Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Charities: the eyes and ears of the community

From UK Column News on Monday:

"Let`s move into this little area because if we want to know what the changes are for society, the government is now telling us very clearly. This was released in the last couple of days from the House of Lords: Stronger charities for a stronger society. I wonder what the comment of child abuse survivors would be to that statement in its raw form. Because many of those people say - well they laugh - if you mention the names of the charities NSPCC or Barnardo`s, but here we are, Stronger charities for a stronger society."

"It says: `We are living through a time of profound economic, social and technological change and the environment in which charities are working is altering dramatically. We do not believe that this is a temporary aberration: such disruptive changes are likely to become the norm`."

Brian Gerrish underlines the statement `such disruptive changes are likely to become the norm`.

"Well that`s very interesting. How do they know that Mike? And this is unlikely to be a temporary aberration: such disruptive changes are likely to become the norm."

Mike Robinson: "They can only know that because that is the intention."

"That is the intention and it`s ... only the UK Column that`s pointed out that people are talking about the need to have disruptors in society and we featured some time ago the Ted video ... with a man from Barnet Council - who talks about future government and the fact that we need more disruptors in order to get the necessary changes through."

"So here we`ve got the policy, the policy is of disruption in order to get the government`s change agenda through. What`s the change agenda? Well luckily this Baroness is going to tell us. So here we are: Baroness Pitkeathley and here are some of her comments in respect to the report."

"Charities are the eyes, ears and conscience of society says Lords Select Committee... we need `Stronger charities for a stronger society`..."

"Wouldn`t it be the case that if you have a strong society you wouldn`t need charities because you wouldn`t have people who are poor or suffering or ..."

"That`s absolutely true. Charities are the eyes and ears of society, Brian?"

"Did that remind you of anything?"

"Well are charities replacing GCHQ, is that what`s going on?"

"Well I think that`s part of it. But eyes, ears...certainly made my ears prick up because I remembered this."

"This is Leeds Advisory Group for Common Purpose. This is the meeting going back to 25 July 2006. And just for an indication, here is a charity Common Purpose - we often say this is an oxymoron because of course they`re a political charity. Here are the sorts of people Common Purpose were bringing together. So we`ve got a Regional Director of Common Purpose. We`ve got a Divisional Chief Superintendent from West Yorkshire Police. We`ve got newspapers. We`ve got the university. We`ve got the Council. We`ve got businesses; we`ve got people from the Education sector all meeting behind closed doors under Chatham House rules of secrecy."

"So the two that really stick out are the policeman and the newspaper man because those two organisations should be kept separate from any of this nonsense."

"Indeed. So separation of powers gone out of the window, under the control of a political charity. Why were we so interested? Because in this particular meeting, well it was this statement:"

1. Introduction of new Advisory Group Members

The group and new Advisory Group members were welcomed and introductions were made.

2. Purpose of Advisory Group

Claire went through the advisory briefing pack and reiterated that they are not a board, but the eyes and ears of Common Purpose, Leeds, and will feed key business information to the director. They are there to assist with recruitment, by spreading the word, putting their own staff on programmes and making decisions on accepting participants for matrix. The Advisory Group should also act as a support in localising the content of the curriculum for matrix.

"So think of those orders being given to the very senior policeman there. Because his job is not to be a policeman it`s to work for business information for Common Purpose. And what do we see here? An excellent look into very very dangerous activity by the charity Common Purpose but of course this is mirrored across many other charities as we see."

"Here`s the lady Claire Bennett. You can find her on the Common Purpose website and according to the information she`s very experienced."

"Design and delivery of leadership development courses in West and North Yorkshire."

"Design and delivery of courses for emerging leaders in the north... Youth courses. On it goes. So I don`t know where she got all this experience - she`s been working for Common Purpose for years but this is the lady who was simply pointing at a policeman - a senior policeman - and saying this is what you will do in order to support Common Purpose."

"So let`s come back to the Baroness and see what else she had to say:"

"She said: `Charities are the lifeblood of society. They play a fundamental role in our civil life and do so despite facing a multitude of challenges. Yet for them to continue to flourish, it is clear that they must be supported and promoted`."

"So what`s coming here? Well it`s pretty simple because if you`re a charity you`re not going to be allowed to act as a charity unless the government is supporting and monitoring you`."

"She says: `We found that charities lead the way with innovation, but that this is at risk of being stifled by the `contract culture`. And while advocacy is a sign of a healthy democracy, and is a central part of charities` role, this role has been threatened by Government`."

"Now this is itself an interesting statement. What she`s getting at is the fact that many big charities: Barnardo`s, NSPCC, for example, are now doing the work of government. So they are running contracts. They are no longer effectively charities in the sense that most of us would remember. So big contracts she says are causing charities problems."

"So running on through: `We hope that charities will be encouraged by this report; that the Government will respect their role; and that in addition it will value the connections charities have with all sections of society, and encourage the vital scrutiny they provide`."

"So what we`re interested in here Mike is the fact that the charity sector - that`s about 167,000 charities in UK representing well over £44 billion - those charities affect everyone. They affect local communities, very small communities -  the government now getting the control in through those charities."

