activities, active and individual learning, as well as a focus on learning outcomes.

This is exactly what Curriculum for Excellence is about. It has shifted from a knowledge based curriculum to a curriculum with a plethora of experiences and outcomes as its destination for pupils. It is not what you know which counts, but, more often than not, what you can demonstrate. That may be for behaviours as non-academic as: showing empathy, participating in group discussions or getting active in the local community. (That might be worth bearing in mind when we reflect on Michael Russell`s conversations with children around the country. Community participation will be rewarded.)

Competence based education is another name for this type of curriculum.

The following paper explores the intricacies and difficulties of competence-based assessment. "(The) European commission had itself found that, in comparison with subject knowledge and skills, the challenge of assessing key competences across the curriculum was acute and ongoing. (European commission, 2010)"

Assessing, not only knowledge and skills, but also attitudes is essential according to EU requirements. It is not until the following paragraph that there is any hint as to why assessing competences should be so important: "The specification of learning outcomes so that they can be assessed is central to the competence-based assessment literature relating to vocational education and originating in the USA in the 1970s. (Wolf, 2001) The emphasis is generally on identifying competence for economic roles but could caste more broadly to encompass social and civic roles too."

Now we can see why `grit` and `tenacity`have such value. When your education destines you for the worker drone class, assessment decides whether or not you will have a job at all. "In a review for the OECD, Looney (2011) reports that performance-based assessments can include tasks such as presentations, group work and projects. To this list might be added portfolios, reflective diaries, role plays and interviews.""

Global Storylines and CfE (Scotland)

The above programme encourages children to learn through role play and drama.

Global Storylines is about affective learning we are informed. "The drama is the emotional driver through which pupils are motivated because the experience really matters to them. Learning through the affective domain provokes feelings, attitudes, values and enthusiasms...There are many opportunities for assessing deep learning which go beyond the acquisition of knowledge and embrace understanding and the application of skills, values and attitudes.

Peruse the website and it all may seem like innocent fun but in the context of what the EU has in mind, to provoke children`s feelings, attitudes, values and enthusiasms, in order to manipulate and assess them as persons and their future economic or civic roles, is actually a cynical piece of social engineering.

Communities issued children`s summit challenge

The Education secretary, Michael Russell,  has announced that there will be a Children`s  Summit for Scotland. It will bring together children and young people as well as those who support them and wider civic society. The idea is to begin a conversation that will be taken around the country.

Making reference to the recent referendum, he continued: “The people of Scotland have shown overwhelmingly that our community spirit and our desire to participate towards the betterment of the nation are stronger than ever."

Not really. Some people voted for a Scottish Parliament and others voted for the status quo - community spirit had nothing to do with it. However, I am sure we are all united in wishing a better future for our children.

But is having a conversation with selected guests and invited speakers and then announcing there is a consensus for change, the way to do it? After all, we have seen this trick before. 

It was used to introduce the named person and GIRFEC into law, undermining the right to a private and family life. Now our children are left helpless against state interference and their private data will be in the clouds for generations. Whose interests are the Scottish Government actually working for? No parent who cares for their children would have voted for this.

The same device was used to introduce Curriculum for Excellence, a misnomer if ever there was one, because this is a curriculum to dumb children down. Its experiences and outcomes are about attitudes, values and behaviour - as if that was the business of Government. 

They need careful watching.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Council unlawfully deprived P of her liberty

"A council multiply breached the human rights of a learning disabled woman after unlawfully depriving her of her liberty, due to practitioners’ ignorance of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
That was the message of a damning Court of Protection judgement, published this week, regarding Somerset council’s actions in keeping the 19-year-old woman in residential settings for a year with restricted access to her family, following a safeguarding probe."

"Judge Nicholas Marston said the council had shown a "blatant disregard of the process of the Mental Capacity Act and a failure to respect the rights of both P and her family" under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)..."

"P had lived with her family from birth until last May, when she started a two-week respite placement while her mother went on holiday. After respite staff found bruising to her chest, the council initiated a safeguarding investigation."

