Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Could anyone have saved Liam Fee ?

"One of the questions raised by the case of Liam Fee - whose mother and her partner were convicted of his murder - has been could anyone have saved him?"

"On a number of occasions concerns were raised about the little boy, who was only two-and-a-half-years old when he died."

"His nursery alerted social services, worried by a change in Liam, and the fact that he was losing weight and had a number of injuries."

"Liam's childminder had also made her concerns known."

"The High Court in Livingston heard from Patricia Smith, who used the same childminder. Ms Smith told the jury she phoned Fife Social Work department after meeting the Fees in the street."

"Liam was in his buggy but she told the court she didn't know if he was drugged or dead."

"A senior Fife social worker admitted in court that at one point Liam `fell off their radar`. A member of staff had gone off sick, no-one else was assigned and Liam's case was not reviewed until further concerns were raised."

"Det Insp Rory Hamilton, of Police Scotland, said: `During joint interviews with specially-trained detectives and officials from Fife Council, the evidence began to build towards a picture of horrendous abuse which directly contributed to the version of events being put forward by the two accused being utterly discredited`."

"`This was a complex, challenging and sensitive investigation which involved interviewing two young children to establish the level of abuse and neglect both they and Liam Fee had been subjected to`."

"`It was because of their courage that detectives were able to identify Rachel and Nyomi Fee as being responsible for a wide range of serious offences against three children`."

From (GIRFEC) Programme Board minutes (page 4) [10.09.2013]
"Alan offered an example of good practice on information sharing from Fife. Fife already had the Named Person in place and the police had been sharing information since April 2013. 400 cases per month had been raised."

Liam died in a bedroom of the family home on Saturday 22 March 2014. There had been several warnings to child protection services, but his Named Person did not save him.

Despite Humza Yousaf`s statement on Question Time about the dangers of misconceptions about the Name Person scheme, the biggest misconception is that the scheme will prevent such abuses.

It`s time to throw out the GIRFEC wellbeing data grab and start investing more in child protection social services who need to be properly trained, focused and resourced.

Council forced to issue apology for medical mix-up

Former nursery school headteacher Angela Milnes was distraught when council officials wrongly labelled her as mentally ill and threatened to have her young daughter Sylvia (pictured, now aged seven) adopted
"A former nursery school headteacher has told how bungling social workers put her three-year-old daughter into care for eight months after a medical record mix-up."

"Angela Milnes was distraught when council officials wrongly labelled her as mentally ill and threatened to have Sylvia adopted."

"The award-winning parenting blogger had to fight to get her daughter back before council bosses finally admitted they had made a mistake."

"Eventually, a judge ordered mother and daughter to be reunited and council chiefs were forced to issue an apology. They also agreed to pay Mrs Milnes substantial damages, which must be held in trust until Sylvia, now seven, turns 18."

Read more:

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Plans to provide funding directly to headteachers

"BATTLE lines are being drawn up over controversial proposals to hand more education funding direct to headteachers instead of councils."

"Local authority leaders have warned SNP proposals to give more funding directly to schools could damage the drive to improve attainment by restricting the use of funding."

"However, Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the plans, included in the party's election manifesto, would give `real power` to schools."

"The row follows the publication of the manifesto which included broad proposals for a shake-up of the ways schools are run with the setting up of education regions."

"In addition, the SNP intends to give more public money directly to headteachers to use on local priorities including moves to close the attainment gap between rich and poor."

How will this affect headteachers in the role of Named Persons ?

Seven year old still faces deportation

"George Osborne has been accused of giving a `shameful` response to the situation of a seven-year old boy who faces being deported from the Highlands with his family."

"The Chancellor was confronted with the case of Gaelic-speaker Lachlan Brain, who came to Scotland with his Australian family as part of a government scheme yet is set to be thrown out of the country next week."

"Stepping in for David Cameron at Prime Minister`s Questions, the Chancellor appeared to dismiss the Brain family`s situation and instead suggested the SNP should do more themselves to create `an entrepreneurial Scotland where people want to move to from the rest of the United Kingdom`."


"Mr Osborne seemed to know nothing about the case, the SNP`s Westminster leader Angus Robertson said, despite it receiving `wall-to-wall` coverage in Scotland."

"And a spokesperson for the SNP told The Independent it was `dire` for the Prime Minister`s stand-in to wash his hands of the situation by raising Scotland`s fiscal autonomy."

"Carol Monaghan, the SNP member for Glasgow North West, accused the Home Secretary Theresa May of `smirking away` as the Brain family case was raised, describing what she saw in the Commons as `disgusting`."

Friday, 27 May 2016

Scotland could be a world leader in preconception health

With the monitoring of childhood from conception to eighteen years, it was only a matter of time before there would be an interest in preconception:

"A report calling for would-be parents to consider delaying a pregnancy if they are stressed, dependent on drink or drugs, obese or affected by domestic violence, has been hailed by a leading US health expert."

"Dr Sarah Verbiest, executive director of the Centre for Maternal and Infant Health at the University of North Carolina, said the study could make Scotland a world leader in preconception health."

"Dr Verbiest, who is also a senior advisor to the US Centre for Disease Control, said: `If taken seriously and translated into action, this report has the potential to improve the health of generations of Scottish children, young adults and families, while setting a high bar of achievement internationally."

" `I predict it will put Scotland on the map in terms of preconception health, education and care`."