"So what Baroness Pitkeathley is expressing here echoes what
Priti Patel was talking about last week where they`re going to fund particularly smaller charities; they`re going to give them grants. But in order to achieve that grant funding they have to agree to special training."


"And of course that is control."

"So Mike`s hit that absolutely on the button. So let`s just put a few things together. This itself was reported by Third Sector magazine, very good article. I encourage people to go and have a look at it. And it says that basically charities are going to be encouraged to report to government on how they perform and they`re going to be encouraged as Mike says to do training for the government. So why should we be interested in all this? Well in that article this is one of the organisations mentioned: the New Philanthropy Capital and they say: `We have seen our approach adopted and adapted as far afield as Brazil, Germany, Sweden and Israel."

"So we now get a clue that this is not UK internal policy - there`s something much deeper here - and why would we be interested with New Philanthropy Capital?  Well if we look at who created it, it`s Goldman Sachs the very same bank that`s helping the British army to train at the moment, alongside Barclays."

"Let`s have a look at another aspect of this article because we`ve got Power to Change mentioned... we`ve got a gentleman called Christopher Stephens. He was chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission. So we`ve got a nice mix here Mike. One minute we`re talking about charities. We then have a look at the interests of the senior people involved and they`re busy appointing judges and at the same time they`re part of the Salaries Review Board for the top Civil Service Commissioners who are going to give them the money through the government in the first place. But there`s no conflict of interest, luckily."

"None at all."

"So what else can we add to this one? Well in the article it also mentions Lloyds Bank Foundation with community businesses to revive local assets, protect services people rely on and address local needs."

"Is that assets in the sense of intelligence gathering?"

"I think that`s exactly what`s going on. They`re trying to get people to believe they`re going to be helping the local children`s football team that needs some help refurbishing their ground but if you have a look at what`s going on here it`s massive data collection."

"And we shouldn`t be surprised because of course it was this gentleman Eric Pickles who said: `We are going to shake up the balance of power in this country. We are going to change the nature of the constitution. Now he said that alone; no debate... He said he was going to be a revolutionary -  and the revolution starts here.`"

"So what we are really seeing coming in now is this central core of Big Society. This diagram we did years ago but it showed the change agents driving through the third sector to produce this Common Purpose based Big Society and this is going to be - well you talked about this the other day Mike - well this is Theresa May. She`s calling it the shared society but it`s exactly the same thing just using slightly different language."

"Again this is constitutional change, localism. OK the Localism Bill has gone through and become the Localism Act. That`s quite constrained and limited whereas most of this change seems to be pretty much unlimited and no real debate in parliament about what this change is about or where it`s taking us... "

"And this is because there is effectively no Westminster. We simply have the Cabinet Office with its special advisers driving policy."


See also Imagining the future

Operation Conifer has identified more than 30 alleged victims

"A force has rebuffed claims that it will shortly wrap up an investigation into allegations that former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath sexually abused children..."

"A spokesperson said: `Wiltshire Police would like to reassure persons who have come forward as part of this inquiry that any announcements about the progress and/or conclusion of this investigation will be made by formal announcement by the police as and where appropriate`."

"`At the conclusion of the investigation a confidential closing report will be written`."

"`We have briefed the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and on completion of the investigation we will make available to them our report such that they can consider it relative to the terms of reference of the public inquiry`..."

"Allegations against Sir Edward first surfaced during Operation Midland, the Metropolitan Police Service’s inquiry into claims high-profile figures sexually abused young children."

"As part of part of Operation Conifer launched in 2015 to examine claims against him specifically Wiltshire Police has so far identified more than 30 alleged victims."

"Last month the force reassured the public that the investigation is under `no risk` of stopping despite senior investigating officer Superintendent Sean Memory taking sick leave and facing a misconduct inquiry."

"It also warned that media speculation about the investigation risks undermining officers’ efforts and damaging Sir Edward’s reputation."

"Another paper had reported that Chief Constable Mike Veale believed `120 per cent` that the allegations against Sir Edward were correct."

"However, Mr Veale stressed that the police do not judge people’s guilt or innocence, adding: `Our role is to objectively and proportionately go where the evidence takes us`."

Video message from Wiltshire Police

"Mike Veale, Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, has today (Friday 2 December 2016) published an open letter video message in relation to the ongoing national investigation into allegations of non-recent child abuse made against Sir Edward Heath (Operation Conifer)."

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Parents are arrested on suspicion of neglect

"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."

"Former MP John Hemming of the group Justice for Families, said parents risked being criminalised because they had no idea what the law was and how it was being applied."

Future ready schools

Published on 26 Mar 2017

Talk by Alison McDowell on `Future Ready Schools: What Silicon Valley Has Planned for Public Education` recorded March 25, 2017 at the Lake City Library in Seattle, WA.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The lucky primary school teacher who never got caught

"Like Reid and her Northern Irish friend Michaella McCollum, Mairi found herself involved in the Peruvian drug industry. Unlike Reid and McCollum Mairi ... never got caught."

"In fact she made enough money to buy a two bedroom house in Glasgow’s well-heeled West End."

"It's been five years since she left Peru, and she's about to qualify as a primary school teacher..."

"Prison never really scared her: `At the time prison seemed like the least scary option. Peru wasn’t very friendly to a little white girl selling drugs`."