Steven Neary with his Dad - another deprivation of liberty abuse

"On the basis of a paediatrician’s report, a strategy meeting had found that it was "highly likely that P had received a significant injury from someone or something other than herself".

"When P’s mother, known as M, returned from holiday, the council staff said P would not be returning home because of the investigation into the bruising. A capacity assessment had found that P lacked the capacity to decide whether to return home, though M requested that she be returned home immediately."

"However, the paediatrician’s report had been made without the knowledge that, three days before starting the respite placement, P had been seen hitting herself on the sternum by her school teachers. In addition, neither the paediatrician, nor the strategy meeting, were aware, that, on the same day, she had also had to be physically restrained on a school trip after knocking staff members to the floor and pulling hair."

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Beechwood survivor goes on hunger strike


"Key witness and survivor of an alleged paedophile ring at former Nottinghamshire children’s home, Beechwood, Melanie Shaw, has made a dramatic decision to start a hunger strike at the Peterborough prison where she is being held on remand for arson – a shed fire she firmly denies any involvement in, and for which no substantive evidence has been presented in court..."

News of her hunger strike and the revelation of self-harming will no doubt alarm family and friends who have watched Melanie’s health deteriorate at the Sodexo-run prison, which boasts on its website, "a reputation for delivering excellent, ethical, innovative and rehabilitative services…"

UK Column official Melanie Shaw Facebook page HERE

See also

Police inquiry into stolen videos

"Vulnerable victims of sex crimes have reacted with panic and fury after highly sensitive videos of their police interviews were stolen in an ‘unacceptable’ breach of security."
"The theft of computers containing the statements sparked disbelief among witnesses when they were informed of the break-in. And police were accused of trying to cover up the incident by asking those affected to keep quiet about it."
"The recordings were being edited by a private firm in Greater Manchester for the Crown Prosecution Service. Last night, Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons’ Home Affairs Committee, said he was ‘deeply concerned by the serious security breach’ and voiced ‘surprise’ that a private firm had control of such data."
"The loss is a blow for the CPS in the North-West, which oversaw the prosecution of the Rochdale gang in which nine men were convicted for exploiting dozens of girls as young as 13. Publicity from the trial led to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse coming forward after suffering in silence for years..."
Mr Vaz said he would be challenging CPS boss Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, over the security breach when she gives evidence to the Home Affairs Committee next month

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Police sexual misconduct

"More than 500 police have been disciplined in the past five years for sexual misconduct or have quit while under investigation."

"Dozens of the officers were jailed for depraved offences including child abuse and rape."

"In 252 cases, police were convicted of sex crimes or sacked."

"Det Supt Jackie Alexander, of Notts police, said: "It is really important that forces have an open mind that abuse can occur because if we can’t protect the vulnerable, who can?"

"She added that her force had been "proactive" in tackling the problem in recent years."

"Our probe comes in the wake of constabularies being accused of failing to properly investigate rich and powerful paedophiles including TV star Jimmy Savile."

"Police are also under fire for allowing gangs to abuse thousands of children in towns such as Rotherham and Rochdale."

Monday, 22 September 2014

Big Data: the implications for education and society

I refer to my previous post and Jose Ferreira`s talk about Knewton and its potential to provide each student with an individualised learning plan via its computer programmes. This is now the strength of Big Data which can track users in real time and make predictions about their future behaviour, or as close to that as matters.

It began with a question: `What if your math syllabus could tell you what to eat for breakfast to score higher on your quiz tomorrow?`Jose Ferreira`s talk then focused on the possibilities and benefits of personalised learning, using an example from mathematics. He never mentioned breakfast again.

Common Core in the USA insists that each child should be attached to a computer so that the above type of tracking can take place. (They have Bill Gates to thank for that.) That may appeal to those who view anything to do with computers as modern/hip/cool and the way forward for society. Youngsters in universities are being appealed to in their thousands in order to design such systems. Most of them are politically naive.

What has happened globally is that curricula have been changed in order to fit into the Big Data tracking possibilities. What did you have for breakfast is only the beginning?

Common Core, like Curriculum for Excellence and others, have introduced social and emotional learning into schools. This means that programmes can track attitudes, values and behaviours. If you want to monitor and control populations, that is the kind of information corporations and governments want.
Dr Duke Pesta (see above) gives another talk.