"The report by Dr Jonathan Sher, an author and former policy director of Children in Scotland, reviewed international research on improving child health and concluded that in many pregnancies, harm has already been done to the child before advice is sought from medical professions - and in many cases before conception has even occurred."

Parents take legal action to get children treated closer to home

"Parents whose children have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act are taking legal action to get them treated closer to home."

"Last year, almost half of under 18-year-olds with learning difficulties were placed in hospitals more than 60 miles from home and families have begun to campaign for change."

Adele Hanlon has launched a petition to get her son released

"Eddie Hanlon, 16, has autism, bipolar and epilepsy. For the last two years he has been in a secure unit in Newcastle, 300 miles from his Bristol home."

"His mother Adele gets to see him just once a month and she has set up an online petition to get him out of hospital which has more than 64,000 signatures." 

"Last year, the Government announced it would spend £ on children's mental health care over the next five years and the Department of Health says it is delivering on its commitment to young people's mental health."

"NHS England insists more beds are being made available and additional investment will help. However, the Government says change won't happen overnight."

Psychologising readiness for work

"Eligibility for social security benefits in many advanced economies is dependent on unemployed and underemployed people carrying out an expanding range of job search, training and work preparation activities, as well as mandatory unpaid labour (workfare). Increasingly, these activities include interventions intended to modify attitudes, beliefs and personality, notably through the imposition of positive affect."

"Labour on the self in order to achieve characteristics said to increase employability is now widely promoted. This work and the discourse on it are central to the experience of many claimants and contribute to the view that unemployment is evidence of both personal failure and psychological deficit. The use of psychology in the delivery of workfare functions to erase the experience and effects of social and economic inequalities, to construct a psychological ideal that links unemployment to psychological deficit, and so to authorise the extension of stateand state-contractedsurveillance to psychological characteristics."

This training begins in school where Curriculum for Excellence is supposed to equip children with the skills required for learning, life and work.

Children are encouraged to make individualised statements about their mental and emotional health such as: "I know that we all experience a variety of thoughts and emotions that affect how we feel and behave and I am learning ways of managing them."

Whilst being stripped of essential knowledge in the curriculum, there is an emphasis on confidence, self-esteem, resilience and motivation - as well as group think - for these are the attributes future employers are looking for. They also make children look inwards rather than outwards for explanations when things do not work out.


Thursday, 26 May 2016

The toxic Named Person plan

"IF there was one subject which was raised time and again during the Holyrood election campaign it was the SNP’s plan to introduce a `named person` for every child in Scotland as of August."

"Toxic became the word most used to describe this plan and every attempt at answering vital questions was so cack-handed that it further undermined parental faith in the whole idea. Nicola Sturgeon indicated it wouldn’t be compulsory which is not the case. Humza Yousaf on BBC Question Time declared that a named person would only give advice when a parent asks for it again not what is written in the legislation..."

Just to recap, the named person, or `head gardener` as the government* has described the role, will be a de facto state guardian, the supervisor of the other gardeners (parents) in a child’s life as it buds then blooms into adulthood. This is for every child, not just those children considered vulnerable or at risk and already known to social services."

"Unsurprisingly many thousands of parents are furious at the idea that a person appointed by the government could ultimately have greater authority over their child than they do; can have access to any private medical or legal documents regarding the family without their knowledge; can intervene in family life when they see fit and keep dossiers on what goes on. There’s anger, too, that any parental resistance to having a named person can be deemed a `risk factor`."

"Unsurprisingly health visitors and headteachers are furious about the extra legal responsibility which will be heaped upon them and the ad-hoc way it will work especially during school holidays. Midwives, too, will also be "named persons" during pregnancy, planning and ensuring women follow "the correct pathway of care". Whatever that may mean..."

"Of course everyone wants vulnerable kids to get all the support they need from education, health and social services. You might think that investing money in these areas might help especially in child and adolescent mental health, for instance, where waiting lists are rising at a rate of noughts rather than creating a universal state guardian whose role starts from the very wrong idea that all kids are at risk. It surely removes the focus on those who really are."

"The Scottish Government should perhaps look at the research done by the University of Central Lancashire out yesterday which showed that staff were wasting time on innocent families and possibly putting vulnerable children at risk by over-reporting to social services. One in five of all children born in 2009-10 in England were reported that’s 150,000 but only 25 per cent were formally investigated and of them only ten per cent led to protection plans."

"The named person legislation will undoubtedly lead down the same path."

Read more:

*The `head gardener` analogy came from the Children`s Parliament, a charity which receives a grant from the Scottish Government.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Children must learn about the EU

"Despite the lack of a formalised EU competency, education at the European level has been rapidly brought to the forefront of the EU agenda with a specific role in the Europe 2020 Strategy to improve Europe’s knowledge economy through education and training provisions. Apart from this, compared to other policy areas, education has seen little light when it comes to EU policy-making. However, the European Parliament has identified a new role for education, which was made public... in the form of the European Parliament Resolution of 12 April 2016 on Learning EU at School (2015/2138(INI))."

"The Resolution calls on the European Commission to continue to strengthen its activities in the field of education, particularly in the wide dissemination of information on the EU, as well as to provide a common framework and guidelines for learning about the EU."

The European Union has a distorted view of itself because it says that the EU is based on the rule of law: everything it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by its member countries. However, there is plenty of evidence to show that this is not the case.