"Mairi decided to leave Peru and come back home when a new government made it more restrictive for foreigners to run businesses."

"Mairi makes clear she is not recommending life as a drug dealer in Latin America."

"`It makes an interesting story, but no. An enormous part of it was how lucky I was`."

"The political situation has changed since she was there."

It`s not a pleasant story.

Potential named person ?

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Investigation into former PM Sir Edward Heath

"A £1 million ($1.25mn) taxpayer funded child abuse investigation into former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath has been closed by police, reportedly due to a lack of evidence."

"The inquiry, codenamed Operation Conifer, will be closed in the coming weeks, but the report on its findings will remain confidential, the Telegraph reports."

"The huge bill has been criticized as a waste of taxpayer money since it was launched in August of 2015. Police have also been slammed for damaging the reputation of the late ex-PM, who cannot go on trial."

"According to sources who spoke to the newspaper, private investigators that were hired by police to help conduct the inquiry have been told that their contracts will not be renewed..."

"Friends of Heath, who died in 2005 aged 89, insist that the inquiry found no evidence implicating the Tory politician, saying the questions police put to his former staff members and sailing friends were so lacking in detail that there appeared to be no hard evidence."

"The investigation was launched after at least seven allegations of child sex abuse were brought against Heath, including one claiming that the former Tory MP abused a boy on his yacht before throwing him overboard."

"Heath was also examined in a now defunct investigation into a suspected VIP paedophile ring at the heart of Westminster dubbed Operation Midland."

So that is RT reporting on the Telegraph report.

The UK Column News took the story up on Tuesday 21 March by referring to the Mail on Sunday and calling it a false article. [about 42.27 minutes] The investigation into former PM Sir Edward Heath has NOT been closed.

"A source for UK Column spoke to the police who said this was not true," Gerrish informed viewers. "So we have something that the police are saying is untrue but then we notice this in another Daily Mail article:"
"Yesterday, Lord Armstrong, the former Cabinet Secretary and Sir Edward`s principal private secretary from 1970 to 1974, said: `I simply don`t understand how the Chief Constable got himself into such a position.`"

"So the Daily Mail are helping the former Private Secretary of Mr Heath to gently undermine the police investigation."

Brian Gerrish points to another article in the Mail in Scotland from a couple of years ago which reports:  "`Mandarin who can`t help being economical with truth: Lord Armstrong at centre of accusations of child abuse cover-up.`  And basically what this story is about is this gentleman working with MI5 -  bring in the security services again - and what were they doing?  They were pushing the child abuse under the carpet in order to protect the state."

"So this is some of the comment from that article:"

"Lord Armstrong - who was Margaret Thatcher`s Cabinet Secretary for eight years - is now at the centre of accusations of a major establishment cover-up of child abuse by leading public figures in the 1970s and 1980s."

"It has been revealed that he was urged by MI5 to help hush-up abuse allegations against a senior MP so as to avoid political embarrassment for the Thatcher government."

"Even today, despite years of official investigations into the claims and a top-level review into the loss of hundreds of Home Office files relating to the original allegations, Armstrong defiantly refuses to identify the suspect politician or even say if he is alive or dead."

"So I`m going to put a label on that and say: why does the Daily Mail want to use this man to help undermine a police child abuse investigation?"

"Any clues Mike?"

"And indeed they seem to be undermining their own reporters. There`s a difference...between the Daily Mail and the Mail in Scotland."


Gerrish then reads from a letter by Robert Green to Mr Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail.

"With regard to previous correspondence, I was disturbed to read today of yet another attack on Chief Constable Mike Veale by your crime correspondent, Rebecca Camber."

"It was of great concern on two counts."

"First, the article quotes the opinion of Lord Armstrong, who clearly seeks to undermine the competence of the Chief Constable. It was a curious choice by Ms Camber to quote Lord Armstrong as less than two years ago, the Scottish Daily Mail published a withering attack on this individual for his apparent attempts to cover up child abuse by another senior Conservative MP, Sir Peter Morrison. I am sure that your readers may have formed a different view of Lord Armstrong`s attack on the Chief Constable had details of the Mail`s earlier article been revealed."

"Secondly and possibly even more seriously, Wiltshire Police has confirmed that the Daily Mail has indulged in fake news: the investigation into Edward Heath has not been called off."

In the next paragraph there is a reminder that Tim Fortescue MP, Chief Whip to Edward Heath, admitted covering-up for Members of Parliament who were child abusers.

"Finally, I have provided expert witness evidence regarding Edward Heath and others that has been accepted by Wiltshire Police. Included in those named are two of your most senior journalists."

"The reputation of your newspapers could hardly be at more risk over this issue. I trust that the readers will be treated to more balanced and truthful journalism over this issue in future."



21 March is World Down Syndrome Day

It was not forgotten by the UK Column team that there has been no support for Hollie Greig, the down syndrome girl who was abused in Aberdeenshire.


Former mayor admits abusing 4-year-old child

"Former mayor of Hubbard, Ohio (D) Richard Keenan has admitted in court to raping a young child, as President Trump’s urgent investigation into the elite pedophile ring that has infiltrated Washington D.C. and politics nationwide continues taking down high-profile perpetrators."