Note it is two hours and more long, but for those who wish to understand how Common Core has been slipped into the USA, under the radar, it is a good place to go. It is also an indication of what is planned for the rest of us.

See also


Big data in education

What if your math syllabus could tell you what to eat for breakfast to score higher on your quiz tomorrow? Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton, shares his vision for a future where every student receives a truly personalized curriculum best suited to his or her needs. Knewton collects millions of data points about student users in order to provide them with more effective timing and content to enhance learning. (See link above for Youtube video)
This is becoming more of a reality in the USA because every child doing Common Core is attached to a computer. Mr Ferreira does talk very fast so here is a transcript of part of the talk:

"It is like the human race is about to enter a totally data-mine human existence and it`s going to be really fun to watch. It`s going to be one of those things where our grandkids our going to tell our kids, "I can`t believe you grew up in a world like that," just like our kids complained that we went to record stores..."

"The world in 30 years is going to be unrecognisably data mined. So what does that mean for education?"

"Well education happens to be today the world`s most data minable industry by far and it`s not even close. So maybe one day healthcare will be up there when they have little nanobots that are in your bloodstream that are doing real time analysis, but until then it`s not close. Education beats everything else hands down. So let`s look at other big data industries."

"We haven`t given that a name yet, what you figure out is everything in education is correlated to everything else down to the concept. Now this is where education`s different from search and social networking. If someone tagged every single line, every single sentence of all the world`s web pages for Google, or every single line of dialogue in Netflix, which no-one`s done, but even if they had they`re not really a whole lot of interesting correlations there. Everything in education is correlated to everything else. Every single concept is correlated in a predictable way to everything else using psychometrics. Right."

"So if you do ten minutes of work in Google you produce a dozen data points for Google. Because everything we do is tagged at such a grander level if you do 10 minutes of work for Knewton you cascade out lots and lots of other data, and here`s why. When you took that SAT there might be 40 different concepts about equal auto triangles that are tested on all the SATs ever given in any one year. But you didn`t get all 40 questions you got two questions on equal auto triangles because they figure if you`re in the top 14th percentile at those two questions, 13% on this one and 15% on that one, if your`re in the top 14th percentile on those two questions in equal auto triangles the odds are 98% percentile chance that you`re in the top 14% percentile at every concept about equal auto triangles. And there`s a 96% chance that you`re in the top 15% percentile about all triangle concepts, three, four, five, 30%, 60%, 90%, asceles, etc, etc,. You did a little bit of work for Knewton and we used just established signs of psychometrics to cascade out hundreds of other data. So we can produce incredible quantities of data per user per day."

"It`s really, really hard to get that, but if you can get all that tagging done D and that`s one of our tags it`s on D that`s a small part of our overall taxonomy, that`s just part of one course and we have dozens of taxonomies, then if you can do this, what you can do with the data if you actually do all that work is you can figure out exactly what students know and how well they know it. You can figure it out down to the percentile versus the rest of the population. So Knewton students today we have about 180,000 and next year it`ll be closer to ten million, and that`s just our Pearson partnership. So for every one of the students we can figure out within a few hours what they`re strong at and what they`re weak at, at the beginning of the course."

"So we can produce a unique syllabus for each student each day, literally unique. There`s not enough time in the universe to have the same syllabus on any one day, that`s how many there are. So it`s optimised for each kid down to the atomic concept. And then we can figure out things like well here`s your homework tomorrow night. You`re going to struggle with that homework or you`re going to fail it... "

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Scottish Referendum

More than 100,000 of the total who were eligible to vote in the Scottish referendum and who were 16 to 17-year-olds had registered to vote...


"A survey, commissioned by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, said 71% of 16 to 17-year-olds voted for Scotland to be independent and 29% voted against. "

"So even if the age-group contributed their political views, it didn't appear to influence the outcome. Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom after the "No" campaign won. "

"The Scottish referendum was a one-off for 16 and 17-year-olds, after the Scottish Parliament passed legislation allowing it to happen."

