Monday, 26 September 2016

Named Persons only take low level notes about children

Published on 26 June 2014

"On 22 June 2014 - The Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay came to South Lanarkshire, relive the colour and excitement of the day with this highlights package that captures the spirit of community events in Lanark, Carluke, East Kilbride, Rutherglen and Hamilton."

It makes you wonder, does it not, why every youngster in this video needs a Named Person guardian to oversee their wellbeing?


Published on 26 September 2016 ( Daily Record)

"Possible changes to the Scottish Government’s controversial Named Person proposals will not affect the current implementation of the scheme in Rutherglen and Cambuslang." 

"The SNP had hoped to introduce the scheme, which assigns a named person guardian to every person under the age of 18, across the country by August of this year, but plans were halted after the Supreme Court raised concerns over whether some of the information sharing provisions would breach the European Human Rights Act..."

"A South Lanarkshire Council spokesman said: `GIRFEC was introduced as an approach to apply across all children and adult, public and voluntary sector services to improve the use of resources and achieve better futures for children`."

"Since about 2009 every child in a South Lanarkshire school had an identified named person from education (head teacher in primary and promoted member of staff in secondary) and all children who have not yet started school had an identified named person from NHS (Health Visitor)."

"Currently this totals approximately 62,000 children and young people..."

"The Lanarkshire pathfinder project was considered to be successful. However the council could not provide any information on how often the service has been used."

"The Reformer understands action often taken as a result of the Named Person service is of a low level, such as a note on school records."

The council say they only deal with children, young people and parents who ask for the service... but if all that asking for the service means is that there is a low level note on a school record, why would any sensible person ask for such a service?

That explanation to justify the Named Person scheme seems very suspicious to me. So I would suggest that every parent and child in this area should ask their Named Person for the information that has been placed in a note on their school record. [SEEMiS]  It is very important that families are able to satisfy themselves that the information placed in the school record has been put there in accordance with the law.

As for SEEMiS, who better to give an account and critique of this system which is designed, as far as I can see,  to database all schoolchildren, than an independent organisation like Schoolhouse.

By the way, the diagram that Schoolhouse produces says it all.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

The new Chief Executive of TUSLA

The UK Column News begins with the Docherty case. [23 September 2016]

"Tusla is the Republic of Ireland child protection child agency. It deals with families and children and allegedly the state`s means of protecting them. Now the first head of Tusla - Tusla`s a very new organisation - the first head of Tusla was strangely enough, Scottish. His name was Gordon Jeyes. He came originally from Stirling Council and oddly enough he was in fact head of education during the time of the Dunblane massacre. He then went to Cambridgeshire Council and had a very controversial career down there as well, with the numbers of children being taken into care being one of the areas of interest and concern."

 "And he then went across to set up the new Tusla organisation and because it was a new organisation ... he coined the term: this is the year zero ... for Tusla. Now this was obviously a term coined by the Khmer Rouge: it seemed an odd choice. But after one term he resigned as his deputy took over. His deputy is a man called Fred McBride who by another strange coincidence is also Scottish; and by an even stranger coincidence came from, of all places, Aberdeen Council. Aberdeen City Council is a neighbouring council to the one who has been dealing with the Dochertys."

Mike Robinson presents Fred McBride`s Linkedin page: "It shows that he clearly hasn`t updated it in a while and it shows that he was Director of Social Care and Wellbeing at Aberdeen City Council and just to demonstrate that he`s now moved to Tusla, this is the Tusla website and we can see that Fred McBride is Chief Executive."

"And we can see the press release from Aberdeen City Council saying that he was going to Tusla... "

"`Mr McBride is set to become Chief Operations Officer with a new organisation created by the Republic`s government, the Children and Family Support Agency.` And this is the organisation which became Tusla. So his original job... was Chief Operations Officer. He then became Chief Executive Officer. So he must be doing a good job David?"

"Or he`s certainly been well rewarded. He has of course been no help at all to the Dochertys. He has refused to answer all questions put to him about the Dochertys of which there have been many and ... more on that in a minute. And his background is ... controversial because before he was head of social services in Aberdeen he fulfilled the same job in a different city and that is Dundee just down the coast. And when he was in Dundee, in fact .... before his move to the £107,000 a year post in Aberdeen he was embroiled in a very controversial and very tragic event where a twenty three month toddler, a little boy called Brandon Muir, was murdered and there was a lot of controversy at the time about this because the little boy was murdered by a violent thug who was the mother`s boyfriend and had no direct relationship to the little boy."

"But the violent... individual was known to social services and was in fact banned from seeing his own children without supervision, due to his tendency to be violent to them and to his former partner. Despite this he was allowed full access to this new family and within weeks this ended in death. To make matters worse the grandmother of the small boy actually spotted the problem; realised this man was violent; tried to raise the alarm and of course got nowhere."