"Keenan previously blamed the 4-year-old victim for initiating the acts, describing her as a `willing participant`. He is now facing life behind bars."

"The Youngstown Vindicator reports that according to court documents, the victim told Keenan’s wife about the sexual abuse that began when she was 4-years-old and lasted for three years."

When Keenan’s wife confronted him about the allegations, he responded, `I did it.`"

"The Democrat mayor also confessed to the allegations to his pastor, a social worker and his brother and sister-in-law, according to documents filed by the assistant prosecutor."

Missing children are inappropriately categorised

"A charity has called for police forces to improve their handling of missing children cases after it emerged some are inappropriately categorising those who are missing from care as `absent`. "

"Railway Children is concerned about the way some police forces deal with instances of children going missing from care."

"Railway Children is concerned by the findings of a National Crime Agency report around the potential misuse of this lesser categorisation, which indicates the missing person is not at risk."

"The report, which looks at 2015/16 missing persons data, found that while some forces label all cases involving children with the higher priority category of `missing` this is not the case nationwide."

"Andy McCullogh, Railway Children's policy and public affairs director, said: `It is worrying that the NCA report has identified some police forces to be still inappropriately classing all missing children from care only as absent, meaning the child is at ‘no apparent risk', when the reality is they could be at serious risk of harm."

"A quick and accurate assessment of risk is essential to ensuring vulnerable children get the help they need at the right time..."

"While Surrey had stopped using this lesser category for children, this policy was reversed during 2015/16."

"Last year HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found
that most police forces did not have a good understanding of the problem of missing children in their area. This also found that cases where children were categorised as `absent` received far less attention."

"Ofsted has previously raised concerns
about a rise in the number of children going missing from foster care."

According to Seligman, big data is better than wellbeing surveys

"At the World Government Summit, big data made its debut in the Happiness Movement with Martin Seligman."

"Seligman opened his keynote speech with `Happiness is a plausible goal for our planet.` He went on to say `Happiness is the most you can expect for yourself, for your nation, and for the world.` He announced his preference for big data for use by governments. Seligman gave four reasons he feels that big data is a better source for information about a population's happiness and well-being than survey-based data. Survey based data, and subjective well-being indicators, are being used by the governments of Bhutan and the United Kingdom to inform public policy, and over 40 countries are now measuring the happiness and well-being of their people using surveys)."

"The four reasons Seligman gave are that measuring big data is non-reactive, unobtrusive, huge samples, and less gameable than questionnaires."

"Non-reactive means that the subject does not know they are being observed or that data is being gathered about them. The idea is that there is no interaction between the observer and the subject - the person from whom the data is being gathered. Unobtrusive, an aspect of non-reactivity, means the subject is not being directly asked, unlike in an interview or online questionnaire. Less gameable means the subject is less likely to lie, misrepresent or distort the truth. A huge sample size means lots of people provided data. A sample size is generally determined to be large or small relative to the population it represents..."

"Seligman used twitter and facebook for the big data examples given in his talk. He suggests that data collected from facebook and twitter are unobtrusive The question of whether a facebook, twitter or other social media user understands that they are being observed by parties other than those they choose (their facebook friends, twitter followers, or linked-in connections) and whether a user understands that their data is being gathered is not clear."

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Government urged to abandon moves to bring back Named Person

Scott Machae

"The government has been urged to abandon moves to bring back plans for a named person for all children in Scotland."

"The controversial scheme was derailed when the UK Supreme Court ruled the legislation was not competent over the prospect of personal data being widely shared among schools, the NHS and social workers."

"Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars warned yesterday that education secretary John Swinney will face a backlash from Scottish parents if he presses ahead with plans to revise the plans and reintroduce them next year."

"Instead he said the Deputy First Minister should `do a Hammond` and ditch the plans as Chancellor Philip Hammond did with his controversial National Insurance hike for the self-employed in the recent Budget. Speaking at a conference organised by the No to Named Persons group (NO2NP), Mr Sillars also encouraged campaigners to lobby SNP backbenchers to defy ministers over fresh legislation aimed at getting the scheme up and running next year."

"He said: `My advice would be to do a Hammond. Last week the government at Westminster was in a hole. It had the brains to stop digging and my advice to this government is this isn`t going to work`."

Monday, 20 March 2017

International world happiness day

UN indoctrination programme gets a green flag


"We are also celebrating Scotland becoming the first country worldwide to award 2,000 Eco-Schools Green Flags in the largest global sustainable schools programme."

"For more than two decades we have managed the international Eco-Schools programme in Scotland, engaging with 98.5% of our schools. And Scotland has achieved a number of firsts under the sustainability programme, being the first country to include fully integrated Learning for Sustainability into the curriculum and linking the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the Eco-Schools programme."

The multilateral Investment Court

"More than 280 000 citizens from across Europe have signed a petition against the plan, known as the 'multilateral investment court'."

"The Multilateral Investment Court would create a global court exclusively available to foreign investors to sue governments. According to the EU’s proposal investors could go to the new court using existing investment treaties which have proven to be dangerous to public policies aimed at protecting people and the environment."

The proposal for MIC and the drive for profit before people does expose the push for global happiness and wellbeing as the piece of nonsense it is.