"It is unlikely that 16 and 17 year olds will have the opportunity to take part in the General election in May 2015 because there is no consensus across the political parties for that."

The Lord Ashcroft overnight poll of 2,047 voters found that 73% over 65s chose No.

Schools get involved in pupils` lunches

Parents have removed six children from a primary school after they introduced a blanket ban on packed lunches. Milefield Primary School in Grimethorpe, Barnsley, South Yorks., only informed parents of their controversial move in a letter sent home with the children on the last day of term in July.
And despite repeated calls from parents for their thoughts to be heard, the new dinner policy was implemented when the kids returned to school last Friday. Angry dad Adam Martin, 31, has now taken his three children, Harry, four, George, five and Amelia, seven, out of the school after losing all faith over the lunch dispute.

Gas engineer Adam said: "I feel like our freedom of choice has been taken away. We were appalled to be told our children couldn't take in pack lunches and further incensed with how the school have dealt with the situation. "We feel very strongly about this. I'm sure this must be violating some kind of human right." According to their strict new rules the only options open to parents now is to let them have a school cooked lunch or to go home.
Headteacher Paula Murray said: "We're not forcing anyone.[?] We're encouraging the promotion of healthy eating [?] and it's had such positive impact and we're only into day four of the actual programme being run out in the school. [After four days there`s a positive impact? She sounds like a politician.]

Perhaps there are plans for biometric databases in the near future. See the Express:

Pupils will have their fingerprints taken at their £20,000 high-tech new school canteen in a bid to reduce queues and monitor pupils’ diets.
Redhill School in Stourbridge will bring in the controversial technology as part of a plan to implement a cashless system throughout the school. The system requires pupils to press a finger against a machine which converts the print into biometric data. This can then be used to identify individual pupils accounts.

A lot of the respondents to the article are blase about the introduction of biometric databases into schools but you have to ask what incentives there are for schools to set up such expensive systems?  It would be naive to assume that there are none or that they are not financial. Training pupils to accept a cashless society also has political and economic consequences for them in their adult lives.

There are a few other assumptions that are not without controversy:

- that it should be the role of the school to monitor pupils` eating

- that collecting personal data and putting it into databases does not infringe privacy rights

- that schools do provide a `healthy` diet (If they do, this does beg the question then why monitor pupils?)

Friday, 19 September 2014

Compulsory relationship lessons for children

Yvette Cooper said a `massive culture change` was needed to stop sexual abuse victims being blamed.
Children should receive compulsory relationship lessons to prevent violence against women, Yvette Cooper has said.
Speaking in the wake of the Rotherham sex abuse scandal, the Shadow Home Secretary said the lessons should be included in the curriculum to help change attitudes.
She insisted a 'massive culture change' was needed to stop sexual abuse victims from receiving blame.
Last month, Professor Alexis Jay's report revealed at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham - sparking criticism of the police, councillors and local authority officials. 
Professor Jay outlined details of exploitation over a 16-year period with examples of girls who were raped, trafficked, threatened with extreme violence and ignored by the statutory authorities. 
Read more: 

Children removed at gun point in New South Wales

"Footage was provided to Australia's National Indigenous TV (NITV) news show and the video showed the New South Wales police entering a home at around 6:30am earlier in the year to remove some young Aboriginal children."

"The police were joined by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS)."

"The parents who were awoken by the police told NITV that the officers' guns were pointed at them as they were then handcuffed while their children were removed from their care."

"The police said children aged between one and 13 were removed from the home."

"A forum has been held in Sydney to tackle the staggering number of Aboriginal children living in out-of-home care."

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up five per cent of Australia's child population, yet represent 34 per cent of children in out-of-home care."

"Grandmothers, community members and NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge have formed a united front in response to the forced removal of Aboriginal children, which they addressed at last night's "Still Stolen" forum in Sydney."

"Grandmothers Against Removals campaigner Aunty Hazel told the crowd that authorities needed to engage with families and communities before removing children."

"If the parents are having a problem, talk to them and engage them because these kids don't just belong to mum and dad; they belong to us."

"Aunty Hazel has joined forces with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care to propose and implement an Aboriginal Community Expert Committee."