Regardless, children will be encouraged to share the EU`s distorted view. In other words, there are going to be indoctrination programmes for children in European citizenship as well as global citizenship.

The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) was established in 1997.

Says the speaker in the video: "1993 was the year when the European Union was born. To us it had been sold as a political project. But these letters which we had found in December pointed in a totally different direction. The files showed that the ERT and the European Commission were meeting on a regular basis. It went on in complete secrecy. The ERT and the European Commission worked hand in hand."

The CEO published a report Europe, Inc.: Dangerous Liaisons between EU Institutions and Industry. "That report exposed the influence of industry lobbying on the new EU treaty being signed at that time. The report warned that lobby groups such as the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) and their influence over EU decision-making came at the expense of democracy and social and environmental concerns."

"ERT was credited with being the driving force behind a single European market by former Commission President, Jacques Delors. A 1985 ERT paper by Wisse Dekker, Europe 1990: An Agenda for Action, was sent to heads of state and government officials throughout Europe...The subsequent EC White paper, that the 1986 Single European Act was based on, closely followed ERT’s plan for a single market."

Their plan: "Adopt a single market, monetary union, infrastructure projects, a flexible labour market, deregulation; downsize public services, austerity measures, privatisation and so on - the whole neoliberalism agenda follows."

Dekker had written: "If you choose not to have a single market programme, then you have given us no choice but perhaps take our business elsewhere." [from telex discovered among other ERT documents]

"This was a clear threat. The ERT represented 60 percent of Western Europe`s industrial output. This was blackmail. Why did none of the elected representatives speak about this?"

Note: all documents referred to can be found via the World Wide Web.

Parents arrested for leaving children alone for short periods

"Parents who leave 15-year-old children alone for short periods are being arrested on suspicion of neglect, it has emerged."

"While the majority of cases involve infants, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, have revealed that some of those involved are as old as 15."

"At the moment law on the issue is vague with legislation simply stating that a parent or guardian can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health."

"There is no mention of what age it is deemed safe to leave a young person alone, so when matters are reported it is often left up to the individual officer to make a decision on whether to take action."

"With police action usually triggering intervention from the social services, campaigners are demanding more clarity so parents know where they stand."


"In 2004 Tim Haines from Worcestershire was arrested and charged with neglect after leaving his two-year-old daughter in his car for five minutes as he popped into a chemist."

"He was subsequently convicted at magistrate's court and faced a lengthy battle to stop his five children being taken into care."

"He eventually had the conviction overturned on appeal."

Liberia is seeking to outsource its primary school system

"Despite a long-standing public commitment to free education, Liberia recently made the controversial announcement that it is seeking to outsource its entire primary school system to a private provider."

"Education Minister of Liberia, George Werner, is planning an unprecedented public-private partnership (PPP) with US company Bridge International Academies (BIA). On the table is a five year contract worth 65 million to manage the country’s pre-primary and primary education system. If the partnership is pursued public funding will pay for BIA’s services and parents will have to fund 5 - 7 $ per term per child, excluding meals. This cost was found to be closer to 12$ to 20$ per child, entirely unaffordable for most poor households in Kenya and Uganda where BIA currently operates 400 nursery and primary schools."

"Bridge Academies delivers a highly structured, technologically driven model of education in which teachers deliver lessons from scripts on tablets. BIA asserts its approach offers students access to quality education they would otherwise not have, self-reporting significant gains in reading and maths attainment among their pupils. A one year pilot programme will be introduced in 70 Liberian schools come September 2016 before the half decade deal is struck. The pilot, not funded by the Liberian government, will be evaluated by an independent study after which the partnership may be discontinued."

"Bridge International Academies is ambitious, seeking to reach 10 million children in the coming decade. Powerful backers support their efforts including Bill Gates, the UKs Department for International Development (DfID), Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the World Bank, which wired the company 10 million dollars. This support was starkly criticized by civil society organisations across Kenya and Uganda, who have since cautioned Liberia not to sell what should be a public good. Likewise, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, characterised the decision to relinquish responsibility of public education to a commercially driven organisation as a `gross violation of the right to education` which undermines Liberia’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to free education. "

A bit of doublespeak from the UN there.

See also

Monday, 23 May 2016

Employers expected to spy on young workers

"Bosses in Scotland will be expected to spy on young adults at work after being drafted in to police the Named Person scheme. Employers are set to join taxi drivers among the ranks of those monitoring young people and reporting conversations back to their `state guardians`."

"The chilling move, part of the SNP`s controversial Named Person plan, has been attacked by business leaders."

"School leavers aged between 16 and 18 no longer have a Named Person at school but still fall within the scheme. Thirteen local authorities say bosses who hire these young adults can, or should, pass on their `concerns` to their Named Person."

"In an Orwellian statement, some said this is because every single person in Scotland has a responsibility or `duty` to report to the state guardians. The move follows revelations that more than 600 taxi drivers in the Borders who take young people to school have been instructed to pass on information about their welfare."

"David Watt, Scottish director of business group the Institute of Directors, said: `I am very concerned about this. Young people in Scotland aged 16 to 18 are allowed to vote and die for their country so, to a large extent, are adults. We don`t want any more red tape, also we don`t want to be seen as interfering in a young person`s life."

"`We understand the necessity of a duty of care for employees and would raise concerns if anyone was being mistreated or abused. However, I don`t think it should ever get to the point where an employer could be seen as to blame for not reporting concerns.`.."