Monsanto promotes the benefits of GM crops to the UK

Colin Todhunter [before the Glasgow visit]
"Monsanto is preparing a fresh effort to promote genetically modified (GM) crops to the UK public, according to a piece in the Scottish Farmer. The article notes the company recently appointed former World Bank communications strategist Vance Crowe as its ‘Director of Millenial Engagement’, a job that involves convincing the public about the benefits of GM."

"In March, Vance will be in the UK to give a series of talks, including one in Glasgow as a guest of Glasgow Skeptics, an organisation committed to `promoting science and critical thinking.` However, according to the article, it seems that organiser Brian Eggo may have already made up his mind on GM. He talks about public fear of GM having held back the technology and says the ban on the growing of GM crops in Scotland was a decision based more on ideology than any actual risk to public health..."

"When he visits the UK, perhaps Vance Crowe would like to address the people of Wales and say something about the poisoning of the population that his company has played a major part in. However, the standard company defence mechanism is to try to convince people that the ‘new’ Monsanto is not like the ‘old’ Monsanto, even though Dr Rosemary Mason shows that Welsh adults and children continue to suffer and the company still profits from the massive amounts of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) being sprayed there." 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Enhancing the gene pool while cutting future spending

"School officials in Palo Alto have unanimously voted to rename two middle schools that bear the names of leaders in the eugenics movement."

"The Mercury News reports the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education voted Friday 5-0 to rename Jordan Middle School, which is named after David Starr Jordan, and Terman Middle School, which is named after Lewis Terman."

"Terman was a former Stanford psychologist and Jordan was an accomplished scientist and Stanford's founding president."

"Both were members of the Human Betterment Foundation, a group that believed the human race could be improved through selective reproduction including forced sterilization."

"Pressure to change the schools' names started after a seventh-grade student at Jordan Middle School wrote a book report on Jordan and shared what he had learned about the school's namesake."

"7,000 men, women and children determined by social workers to be feeble minded or promiscuous were sterilised usually without their consent and it was perfectly legal..."
"Their reasons were based on a scientific theory called eugenics which became popular in the 1920s. Eugenicists believed that poverty, promiscuity and alcoholism were inherited traits. It was a simple theory with a radical solution. Sterilize those the state would have to take care of, and improve society`s gene pool."
"It began as a way of controlling welfare spending on poor women and men but over time shifted focus targeting more women and more blacks than whites."
You know, there is something deeply familiar about the idea of controlling future welfare spending by intervening early. I`ve also seen that Eugenics image somewhere before.
Yes. Same concept as the Mindfulness Scotland logo from the organisation that is going to enhance the wellbeing of the people of Scotland.

I think we need to reflect on the meaning of the word `enhance.`


Friday, 17 March 2017

Free Melanie Shaw tweetstorm thursday 23 March

Mike Robinson introduced the topic on Friday`s UK Column News: "Somebody who is supporting Melanie has asked people to take part in the Tweetstorm on Thursday 23 March between 8 and 10pm. So we`re going to be advertising this over the next few days."


"Basically FreeMelanieShaw is the hashtag. I`m sure there are lots of people would appreciate receiving tweets on this subject next Thursday... Theresa May for example."

"Well Amber Rudd," Brian Gerrish adds. "Yes Mike this is terribly important. I was able to listen to a recording of Melanie speak a couple of days ago and what she`s enduring in HM Prison Foston Hall is truly horrific and we now know from other prisoners that the wardens are simply telling prisoners that Melanie is mentally ill and not to believe a word she says."

"What I heard in Melanie`s own voice was extremely composed and of course the truth of the matter is the British government wants this lady silenced because of her knowledge of the abuse and deaths of children and connections back through to the British government in Westminster."

No data for `outstanding` free schools

"Almost 40 new free schools have received `outstanding` judgements from Ofsted and exemption from future inspection before they achieved any formal results, a TES analysis has revealed."

"Inspectors have judged 43 new mainstream free schools `outstanding`. However, all but five of these schools were inspected before they had pupils in all year groups and before they had exam or test results."

"Critics are concerned about this absence of performance data for schools that could now have `outstanding` judgments in perpetuity, due to Ofsted's inspection exemption rule for top-rated schools."

"`People complain that the whole inspection judgement is too data-driven,` said Robert Coe, professor of education at Durham University. `But we don’t have any data for new schools. I think that’s a problem`."

"`We know that schools change. After two-to-three years of existence, the stability of a school is less than schools that are up and running. You’d want to check again, once they’ve been running for longer`."

Mindfulness in schools

The UK Column News covered the subject on Wednesday and Thursday:

Brian Gerrish began by saying: "This is the All Party Mindfulness group in Parliament which has been working to get mindfulness into health, education, the workplace and the criminal justice system. Now most people [are] totally unaware of this. They set up the Mindfulness Initiative. It says it`s a charity; don`t worry, we`re independent; we`re non-profit making. But the man we really need to pay attention to is Lord Layard because with his team he is boasting that he`s already trained - we say reframed - 115 Parliamentarians and 80 staff by mindfulness. Now I believe that figure relates to at least a year ago, so we can assume there`s more."