"`It will empower communities and families in how these things have been conducted and allow them to access services and prevent removals from families,` she said."

"Greens MP David Shoebridge told the forum that Aboriginal groups were united in efforts to tackle the problem."

"`It's Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR), it's National Aboriginal Strategic Alliance (NASA), and these organisations that are talking and sharing their stories and saying 'We want control over our families and children to ensure they are being taken care of in their own culture and kin',` he said."

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Doctor pleads guilty to child sexual abuse

A married children’s doctor today pleaded guilty to a string of sexual offences against cancer sufferers in his care aged as young as eight.

Dr Myles Bradbury, 41, of Herringswell, Suffolk, admitted to seven counts of sexual assault and 12 of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

He also pleaded guilty to three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The 41-year-old was a paediatric haematologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. He abused young patients to carry out examinations purely for his own sexual gratification and with no medical justification whatsoever.

Police later revealed that Bradbury had filmed one of his young victims as he examined him for his sexual gratification.

Read more:
See also a discussion about the case and paedophiles who gravitate towards children in the care of state institutions.

Update 3.12.2014

Gardasil and mystery illness

"A mystery illness has overwhelmed a small town in northern Colombia as scores of teenage girls have been hospitalized with symptoms that parents fear could be an adverse reaction to a popular vaccine against cervical cancer."

"Authorities say they still don't know what caused more than 200 girls in El Carmen de Bolivar to come down with symptoms ranging from fainting to numbness in the hands and headaches. "

"Some have hinted that the town of 95,000 near Colombia's Caribbean coast could be experiencing a rare case of mass hysteria." ..

"Parents are on edge however because all the girls, ranging in ages from 9 to 16, were injected in recent months with the vaccine Gardasil. On Wednesday, residents marched peacefully to demand a thorough investigation."

See also

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Mindfulness: a political agenda

The boundaries between mental health and education are becoming less clear with the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence and GIRFEC into schools in Scotland. It should be no surprise, therefore, to read the heading on the above website: `Mindfulness as a foundation for the Values of Curriculum for Excellence.` Whether or not one agrees with the principle of integrating wellbeing with education, it should be noted that the introduction of mindfulness training (meditation) into schools is now widespread and global.
Within the UK, the Oxford Mindfulness In Education Project has been responsible for most of the UK research and implementation in schools in England over the last 10 years...
In Scotland, Mindfulness training has taken place in schools with pupils predominantly informally within religious studies departments or in Personal and Social Education. It is only in the last 3 year that Mindfulness has begun to be the focus for research in Scottish schools.
What might be less well known is that there is a political agenda behind the notions of wellbeing and mindfulness. For a straightforward account see the article: `Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm...`
The evolution of the economy is the evolution of consciousness. We live in an age of profound disruptions. Global crises in finance, food, fuel, water, resource scarcity and poverty challenge every aspect of our societies. These disruptions also open up the possibilities for personal and societal renewal. . . . So what will it take to wake up from our collective sleepwalking? It will require applying the power of mindfulness, both individually and collectively, to the evolution of business, democracy, and society.

If practised over time, meditation can produce the `oceanic` feeling or sense of `oneness with the universe` where the boundary between self and others, or self and the universe can dissipate. For those interested in engineering a new global consciousness in which global citizenship and reduced consumption are the orders of the day, it is a very useful technique. Should we be surprised that world leaders are interested in it?

However, when mindfulness is introduced into schools it is dressed up as a technique to improve the wellbeing of children and the other implications of the practice are ignored. Whatever our views about global economics and ecology are, manipulating children in schools for political reasons, in such an underhanded way, is the antithesis of education.  

There are also health risks:
(P)sychiatrists have now sounded a warning that as well as bringing benefits, mindfulness meditation can have troubling side-effects. Evidence is also emerging of underqualified teachers presenting themselves as mindfulness experts, including through the NHS.

GiRFEC: Data linkages and databases

From Professor Bill Buchanan:

"And for the ownership of the data … well surely the end game is that it is our data, and we must have some rights on how it is to be used? For just now, that seems one step too far, but in this Information Age we need to start to move to a place where, at least, we can have access to it, and then move to a point that we can have ownership of it, and actually define who we trust to access it. That is a quantum leap, but it is a natural one for the future. It is a massive leap, but it will surely be worth it!"