"A spokesman for Scottish Borders Council said: `If a young person requires the services of a Named Person and they are currently employed by a company or organisation, then the Named Person would be working with the employer to best meet the needs of the young person.`.."

"Not all councils said that an employer had to contact a Named Person,, only that they could do so. Those who said employers could report concerns include Angus, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, Orkney, South Lanarkshire, Moray, Edinburgh and Falkirk councils."

"Several said that anyone could report concerns to a Named Person - or even that it was everyone`s duty to do so."

"Julie Muir, senior manager at East Ayrshire Council, said `If an employer has a concern over the welfare of an employee under the age of 18, which cannot be resolved by speaking personally with them, then flagging up that concern with their Named Person would be an appropriate course of action.`.."

A" Government spokesman said: `The local authority of residence will be required to make a Named Person available to those under 18 years who have left school and they will notify these individuals of how they can contact the services..."


"New Education Secretary John Swinney has said there will be no climbdown over state snoopers."

"He told a Sunday newspaper: `The health and wellbeing of children is at the heart of the Named Person discussion.`"

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Gordon Brown makes plea to Brexit backers

"The former Prime Minister will issue the pro-Brussels camp's latest desperate plea to Brexit backers during a speech in London. He is expected to claim around 500,000 new jobs can be created by opening up the single market further to British firms."

"He hopes the speech, at the Fabian Society's summer conference, will persuade Eurosceptic Labour supporters to vote Remain. Brown will say:"

"`My message to young people is that Europe still is the future for jobs, environmental sustainability and fairness. My message to mothers, worried about their children's future, is that the biggest job creator of the next decade will be Europe's single market. This shows why the future is not 'Britain leaving Europe to join the world', but joining with the rest of Europe to lead in the world.`"

And now for the pictures we don`t see on the BBC.

Premature babies are vaccinated in intensive care units

(NaturalNews) "Nearly two years ago, CDC senior scientist Dr William Thompson admitted publicly that he and colleagues omitted vital information from a 2004 report which indicated that African-American males who received the MMR vaccine before reaching three years old were more at risk for developing autism..."

"Now, another vaccine whistleblower has come forward to inform the public that she has witnessed vaccine injury daily while working as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)."

"In an interview
with InfoWars Nightly News, Michelle Rowton of Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines (NAMV), a group formed in 2012, and which opposes mandatory vaccinations, discussed a callous medical system influenced by money, which adheres strictly to the Center for Disease Control Prevention vaccine schedule, even when babies are born prematurely and have not yet grown to normal size, a practice that winds up harming many of them."

"`What a lot of people don't realize is that in a closed space like a NICU (pronounced NIK-you) is that they've decided that we need to vaccinate these babies on time, regardless of how undersized (from premature birth) they are`..."

"Rowton also said that NICU personnel would often receive calls from nursing staff on pediatric step-down units, warning them that two-month old premature babies would be getting their scheduled vaccines so NICU staff would need to have enough beds available, `because we all know they're going to have increased breathing difficulties, feeding and digestion difficulties, apnea [periods of no breathing] ... and bradycardia [slow heart rate]`."

"`This is what goes on,` Rowton added."

"In a
separate video, another nurse/vaccine whistleblower warned of flu and other vaccines being automatically offered as part of new hospital and government policy:"

Learn more:

Police are expecting 30,000 new child sex abuse complaints

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The unequal exam opportunities for Scottish children

Children playing in streets of Edinburgh 1950s
"Research by Reform Scotland has highlighted a wide variation in the maximum number of National 4 and 5s S4 pupils can sit..."

[A] " Freedom of Information question was submitted to each local authority in Scotland, asking what was the maximum number of Nationals S4 pupils could sit..."

"The answers highlighted that while in some schools pupils could sit up to eight exams, similar to the situation under the old Standard Grades, in other schools pupils were restricted to only five. This was regardless of ability or prospects of success..."

  "This is not an issue about ability, but one of opportunity. An able student at Braes High, for example, will almost certainly end up with fewer N5s than a similarly able student at Bearsden Academy, simply because they are not allowed to sit the same number of exams."

"This is likely to adversely affect those who leave a school that allows only 5 or 6 exam sittings at the end of fourth year, as they will probably end up with fewer exam results than they otherwise might if they attended a different state school. For those going on to study Highers, they have a smaller pool of subjects to choose or have to consider more crash Highers."
"Curriculum for Excellence was supposed to broaden pupils' education. Unfortunately, for some it is narrowing it, at least in the senior phase."

And so much for tackling the attainment gap by focusing on the early years.

David Healy - Hearts and Minds: Psychotropic Drugs and Violence

Mechanisms of antidepressant-induced violence

"A link between antidepressant use and violence needs a plausible clinical mechanism through which such effects might be realised. There are comparable data on increased rates of suicidal events on active treatment compared to placebo."

"In the case of suicide, several explanations have been offered for the linkage. It is argued that alleviating the motor retardation of depression, the condition being treated, might enable suicides to happen, but this cannot explain the appearance of suicidality in healthy volunteers."

"Mechanisms linking antidepressant treatment, rather than the condition, to adverse behavioural outcomes include akathisia, emotional disinhibition, emotional blunting, and manic or psychotic reactions to treatment. There is good evidence that antidepressant treatment can induce problems such as these and a prima facie case that akathisia, emotional blunting, and manic or psychotic reactions might lead to violence."