"But this is the organisation and we`re going to ask today for help from our viewers and listeners to get on to that Parliamentary site Have a look at the people involved and if you`re in their constituency can you start asking questions?"

"Well this is the man himself, Lord Layard. He simply says [of his background] he`s London School of Economics and Political Science. As far as we can see he`s medically unqualified, particularly in the mental health field. But his main current interest is how better mental health could improve social and economic life and his work on mental health includes publishing the Depression Report in 2006 which led to the establishment of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). He co-edited the 2012 World Happiness Report.  So we`ve got, it would seem, a medically unqualified man simply coming out and telling us what we need for our mental health. I find this deeply, deeply worrying. And if we have a look at The Mindfulness Intitiative itself, here we can see how closely embedded it is with the Parliamentary system. This is one of the Westminster committee rooms, the Mindfulness Initiative."

"And we called them today to say: `Are there any risks?` And they directed us to this page on their website which is `Is it for everyone?` And if I focus in on this what have we got here? Well, basically we`re seeing that:"
"On occasion, participants in medtation groups or retreats report unusual or unexpected experiences. This can prompt a variety of reactions, from curiosity at one end of the scale, to concern or distress at the other."

"So they are admitting here that mindfulness can cause... `distress`,  and they go on to say that people who are not fully qualified should not be giving this teaching.  But of course, this is psychotherapy which has no proper regulation anyway. So we said..  `Has the All Party Parliamentary group conducted risk analysis on mindfulness?` And we were told the answer was `No` but down here in the small print, part of the responsibility for this so-called risk, which doesn`t exist, is passed back here to the Oxford Mindfulness Centre."

"My goodness it get`s more interesting because they are visioning a world where mindfulness enables greater awareness, understanding, compassion, wisdom and responsiveness."

"How did we survive, Mike, for thousands of years without Oxford University and mindfulness? And if you really want to see the key part, they want to get mindfulnes worldwide. They want us to be able to realise our human potential which, of course, we couldn`t do without Oxford university. They want to embody mindfulness in all that we do and they want to be practising the change we would like to see."

"Who`s we?"

"I think that`s they."

"And we`ve looked on their website. No clear risk analysis on mindfulness although as we`ve seen harmful effects are recognised. We spoke to them on the phone and we`ve been invited to make contact by email to see what risk analysis they`ve done."

At this point Mike Robinson put forward the view: "There`s something that`s never really covered ...suicides in young people and I just wonder how much of this type of psychological manipulation  -  how much responsibility people like this have for this type of unfortunate result in young people?"

"...  they`re not clinical psychologists; they`re not trained psychiatrists where at least you have some regulation, some form of standards being imposed - these are psychotherapists. Anybody can do the course - put the plate up on the wall - then they`re going into schools manipulating the minds of youngsters. They have no idea if there`s any underlying mental health issue with any of those children. This is very very dangerous stuff."

"We`ve mentioned schools so we might as well bring in this. And thank you for viewers north of the border. Here we are: `Mindfulness in Scotland`. Not only is it going to be looking at enhancing the wellbeing of the people of Scotland but this is going directly into schools."

"I`ve just pointed out the little icon there because several people have contacted me this morning to say we think this is occult.  I have no way of knowing, but I don`t like the look of it. There`s a little person with roots growing up into a tree."

"The outstretched hands," said Mike Robinson. "You see the outstretched hands in so many of these sites in some form in their logo."

"Indeed. We`ll let other people research that ... Our point is, who are these people who are going into schools, playing with the minds of young children?  No risk analysis on this site either but when I went looking for who these people were - who is `Mindfulness Scotland` it brought me to a housing estate. There is no named individual. There`s no telephone number. There`s just an address - an email address - and the address is on a housing estate in Glasgow."

"So these are the people being given the responsibility to play with the minds of our children and young people. And as you say Mike we`re watching this dramatic increase in suicide rates amongst young people..."

Some people in the chat box suggested that the UK Column presenters did not understand mindfulness but as Mike Robinson said: "They have weaponised mindfulness for a political agenda and this is something quite different ..."

I have noticed that Richard Layard appears in the World Government Summit publication The State of Positive Education in conversation with positive psychology guru Dr Martin Seligman.
Seligman says: "For the last two decades Richard has made it his job to take promising ideas from psychology and to persuade the British body politic to act on them. With David Clark, Professor at Oxford, he persuaded Parliament to allocate more than one billion pounds sterling to train thousands of new cognitive therapists to treat depression (Layard & Clark, 2014)."
"`I am going to take the Penn Prevention Program to the schools of the UK,` Richard declares as we walk the back streets of Glasgow on a break from a meeting in which we share the podium."

Maths and science achievement is slipping in Australia

"A disturbing picture is emerging of Australian students slipping behind the world in maths and science achievement."

"A national report card of year six students has found their aptitude for science has not improved in a decade."

"Only 55 per cent of students nationally were judged as proficient in science, the report by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) found."

"It adds to a concerning picture that Australian school students are slipping behind the rest of the world in science and maths results."

"But for the first time, girls' performance in science is outstripping that of boys."

"The full reports from last year's Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Programme for International Student Assessment have also been released today."

"They show that Australia is being outperformed by a large number of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and that socioeconomic status is the largest determinant of success."