"With the first steps taken towards assessing risks around children, and other potential risk assessors, the opportunity for gathering information in aggregated and centralised databases gives opportunities for detecting genuine risk, on the other hand it risks us all being spied on. When I first started in academia we kept all our assessments on students secret, and there was never a notion that students can actually review what we have said about them. These days, we have extensive feedback, and we have to justify all the grades that we allocate. So The Children and Young People Bill needs to be watched carefully, in order to protect the rights of us all."




Expert witness faces being struck off

"A leading doctor who acted as an expert witness for parents accused of killing their children faces being struck off, amid claims that she is the victim of a police witch hunt."

"Dr Waney Squier, a paediatric neuropathologist, is due to appear before the General Medical Council (GMC) tomorrow accused of "bias" and "dishonesty" after disputing the existence of "shaken baby syndrome" in a number of court cases."

"For decades, the pathologist, who works at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, appeared as a prosecution witness against parents accused of killing their children."

"She argued that a combination of three brain injuries — swelling of the brain, bleeding between the skull and brain and bleeding in the retina — was sufficient to determine that the death resulted from a child being violently shaken."

"But more than a decade ago, amid the emergence of research disputing the mainstream theory, Dr Squier had a change of heart, becoming convinced that such symptoms were not conclusive."

"Fearing that reliance on the argument had led to miscarriages of justice, she became a key expert witness defending parents who said their children’s deaths were the result of natural tragedies."

"The case opening tomorrow could see Dr Squier, a pathologist for more than 30 years, removed from the medical register, for the opinions she has expressed in court."

Sunday, 14 September 2014

New institution for young people in Northampton

Northampton General Lunatic Asylum 1849

A new building is going to be built on the grounds of the asylum.

St Andrew’s, the UK’s leading charity providing specialist NHS care, has received planning approval to construct a new residential building for young people with mental illness, autism and learning difficulties in Northampton.

It is depressing to read the following:

(The) ... new building on Cliftonville Road will bring together adolescent services at St Andrew’s on one site and will be the largest facility of its kind in Europe. It will provide care to young people from across the United Kingdom, and alongside 110 residential beds, it will include a school, sports and therapy areas, and a number of activity and landscaped courtyards.

Providing care to young people from across the UK means that vulnerable young people are going to be removed from their families and communities. The Mental Health Acts and Incapacity Acts make that easy to achieve. As well as that, charities have incentive to keep young people within their institutions because they are able to charge thousands of pounds per week to the NHS for each individual`s care.  In addition, chief executives draw huge salaries when the business thrives.

Reporting about St Andrews Healthcare in October 2013, Stephen Cook stated: "They behave like big businesses, although they don't have shareholders and pay dividends..."
News of the latest pay rise for the chief executive of St Andrew's Healthcare, a charity, brings an extra dimension to the controversy about senior pay in the sector. His 18 per cent increase of £101,000 brought his salary to £653,000 "

What about the quality of care itself?

Awards include 2011 Third Sector Provider of the Year and 2012 Mental Health Provider of the Year. ..
In December 2013 the hospital was inspected by the Care Quality Commission who found it was so short staffed at its unit for under-18s that patients sometimes had to restrain each other.'s_Hospital

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Essex County Council has dropped prosecution for school absence

"Today Liberty announced that Essex County Council has dropped its prosecution of James and Dana Haymore for failing to ensure their son "regularly attended school" on the basis of six days’ absence."

"The couple, originally from the US, were refused permission to take their son out of primary school for a family reunion in America to commemorate Mrs Haymore’s grandfather. They were issued with penalty notices by the Council, but refused to pay on principle. They were then prosecuted for an offence which could result in a £1,000 fine and a criminal record."

"Liberty, representing the Haymores, argued that – among other things – the decision to prosecute them breached the Human Rights Act, because it affected their and their children’s right to a family life under Article 8. The trial was due to begin on 10 October. Despite moving back to the US, the couple were prepared to travel to the UK to clear their name. But today the Council revealed the prosecution has been dropped."