Friday, 20 May 2016

Nursery worker is facing jail

"A Cupar nursery worker is facing jail after being found guilty of two charges of assault at the town’s Busy Bee nursery."

"Caroline Bell had denied the assaults, committed between November 1 2013 and February 26 2014 at the nursery now known as Little Beehives."

"The nursery’s owners said they `fully supported` the police throughout the prosecution and that Bell had been sacked when the allegations came to light."

"Shocked co-workers told a trial at Dundee Sheriff Court that Bell had `joked` about the incidents - and `talked about it as if she was talking about what she had had for tea`."

"Sian Conway, 22, a former worker at the nursery, told a trial at Dundee Sheriff Court that she was the whistleblower who flagged up two specific incidents to bosses leading the cases to be reported to the police."

"She said: `I was working with Caroline - she was my senior`."

"`There was an incident involving one of the children on the climbing frame. The child had bitten another child and Caroline went over to deal with the situation. She picked him up off the climbing frame and had him upside down by the ankles`."

"Miss Conway wept as she told the court: `She walked him across the room, dangling him by the ankles all the way. Then she dumped him on the floor - she dropped him from stomach level, she just let him go`."

Read more:

Building stronger families ?


"Most people, when they find work think that they are safe, that they don`t have to worry about the Jobcentre anymore. They, quite rightly, feel that they have achieved a great goal and have found a job. Whether that job is a part time job or full time job it is what both themselves and the DWP want. They think that they won`t be monitored anymore, that they will be free to enjoy their life. All that will be changing once everyone is switched over to Universal Credit."

"Universal Credit will be taking over the Working Tax Credit, and Child Tax Credit element and therefore if you either work part time hours, or earn a low wage and have to top up with Working Tax Credit, Child Tax credit and Housing Benefit you will be forced to comply with in work conditionality..."

"According to the select committee report your employer will become a co-signer to your claimant commitment that you will be forced to sign, and adhere to once you are shifted over to Universal Credit..."

"What happened to the data protection act I hear you ask? Last year there was a cross party campaign, including Labour politicians to allow third parties access to your claimant information. They thought that this would be a good thing, and they thought this because it would allow agencies such as housing associations access to your claimant information so they could ‘help’ you."

"This will ensure that there will be no privacy for Universal Credit claimants."

"To make this very clear. Universal Credit claimants that are working have to be answerable to their ‘job coach’. They have to be seen to do adequate jobsearches and they have to prove that they are doing this, the same as unemployed Universal Credit claimants. The job searches on top of their working hours can range from 16-30 hours, depending on the hours that you have worked. The new powers will enable employers to become involved with this."

"They already have plans to move this scheme to higher earning claimants and will implement in work progression to those earning up to 20k to level it off to the benefit cap. In their words `If in work progression is such a good thing for the 1 million poorer workers, why not benefit the better off workers to the same conditionality?`"

"`We will treat working claimants with light touch conditionality.` Tell that to the workers that have already been sanctioned and are suffering, many with children."

An East Lothian pilot of the new Universal Credit system of benefits has been branded an `experiment in cruelty` by a local councillor.

Treatment for two year old limited to palliative care

"The parents of a 'profoundly neurologically disabled` two-year-old boy say they are `devastated` by a High Court judge's decision to allow medics to provide only palliative care."

"They said Mrs Justice Parker's ruling `effectively condemns their son to death`."

"NHS hospital bosses with responsibility for the boy's care had asked Mrs Justice Parker to rule that limiting treatment to palliative care would be lawful and in the best interests of the boy."

"Specialists said the little boy suffered from an incurable, but unidentified, neurological disorder - and that his condition was deteriorating."

"Nurses said he had stopped smiling and that he grimaced but no longer giggled when tickled."

"Specialists said 'further invasive interventions` would be distressing and burdensome for the little boy and would have little or no therapeutic benefit."

"The youngster's parents disagreed with the idea of providing only palliative care and implementing an '`end-of-life plan`."

"They said all treatment options should continue to be available."

"Mrs Justice Parker had overseen the case at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London and made a ruling on Wednesday."

"She said it was not in the little boy's best interests to `artificially prolong` his life."

"The judge said the little boy could not be identified."

"She said bosses at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust had asked her to make a ruling."

"Solicitor Kavi Mayor, who is based at Jung & Co Solicitors and represented the couple, said his clients were `devastated`."

"`They believe that the declarations made by the court effectively condemn their son to death,` said Mr Mayor after the hearing."

"They believe that their son's life is worth saving."

"He added: `They are particularly concerned that a prognosis has been given by the doctors when no firm diagnosis has been made`."

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Ambiguity piled on top of ambiguity: the Named Person scheme

"The row over a Named Person for every Scottish child ignited spectacularly on network TV last week during an edition of BBC Question Time."
"A member of the Aberdeen audience asked if the Named Person scheme represented `an unacceptable intrusion into family life`."
"David Dimbleby offered the mistaken explanation that; `By law every family will have to name someone outside the family to offer support or advice`."
"A panellist sort of corrected him; `you don’t name them, the state gives you one,` after which Dimbleby said, `I didn’t know that, it gets stranger and stranger,` before stating (again mistakenly), `So every child until 18 will have a social worker attached to them`."
"Scottish government minister Humza Yousaf tried to explain the system but finished with the alarmist claim that, `misconceptions could put children’s lives at risk`."
 And the misconceptions continue:
"Kezia Dugdale got closer to the nub of things by pointing out Named Persons aim to protect the kid who comes to school hungry, dirty or sleepy every other day..."
"Correct", says Leslie Riddoch.