"The performance of disadvantaged students in Australian schools lags a full three years of school behind higher performing peers."

Here`s Greg Ashman who blames inquiry based learning for the lack of progress in science.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The wicked balancing act called child protection

From Australia

"The national children’s commissioner, Megan Mitchell, has called for stronger support to help parents raise their children, with new figures released on Thursday showing one in 33 children receives child protection services."

"In the year to 2016, child protection investigated 162,175 children under the age of 18, a rise of 20% in the past four years, the data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found. Of those children, 73% were repeat clients..."

"Mitchell described decisions being made by courts and child protection departments as `a wicked balancing act` between giving parents opportunities to get help and keeping children safe by placing them elsewhere long-term."

"`It’s not a science,` Mitchell said. `What we must have in place are really excellent assessments of the situation and the ability to engage deeply with the children and their family. In many cases where children have come to the attention of authorities, there’s not a deep enough engagement because some families are hard to reach`."

"We need to put extra effort into those families. We need to encourage help-seeking and we don’t want them disengaging further and further until there’s no oversight of what’s happening to children at all."

Megan Mitchell is quite correct in saying that child protection is NOT a science. Neither will be the excellent assessments she calls for, because they will be based on somebody`s opinion, and that is not science either.

We have to ask why is there a rise in children being taken into care in the developed world?  Parenting is no worse - probably better than it has ever been before. I remember being skelped as a form of `Don`t do that` from my parents but I certainly do not approve of it myself and I am not the only one. So what accounts for the rise in child protection cases?

You know, I think that rests with what our governments are doing while they pretend to be so concerned about children`s wellbeing. They are now controlling larger and larger sections of the population through child protection and some people are making a nice living for themselves while the government does that. This is not happening randomly.

Social workers take child away without informing family

"Essex council has agreed to pay £1,800 to a family after its decision to remove a girl from her aunt and uncle’s care without warning caused `considerable distress`."

"The teenage girl, who had moderate learning difficulties, had lived with her aunt and uncle since she was a child. She also had respite care provided by her grandparents."

"There were difficulties in the home, and she told social workers she was unhappy. The council took the decision to place her with new carers but failed to tell the girl, her aunt and uncle and grandparents until a social worker turned up at her school to remove her, a Local Government Ombudsman investigation found."

"The ombudsman said the council had no reason to believe the placement would fail without extra support and there was "no evidence" the girl was at immediate risk of significant harm."

"The council’s decision to end the placement instead appeared to be based on concerns over the uncle’s refusal to allow the girl’s social worker into his house, the ombudsman found."

"The council told the ombudsman it had problems working with the couple. The uncle would only let her social worker talk to the girl on the doorstep or in the garden as he was concerned over the social worker’s `influence` on his other children."

"The council told the ombudsman the uncle was `aggressive and non-cooperative`. The authority also claimed the aunt failed to attend meetings. Both accusations were denied by the pair."|SCSC|SCNEW-2017-0315

The McCann case profiler stands her ground

We must monitor carbon monoxide in pregnant women

"The chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), Duncan Selbie, has called for pregnant women to have their carbon monoxide (CO) levels monitored at antenatal appointments to find out whether they smoke. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has supported the initiative, provided the tests remain voluntary."

"While no one believes that smoking during pregnancy is healthy, PHE’s suggestion is alarming. What exactly does Selbie propose should happen to women who smoke during pregnancy? He points out that PHE’s plans ‘[aren’t] about scaring or hectoring people’. But arguing that women should be subject to blood tests suggests that women can’t be trusted to tell doctors the truth about their health during pregnancy. This so-called health initiative is more about vilifying women for their behaviour than improving health..."

"These measures are said to be a way of helping women who don’t feel comfortable telling their doctors that they’re struggling to quit smoking. But, voluntary or not, testing pregnant women for smoking will only foster a climate of mistrust. And alienating pregnant women from their doctors by making them feel like they’re being policed will do nothing to help their health."

"Besides, it is worth noting that there is a lack of consensus on the effectiveness of such tests. NICE, which has been calling for CO screening of pregnant women since 2010, has admitted that there is no clear cut-off point in CO levels that would definitively determine smoker status. CO levels are an unreliable measure by which to assess whether a patient smokes in the first place. This means that women could potentially be reprimanded for smoking habits they don’t even have."

Spiked: 6 March 2017

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

John Swinney: setting the record straight on information sharing

At the start of the programme, CEO of Barnardo`s, Martin Crewe, is not sure where the view that the Named Person is going to involve mass information sharing comes from.

Later on, he states that if necessary the Named Person will have access to appropriate records.

It is strange that he does not seem able to connect these two ideas.


After the three month intense engagement, mentioned in the STV programme, John Swinney had this to say:
"The government listened to parents. The Named Person service provides a point of contact and support who works in partnership with parents and families to help them to navigate the wider system. Parents told us that they do not always get the support that their families need so they have to tell their stories over and over again. Parents also told us they want the Named Person service to work in partnership with them and that having a say in the sharing of information about their family, matters to them."
I would like to know which parents John Swinney has been engaging with because this sounds like parents with children who have special needs. Most parents do not require support to navigate the wider system. Having a say in information sharing should not come into it, but certainly should never be done without consent. For most children, there is nothing to share.
"Their views and experience reinforce the initial rationale for creating the Named Person service."
No. What is reinforced is the requirement for services for children with special needs so that parents do not have to go round in circles trying to get the services. But John Swinney would rather set up a Named Person scheme for all children when most children and their families have no need of it.
"The Government listened to practitioners. As with families, nursing and medical organisations and trade unions told us that information sharing that is rooted in consent, engagement and empowerment of families was the best way forward."