Boy who was bullied commits suicide

"On March 28 Simon took his own life after years of bullying at school. He died in hospital four days later...Simon had been picked on since he started primary school..."

"He wasn’t what you imagine a bullying victim to be," says Julie. "But over the years the taunts, the threats, the kicks, the punches he faced every school day built up. "They chipped away until he couldn’t take it any more."..

" `Time and again I went to school and they kept saying they were dealing with it,` she says. `They say they have a zero-tolerance policy but all I saw was kids being told off or sent home and then returning and starting again.`"

" `Simon did everything they tell you to do when you’re being bullied. "He stood up for himself, wouldn’t be cowed. But the bullies didn’t respond to his strength, just found more ways to torment him. `"

"Simon would invent ways of avoiding school putting hot-water bottles in his bed to feign a fever or make himself vomit. Julie let him stay home but when his attendance dipped under 85 per cent, social services arrived."

"`Then I had to say no to him,` " says Julie...Now she says she wishes she’d had the courage to pull him out of school. `I didn’t have the guts to go up against social services. It’s my one regret,` she says..."

"She says: `If I could give one piece of advice to parents whose children are being bullied it’s to never, ever let the authorities tell you what’s best for your child.`"

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Can social workers be trusted with digital media?

Digital media enables professionals to communicate more effectively with service users and each other.

Perhaps not.

A social worker has been given a 12-month conditions of practice order by the HCPC after posting comments on Facebook about a child protection court case.

The social worker posted on the social networking site: "I’m in court tomorrow for a case where there is a high level of domestic violence amongst many things…" and after the trial finished posted: "It’s powerful to know that…children’s lives have just massively changed for the better and now they are safe and protected from harm and have every hope for the future…"

One of the posts was accompanied by a small map, pinpointing the location of the court.

The HCPC’s conduct and competence committee found the comments to be "disrespectful and insensitive" in tone and could have led to a breach of confidentiality for the family involved in the case.

The social worker told the HCPC committee that "she had believed that her Facebook page was accessible only to her ‘friends’, not the wider public as a result of her privacy settings". However the post was publicly available and was found by her manager through a Google search of her name.

.Miss Condon

The Health and Care Professional Council found Miss Condon guilty of misconduct and the local authority decided not to renew her contract.

However, she has not been struck off. Instead, she must be closely monitored by a line manager for a year.

Read more:

Exploitation of children in Glasgow mirrors the scandal in England

INVESTIGATION: Police inquiry into sexual exploitation of children in Glasgow mirrors the scandal in England, writes Dani Garavelli

POLICE are investigating the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children in Scotland by men from ethnic minorities in cases that bear striking similarities to the organised abuse of youngsters in Rotherham, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

Detectives have launched two operations into the abuse of vulnerable teenagers, some of whom absconded from children’s homes, in Glasgow.

"The first, Operation Cotswold, set up in 2011, focused on a group of Middle Eastern asylum seekers in the north of the city. At least 26 potential victims were identified and files were sent to the procurator-fiscal, but no prosecutions were brought."

"It is understood vulnerable young girls were found in the home of one or more suspects, but many identified as at risk did not see themselves as victims and were reluctant to co-operate, making it difficult to gather evidence and get the case to court."

"Now questions are being raised as to whether more could have been done to tackle CSE north of the Border."

"Yesterday, shadow justice secretary Graeme Pearson said he would like to see any questions over CSE cases in Scotland addressed as part of an overarching child sex abuse inquiry. "Because many of the victims [in CSE cases] come from vulnerable backgrounds their voices haven’t been heard with the same power as might be the case in other circumstances," he said."

"As CSE scandals have broken elsewhere, police, child protection agencies and the Scottish Government have made its investigation a priority. Yet until recently little research had been carried out north of the Border...."

"In 2012, the charity Roshni, which campaigns on ethnic minority issues, held a conference on CSE in Glasgow and last year the government launched an inquiry into CSE."