Sorry, incorrect.

GIRFEC is the framework in which the Named Person will operate and that is about early intervention and prevention. It`s about `getting in there early` before things escalate to crisis level. Children who arrive at school hungry, dirty and sleepy are in crisis and teachers are already empowered to alert social services about these type of cases. In fact, everybody is.

She is also wrong to state that there will be no files containing relatively trivial problems being compiled on every child. It is the trivial problems - or just having a suspicion - that is the business of the Named Person. The files begin even before children are born. As the pilot For Highland Children states:
"Identifying the need for early intervention is important when planning care and can often prevent escalation or deterioration of a current situation. Therefore identifying risk and need in pregnancy is extremely important..."
"GIRFEC requires that each child should have a plan which considers their health and wellbeing. Within universal health services this plan is developed by the named person who is responsible for delivering a service to the child. In pregnancy that person is the woman’s named community midwife caseload holder who plans care for the woman and her baby with the wider maternity team as required, and records the details of this in the SWHMR."
"The aim of maternity care is to ensure whenever possible the best outcomes for mothers and babies. The most effective way to achieve this is through a process of continuous risk assessment to ensure evidence based high standards and quality care for all."
The pilot scheme lets us know that risk assessment of health and wellbeing for all, with reference to the physical, emotional and social determinants of health and wellbeing; is about as comprehensive as the data collection can get. And where does the data go? In the child`s file; to be passed on to the next Named Person, and then on to the next. How else can they put the jigsaw pieces together and get the bigger picture? GIRFEC`s words, not mine. However, it is important to know that a risk to wellbeing is a risk to a child`s future happiness. Because it is social services and Police Scotland who actually deal with child protection.
"Formalising the Named Person role [means] other professionals respond promptly to any request for assistance."
Assistance for what, and not so fast?
"Police Scotland warned that such a `significant change for all authorities including Police Scotland` could make it harder to identify at risk children."
When Police Scotland refer to `at risk` children they mean children at risk of significant harm. Given that Police Scotland is very much involved in child protection this is not a statement that should be dismissed so easily. Nor should wellbeing risks (whatever they really are)  be so easily confused with child protection issues. In other words, according to Police Scotland, what the Named Person will do is get in the way of identifying children at serious risk of harm.

As for mentioning the tragic case of Declan Hainey, as if the Named Person scheme would have made a difference, it is as well to recall what else  Sheriff Ruth Anderson had to say:
"I did not accept the submission made on behalf of Renfrewshire Council that the professional judgments which were made during the assessment process up to the post-birth meeting were ‘reasonable professional judgments’. Despite the lack of full information gathering, those involved in making those judgments were well aware of the history of the pregnancy, Kim Hainey’s complete failure to prepare for the birth of her child, her reluctance to cooperate in the assessment process itself, the fragility of family relationships, her chaotic drug history and the instability of her life and housing situation up until only a few weeks prior to the birth of Declan. They were aware of her consumption of alcohol on the day of her discharge from RAH on 29 January (to such an extent that she was smelling of alcohol the following day) and her refusal to accept the risks of such consumption while on a methadone programme, which had started only 6 days earlier. In addition, it was known that Kim Hainey refused to stay in for the first visit by Hugh Madden on 21 February 2008, despite the risk of her losing care of her child being explained to her by Hazel Martin. Had reasonable professional judgment been exercised, then Child Protection measures would have been taken." No child protection measures were ever taken and this was a group of professionals who specialised in the field of drug addiction.

As I`ve said elsewhere just because a group of specialists fail to follow protocols and exercise reasonable judgment does not mean that a Named Person should be foisted on every child in Scotland. Far from it, it looks like it is specialist workers who are overstretched while resources are being squandered building up data files on ALL children.  

And now for another misconception:

"The Act puts children`s rights into law as a responsibility for all public bodies to uphold - even if that means going against the wishes of parents - and creates a new duty on councils and health boards to collaborate in how they deliver children`s services. Supporters say it`s a pioneering bit of legislation that creates universal rights."
On the contrary, the Named Person scheme tramples over children`s right to privacy and exploits them before they are mature enough to have a voice. Who else but parents fight for their children`s rights? Let us not forget the likes of Ashya King. By weakening the child/parent relationship, the Scottish state can hold parents to ransom and inflict any intervention it likes on any family it chooses. A nastier and more tyrannical piece of legislation, it is hard to imagine.

For those who want to research the topic, the Scottish Conservatives have a recent post about the Named Person policy with a lot of documented criticism about the scheme.

New prison and courts reform bill

"The government has announced the `biggest shake-up of prisons since Victorian times`. But while the media focuses on iPads for prisoners` and `weekend inmates`, the real story is in the handling of new financial powers to prison governors, allowing them `unprecedented levels of control over all aspect of prison management`. The government is using the academies model to privatise our prisons through the back door - and the results will be just as disastrous for prisons as they have been for schools."