"Well this article, if we can just put it back up again confused me a little bit because what it says is: `WATCHDOGS yesterday savaged the social work department that failed to save tragic Brandon Muir.` But then we also have a Guardian article here which is saying that the `killing of a toddler by his mother`s drug-addicted boyfriend could not have been foreseen, an inquiry into child protection services revealed today.` So which is it? " asks Mike Robinson.

"Well this is the question because the inquiry was set up by Fred McBride just before he left Dundee. He set up an inquiry into his own department. But it was an independent inquiry, you understand... and the fact that he wrote the terms of reference wouldn`t have affected it in any way. He then went to Aberdeen and the inquiry reported and very surprisingly exonerated him... But there remains a great deal of concern and criticism from family members and from people who had been directly affected by this. The social services in Dundee failed quite badly in this case."

"Can I just add to that if I may David?" says Brian Gerrish. "That one of the key things about the power of social services is that even within a particular local authority social services operate as a walled city. So if you are a democratically elected councillor and you have concerns about what is happening with children or even what`s happening with social services within your own council you will find it particularly difficult to ask any questions or to get those questions answered and even councillors who have a specific responsibility for childcare have reported to us that they have been excluded, banned by the council, from asking questions of those social services officers..."  

David Scot agrees that there`s no democratic control; there`s no openness. "There is increasingly a change in approach as well because ... the traditional social work approach was quite modest; it realised the difficulties of going into a family and making the right decision. It only did it very reluctantly; it was only in extreme circumstances; and it had a fairly modest approach about what their wisdom was even able to achieve.... In contrast you have the Scottish approach currently which is every aspect of every family is of interest and will benefit from professional help and guidance.  And somehow we`re professionalising the entire family structure in the nation."

"And of course here there`s a much more specific concern which is the head of Tusla came from Aberdeen City Council which was very close ... to Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeenshire Council and the local health board NHS Grampian are involved in the persecution of the Dochertys. So how much did Mr Fred McBride know? What backdoor links are there back to Scotland through networks, personal networks that he will have created during his professional life in North East Scotland and in what way are these hidden backdoor methods of communication being used to adversely affect the Docherty family and above all else the wellbeing of the Docherty children?"

"OK," says Mike Robinson. "We have three questions for Fred McBride and let`s just bring up a nice picture of him."

Question for Fred McBride:
1. What minimum inquiries, interviews, warnings or other preliminary steps are TUSLA required to undertake (either by statute or by internal standard procedures) before taking the extreme step of seizing children against the wishes of parents and taking them into state care?
"Now pause there on that one Mike. Er.. one of the things I discovered when talking with the Dochertys last week ... there are requirements. We need to find out more about exactly what they are, but they were not followed.  And this was pointed out by a barrister that they managed to hire for a short period ... A fraudulent report was placed in the file... We`ll have details of this on the website and report in detail on this shortly. Tusla`s social worker made a fraudulent report which recorded a meeting that never took place and that was placed in the file. Subsequently, when the case came to court, Tusla`s social worker decided not to perjure herself. So in court she stated the very opposite that this meeting hadn`t taken place. So Tusla has huge questions to answer. Now they won`t answer any questions...because the excuse is we don`t comment on individual cases . So let`s ask them the questions about what the procedures should be and we can then compare that to what actually happened."
2. When children are in care what information regarding their education, health and wellbeing should be communicated to the parents?
3. When families are separated by state/TUSLA action what procedures are in place to effect restoration of the family unit?

Child soldiers planted landmines

Friday, 23 September 2016

The collaborative approach

Damned was screened two years ago, starring Alan Davies, Kevin Eldon and Jo Brand who wrote the script.


A telling comment in Community Care:
"I`ve been a child care social worker for more years than I care to remember and this clip encapsulates the whole ethos of the job."
"Thank goodness Jo has taken time to look into the sometimes fruitless workings of ‘working together’."

Family court system is at full stretch

"The head of the family courts has issued a dire warning about court, barrister and local authority ability to cope with rising numbers of care cases."

"In a commentary about the family courts, published this week, Sir James Munby, president of the High Court’s family division, described the system as `at full stretch` and facing `a clear and imminent crisis`."

"This warning followed another record month for care applications. In the past 10 years, the number of care applications going through the courts have doubled, and 2016-17 already looks to be another record year for case numbers."
"The single, most important thing that could be done to tackle the crisis was a shift in the focus of the family courts towards tackling the causes of care cases, he added. He cited positively the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC), which seeks to use proceedings to help parents tackle substance misuse problems and thereby keep hold of their children, and Pause, which supports women at risk of repeat removals of children."
"FDAC, Pause and similar projects are, at present, the best hope, indeed, in truth, the only hope, we have of bringing the system, the ever increasing numbers of care cases, under control," he concluded."
A good response from LongtimesSW

"This goes to the heart of the British Constitution as it now exists rightly, the Judiciary and the legislature are separate."

"However what is clear is that social care have to answer/respond to both."

"Resources or lack of them are not accepted by Courts as a reason not to comply with Legal obligations in turn Government control of the purse strings for those resources take little or no account of the laws they promote and are passed."