"After taking evidence, the government backed the setting up of a national working group and the development of a national CSE strategy. ..Police Scotland is working on developing a problem profile on CSE which will establish a more detailed understanding of the issue and the scale of the problem."

"Yet Crewe (Barnardo`s) said he believed vulnerable children were still being exposed to unnecessary risk in Scotland because of underlying attitudes about troubled teenagers, particularly those in residential care."

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

GIRFEC and Curriculum for Excellence: the corporate parenting agenda

GIRFEC is being implemented by child protection, education, health, police, social services and the voluntary sector - in fact, anybody who comes into contact with the child but who is not the parent of the child. At the same time, education, as the transmission of knowledge, is being diluted and replaced with a softer, social and emotional wellbeing approach. This allows the agents of the state to surround the child with their wellbeing `concerns.` It is a political agenda and the child is to be nudged towards transformational change (changed attitudes and behaviours) that are fit for the twenty first century.

Two items on the political agenda are global citizenship and sustainable development.

We can reflect back to the Club of Rome (think tank for the UN) and their 1991 book The First Global Revolution:

"In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself."

In `The Contribution of Early Childhood Education to a Sustainable Society,` (Paris, UNESCO 2008) it is suggested that, "instead of talking about the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic), one should refer to the 7Rs for education for sustainable development (reduce, reuse, recycle, respect, repair, reflect and refuse)...We are told that, "Young children can be encouraged to question over-consumption through discussions about familiar food products, clothes, toys and advertisements..." (Here the participants at the conference are referring to children in kindergarten)

In this planned solution to what the UN globalists perceive to be as the problem of `human over-consumption` it is not difficult to envision that austerity will be the new norm and that climate change will be the justification for the `austerity/sustainability.` How can it be made acceptable to the masses? It is true that young children are susceptible to adult influences but they have families who are unlikely to want to give up their traditional lifestyles. In this context the parent/child bond becomes the problem. 

"The conceptual quest of Early Childhood Education – which is associated with the need to break old paradigms of the exclusivity of the family and the model of formal school as mentioned above – seems to be the key issue..." 
By emphasizing the role of Early Child Education to support families and broaden the developmental needs of young children, combining care, upbringing and learning, this approach seems to be close to the meaning of sustainable development defended in this article. 

Considering that the child is subject of rights, including the one to be taken care of, raised and educated in a context which is not only in the family, and that the family’s responsibilities can be shared with society, causes at least unease...

Here is Scotland`s Vision: `Learning for Change` Scotland`s Action Plan for the second half of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development` (2010).

"To integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning" is the overarching goal of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and is what Scotland aspires to achieve.

A huge amount has been achieved in the first five years of the UN Decade. We have welcomed the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence, in which the principles of sustainable development are firmly embedded...
This is a whole of Scotland approach, [GIRFEC] where every individual should have the opportunity to learn about the benefits that a sustainable way of living and working can bring – for every one of us. Creating a sustainable future for us and for Scotland will require widespread understanding and huge cultural change – and the key to achieving this is education for sustainable development.  

Meeting the climate change targets is not for Government alone to achieve. This will require a fundamental shift in the way the people of Scotland live, work and travel, affecting all of our lives in one way or another. 

They go on: "Learning in its broadest sense, incorporating all aspects of community and business learning... delivered through public, private, voluntary and community sectors, learning at all levels can help us move towards a sustainable way of living.."
We are already experiencing the huge cultural shifts via Curriculum for Excellence, GIRFEC and the named person. Although CfE is presented as necessary to prepare children to take part in the global economy in the twenty first century, there is nothing `necessary` about it. It is a political programme to push children towards sustainable development and a micro-managed society. The price children are paying for that is to have a touchy/feely education that confuses feelings and attitudes with what there is to know. It is being done to children quite deliberately.

Children`s rights are used to displace parental rights, leaving children vulnerable to state control. Instead of the child being educated to become an informed adult capable of scrutinising the state, the state now constantly monitors the child in order to provide the child with its services. In this nightmare for the twenty first century, the state, as corporate parent, always knows best.

Curriculum for Excellence and GIRFEC - Combining care, upbringing and learning - are very dangerous ideas and it is not difficult to trace their roots.