"In the Queen`s speech on Wednesday, the government announced its new prison and courts reform bill. At the heart of the bill is the creation of several new `autonomous reform prisons` which, says the government:"
`will give unprecedented freedoms to prison governors, including financial and legal freedoms, such as how the prison budget is spent and whether to opt-out of national contracts; and operational freedoms over education, the prison regime, family visits, and partnerships to provide prison work and rehabilitation services.`

The academisation of prisons

"If all of this sounds familiar, that`s because it is. The reforms are based on the academies model, as David Cameron admitted in a speech he made about the reforms in February of this year."

"It`s exactly what we did in education - with academies, free schools and new freedoms for heads and teachers`."
Huffington Post
"They were even introduced by the same man, Michael Gove. As Education Secretary in 2010, Gove said: `We trust teachers and headteachers to run their schools.` Now, as Justice Secretary, he says: `By trusting governors to get on with the job, we can make sure prisons are places of education, work and purposeful activity.`"

"As with academies, the introduction of reform prisons will be rolled out gradually. Six prisons will be turned into reform prisons by the end of this year. More prisons will follow later this parliament, and the government`s nine new super-prisons will also `be established with similar freedoms`."

"And, as with academies, the prison reforms will open up commercial opportunities for those in charge of them. Prison governors will have `unprecedented operational and financial autonomy`, says David Cameron. They will be given `total discretion over how to spend` their budgets. They will be able to opt-out of national contracts and choose their own suppliers`. And, just to be clear,`we`ll ensure there is a strong role for businesses and charities in the operation of these Reform Prisons`."

"We know what happened when academies were handed power over their own budgets and contracts. They used that power to pay themselves millions in taxpayers` money - both on their own salaries and on contracting out services to companies they or their families own. And now the government seems to have gone to some effort to replicate that experience in reform prisons, by establishing them `as independent legal entities with the power to enter into contracts; generate and retain income and establish their own boards with external expertise`."

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The early years matter to policy makers

The Early Years Matter – FACT. That is according to Professor Susan Deacon`s independent report which by some extraordinary coincidence apes many other independent reports globally.
"The period before birth and in the early months and years of life has a profound impact on a child’s life, on their physical, mental and emotional development and, in turn, their life chances. Our intuition tells us that. A vast body of research and evidence proves it beyond doubt. So investing our time, energy and resource in a child’s Early Years makes sense – for the individual, the family, society and the economy."
"We know - not think, but KNOW - that a greater focus and investment on Early Years and early intervention - particularly where a child’s needs are greatest - provides a real prospect of turning this situation around. If we don’t act now, if we just do more of the same, we will simply stack up problems for the future."
There is no evidence to support this way of KNOWING.  If the `Solihull approach rap` sounds ridiculous, that is because it is. Yet the Named Person is expected to accept the myth of the first three years without question.
"Challenging the prevailing myth-heralded by the national media, Head Start, and the White House-that the most crucial brain development occurs between birth and age three, Bruer explains why relying on the zero to three standard threatens a child's mental and emotional well-being far more than missing a few sessions of toddler gymnastics. Too many parents, educators, and government funding agencies, he says, see these years as our main opportunity to shape a child's future. Bruer agrees that valid scientific studies do support the existence of critical periods in brain development, but he painstakingly shows that these same brain studies prove that learning and cognitive development occur throughout childhood and, indeed, one's entire life."

Read more

New laws will encourage adoption

"The government is to pass new laws to encourage adoption in a bid to improve the chances of children in social care in England, David Cameron has said."

"Writing in the Sunday Times, the PM promised `zero tolerance` of state failure around social care and a new covenant for those leaving care."

"New laws will encourage the permanent adoption of children, even when it overrides family ties, he added."

Researching Reform has discovered a piece of research that suggests a more cautious approach to permanence should be implemented.

Andreia`s battle to regain her children

Diaspora Românească, April 26th, 2016

"In 2009 a UK judge decided to take away her children. Andreia has ever since struggled to get them back. She says she was humiliated, threatened and even arrested for just trying to get a glimpse of her kids. British authorities required her not to talk publicly about her case if she ever wants to see them again."
"But, after widespread international support for Bodnariu family, who also have Romanian ties and who have been going through the same ordeal in Sweden*, Andreia decided her only hope is that the rest of the world finds out about her nightmare... "

"Andreia has tried to get them back but with no success. She has tearfully declared to Diaspora Românească: `These professionals said themselves that my husband was dangerous, lying and manipulative, but they did not take into account the fact that I was also one of his victims. I paid for my own psychological counselling sessions. My counsellor wrote a favourable report on my progress and my ability to protect my children. But this report, as many others, was not taken into account by the court of law when I asked to be given back my children. In the meantime I remarried a young man my own age who loves me and understands me. He stood by me in my fight to regain custody of my children. Both my husband Alex and me have proven we have everything needed to raise these children. But each time we met with the authorities’ refusal`."
"The girls were put into an English family. The boy was taken to an orphanage, where he suffered physical and emotional abuse from the older boys. `The law says my boy should not have been taken to that place, because he was too young. He was harassed and his behaviour was negatively impacted, but the police say there is no sufficient evidence. He was just recently moved to the care of a man who really takes care of him. I have all the respect for this man who helps my child, he’s a true man`, added Andreia."

*Not Sweden, but Norway

Monday, 16 May 2016

Social workers failed to challenge independent report

"A failure to challenge an independent social worker’s report was a key error in a case where a father beat his four-year-old daughter to death after she was sent to live with him."

"The serious case review into the murder of Alexa-Marie Quinn, called Sophie in the report, found social workers in Bedford were confused about the status and function of the court-ordered report and so did not challenge it."