It is unbelievable that the government needed to be told that information sharing should be rooted in consent.
"Only in exceptional circumstances, such as where the risk of harm is present, should we consider departing from those core principles."

Exactly. This is why the Supreme Court made the judgment that the Children and Young People Act was unlawful - the very thing that the Scottish government was trying to get away with. John Swinney has a brass neck reading from this script.
"Practitioners highlighted the point that professional judgment and discretion remains vital in working with families to decide whether, when and with whom information should be shared. "
Information should only be shared in exceptional circumstances. End of.
"The Care Inspectorate highlighted to us that sharing of relevant and proportionate information in relation to the wellbeing of children had improved as organisations prepared for the implementation of the Named Person service."
Well the Care Inspectorate should know better, otherwise we need to start questioning what they are doing during their inspections.
"Joint inspections of services for children and young people in 2014 to 2016 showed that most community partnership areas had developed mechanisms for sharing information about individual children with relevant services, while working within the requirements of data protection legislation and duties of confidentiality..."
What a lie.
"We must provide consistency, coherence and confidence in the approach to sharing information below the threshold of risk of significant harm where the Named person`s role is so important in supporting families to get assistance when they need it."
No. We must get rid of those mechanisms that have been put in place for sharing information. As long as they are there the data sharing abuses will continue.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Another setback for Scottish child abuse inquiry

"SCOTLAND’s beleaguered child abuse inquiry has suffered another setback after the Government sent out a desperate appeal for staff to work on its side of the investigation."

"A leaked email reveals the Government is at `serious risk` of missing a deadline set by the inquiry and warns of a `potential loss of credibility` among stakeholders..."

"Established in 2015, the inquiry is examining the abuse of children in care going back decades. It is currently taking evidence from people who were abused and a report is expected by late 2019."

"However, the complex probe has endured various crises, such as the resignation of all three of the original inquiry panellists."

"In June last year, Professor Michael Lamb quit after claiming that the inquiry was `doomed` due to government interference..."

"Weeks later, the then chair Susan O’Brien QC resigned and echoed the concerns of her erstwhile colleague: `My trust that the Scottish Government will actually respect the independence of the inquiry has gone. You have therefore left me with no alternative but to resign. I do so with a heavy heart, as I am clear that there is a real need for this inquiry to take place`."

"At the time, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said he had accepted her resignation after starting the formal procedure to remove her from post."

"O’Brien is now suing the Scottish Government for £500,000 in loss of earnings and damage to her reputation following her departure from the role. She was replaced by Lady Smith. Glenn Houston, the last of the original panel members, quit last month, citing personal reasons."

Perthshire school asks parents to help teach maths

As each day goes by it becomes more of a mystery how deputy first minister John Swinney is going to close the educational attainment gap:

"A Perthshire school struck by a chronic staff shortage is asking parents to help teach maths just weeks before the start of exams key to the children’s future."
"In a letter seen by The Courier, Blairgowrie High School head teacher Bev Leslie said the combination of one teacher leaving for a new job in Fife and another being `absent from work` has led to the extreme solution being sought."
"The revelation will cause discomfort for Perthshire North MSP John Swinney, the education secretary, particularly as it is his local high school."
"The Deputy First Minister has come under fire for nationwide shortages and last month announced £3 million to train an extra 371 teachers next year."
"During a recent Holyrood vote, where MSPs declared the SNP administration is `failing` pupils, Labour claimed that teacher numbers have fallen by 4,000 since the SNP came to power in 2007."
"Mrs Leslie wrote that interviews will take place to hire one teacher later this month, while another recruit is expected to arrive in August."

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Staggering leak of children`s private data

[Gareth Rose]

"The SNP`s Named Person scheme has been plunged into further chaos after a `staggering` leak of children`s private data."

"The names, addresses, schools, dates of birth and family details of vulnerable children were published online by a council piloting the introduction of state guardians. The breach was reported and the page taken offline, but the Information Commissioner`s Office is now investigating.  Dundee City Council could face a £500,000 fine."

"It is a blow for John Swinney, days after the Education Secretary tried to resurrect the policy. He was forced to halt it in August after the UK Supreme Court ruled it would breach children`s human rights."

"Last week, Mr Swinney introduced scaled back plans that would only see information shared in `exceptional circumstances`, with plans for new legislation this year.`"

"But the news about the SNP-run council raises serious doubts over its ability to handle confidential data."

"Children featured in a `user guide` to Getting It Right for Every Child, the wider SNP policy which includes Named Person...."

"A Scottish Government spokesman said: `We remain absolutely committed to the Named Person service."

See also:

As well as the unnamed Scottish government spokesman, Martin Crewe, CEO of Barnardo`s Scotland, is being as flippant as ever about data sharing.