"Social workers also felt unable to delay the case when new concerns emerged because the care proceedings had already exceeded the 26-week target for cases to be decided."

"Bedford Council put Quinn and her siblings into foster care in March 2012 due to their mother’s chaotic lifestyle, substance misuse and domestic violence at home."

"When care proceedings began Quinn’s father, Carl Wheatley who lived in Hertfordshire, said he wanted to be his daughter’s carer. While assessments of his suitability took place, contact was established between him and his daughter for the first time since shortly after her birth..."

"The court appointed an independent social worker to assess Wheatley’s parenting capacity."

"But the letter of instruction for the independent social worker’s report did not include all the concerns raised in Bedford’s initial assessment of Wheatley despite being approved by social services and the Cafcass children’s guardian."

It was only going to be a matter of time before the 26 week target was going to cause serious problems.

The brain drain in and out of the United States

Sharp and to the point. But misses a few other essentials.

The United States has sucked in the best brains from around the world to do research and innovate in their universities, funded by their taxpayers who happen to be the the middle and working classes. It was great while their companies were actually producing in the United States and taxpayers had some sort of return on their investment.

But now those companies from the US who have actually benefited* from the universities have invested in other countries while hiring great lawyers to ensure they do not pay taxes themselves. In other words they are a constant drain on the country.

*See changing trends between use of benefitted/benefited

Saturday, 14 May 2016

High Court rules in favour of dad

"A High Court ruling supporting a dad who took his child on holiday in term time could pave the way for other parents to do the same."

"Jon Platt refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter to Florida."

"He said it was the principle rather than the cost as he believed he shouldn’t be criminalised when his six-year-old had regular attendance during the rest of the year."

"The issue of the fine, which was originally £60 and then doubled because of his refusal to pay, went before the Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court in October last year."

"Mr Platt won his case, but the local authority appealed the decision in the High Court - and top judges ruled in the dad’s favour."

"On Friday, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mrs Justice Thirlwall dismissed the council’s challenge, ruling that the magistrates had `not erred in law` when reaching their decision."

Let Glasow`s children flourish through adoption and fostering

I do not think it is appropriate to have these messages displayed outside primary schools.

`FOSTER AND ADOPT - grow your family tree.`

It is bad enough that young children are taught to see the Named Person  as the head gardener but these banners promoting adoption and fostering are taking the plant analogy to a whole new low.

See how children are represented as grafts on the plant. [Cutting, forcing, healing: that`s all part of the process.]

There`s a subliminal message for parents too.

Students do better without digital devices

"Allowing students to use computers and the internet in classrooms substantially harms their results, a study has found."

"The paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students barred from using laptops or digital devices in lectures and seminars did better in their exams than those allowed to use computers and access the internet."

"The researchers suggested that removing laptops and iPads from classes was the equivalent of improving the quality of teaching."

"The study divided 726 undergraduates randomly into three groups in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. The control group’s classrooms were `technology-free,` meaning students were not allowed to use laptops or tablets at their desk. Another group was allowed to use computers and other devices, and the third group had restricted access to tablets."

"`The results from our randomised experiment suggest that computer devices have a substantial negative effect on academic performance,` the researchers concluded, suggesting that the distraction of an electronic device complete with internet access outweighed their use for note-taking or research during lessons."

"The research had an unusual twist: the students involved were studying at the West Point academy in the US, where cadets are ruthlessly ranked by exam results, meaning they were motivated to perform well and may have been more disciplined than typical undergraduates."

"But even for the cream of the US army’s future crop, the lure of the digital world appears to have been too much, and exam performance after a full course of studying economics was lower among those in classes allowed to use devices."

"`Our results indicate that students perform worse when personal computing technology is available. It is quite possible that these harmful effects could be magnified in settings outside of West Point,` the researchers concluded."

"In a learning environment with lower incentives for performance, fewer disciplinary restrictions on distracting behaviour, and larger class sizes, the effects of internet-enabled technology on achievement may be larger due to professors’ decreased ability to monitor and correct irrelevant usage."

BBC Question Time: Named Person scheme discussed

The panellists are David Mundell MP, Humza Yousaf MSP, Kezia Dugdale MSP, Jim Sillars and Merryn Somerset Webb.

Subsidy Sam livens up windfarm debate

"Tommy the Turbine has a fictional rival to liven up the debate about windfarms. A leading Highland objector has created `Subsidy Sam` to challenge a character used by the industry."

"Sam highlights the massive public subsidies used to finance the technology. Beauly-based Lyndsey Ward, who ... published her story online, claims youngsters have been `indoctrinated` by a host of school activities including visits to windfarms."

"`Tommy the Turbine` is already online and been used in schools in Ireland. She said: `What`s been happening is similar to what fast food and fizzy drink makers did previously - sponsoring school sports equipment and leaving us with an obesity epidemic."

"The wind industry goes into schools in Scotland and never is the other side of the story told. Youngsters are being brainwashed into thinking we`d be doomed without windfarms. It`s a cynical ploy to keep the subsidies flowing into the next generation."

"Caithness campaigner Reanda Herrick successfully fought to have turbines removed from schoolgrounds after a series of incidents involving faulty towers."

"She said: `They never tell children how turbines chop up birds, or about the thousands of trees felled to make way for windfarms or how often blades fly off, or tell children in poor households why their parents can`t afford their energy bills.`"