"Yet again the focus is on perceived social care failings rather than the failings of social policy/legislation that is driven by finance rather than need (allowing private organisations to disregard some aspects of statute in respect of Child Protection responsibilities is an example)."

Thursday, 22 September 2016

New influx of funding for migrant crisis

It was announced on UK Column News yesterday that Brian Gerrish and Mike Robinson will be joining David Scott at a meeting in the Riverside, Stirling Road, Dunblane on Wednesday 28th September.

One of the topics covered in the news is the announcement by George Soros that he will be spending 500 million dollars to provide aid for migrants. Theresa May has also stated that the UK is going to be spending hundreds of millions of pounds on the migrant crisis in Europe. "So they`ve created the problem," says Mike Robinson. "They`re trying to incite the reaction in the public and they`re going to provide a global solution to this problem they`ve created... They`re herding people across the planet."

Pointing to an Open Democracy article Robinson goes on to say: "They`re pushing the idea that we should be `responsibility sharing`...on an equal basis because we want to distribute these migrants as far and as wide as we possibly can.  About the same number going to each host country."

Coincidentally, Tony Blair has stated that he is going to close his commercial operations because he wants to concentrate the vast bulk of his time on the not-for-profit work he does. ... "This is NGO, charity work. This is what`s driving the real evil around the world at the moment."

Brian Gerrish adds: "I think it`s significant that Soros has put his head so far above the parapet. These people like using their organisations... to do the job. If Soros is having to come public and say: five hundred million dollars to achieve this - if he`s going to have to do that in person - it says to me there`s a rush."

Mike Robinson reminds viewers about the previous day`s news when he showed a picture tweeted by Unicef: "At the heart of this programme are children... See the image put on a tweet .. .They`re trying to say with a hashtag that children should come first. And I was really highlighting the irony of Roelie Post because she`s still being targeted by the United Nations and the European Union over her attempts to expose what`s been happening to children over decades."

"Well, she passed this through to us via Vanessa Beeley today. The European Commission has announced a ... partnership shall we say, with Unicef, and they`re saying they`re helping to address learning and protection needs of children affected by the Syria crises. `As a new school year gets underway`, they say, `across the middle east a major injection of funds from the European Union is boosting efforts to provide learning opportunities and protection to hundreds of thousands of children and youth who have fled the Syria conflict`."

"So this is great !" exclaims Robinson sarcastically. "Lots and lots of money going in to protect children but we should not forget, only a few months ago, I think in April this year, this report from Gatestone Institute that the European Union and Turkey have treated Syrian refugees so terribly that they found themselves in such a horrendous situation that they have just become prey for sex traffickers."

Children are being sold for 700 dollars to 1700 dollars. " Parents are being persuaded that their children are going to better lives but, in fact, quoting from the report: `This has become the fastest growing ... criminal market in Europe with refugee smuggling the major source of income."

"So what`s the EU doing, according to that partnership with Unicef? They`re putting money into keeping refugees in camps which of course places them in a position of being easy targets for these traffickers."

Gerrish agrees: "Yeah. So we force the migration problem. With that we get families broken up: the men in particular often the first to leave in order to try and get work elsewhere and that leaves mother and the children vulnerable to what`s then going to come.

See also Roelie Post Search a Child, Pay Cash: The Adoption Lobby

Campaign to introduce the Nordic kindergarten model to Scotland

Anne Glennie in the Learning Zoo responds to Teaching Scotland`s article about the campaign by Upstart Scotland to introduce a Nordic-style kindergarten system in Scotland.

"In the search for a solution to our problems, it is natural to consider the countries which top the PISA tables and to try and ‘have a bit of what they’re having’. However, when it concerns literacy and the attainment gap, we would do well to be wary of hastily drawn conclusions. Sue Palmer cites countries such as Finland, Switzerland and Estonia, attributing their success to the fact that ‘formal’ learning in these countries does not start until age 7."

"This assumption, the backbone of the Upstart campaign, is entirely erroneous. There is a much simpler, more basic, reason that explains why these countries are at the top of their game when it comes to reading and literacy: their languages have transparent orthographies. Or, to put it another way: Finnish, German and Estonian (a Uralic language related to Finnish) are all easy languages to learn. The written code of these languages is simple and, in the case of Finnish, one letter equals one sound."

"Many children in Finland come to school already able to read and if they can’t teaching them is the small matter of a term’s work. Interestingly, Denmark doesn’t get a mention from Sue Palmer, although children there also start school at 7 but it is perhaps not wise to advertise their literacy struggles. Despite a two year ‘advantage’ in a kindergarten stage, Danish children have similar difficulties in acquiring the alphabetic principles of their language, although not quite as extreme as in English. Furthermore, research shows that ‘foundation literacy acquisition by non-English European groups is not affected by gender and is largely independent of variations in the ages at which children start formal schooling’ (Seymour/Aro/Erskine)."

"English, on the other hand, has a deep orthography which gives rise to various complexities; not least of which is the fact that we have 44+ phonemes (sounds) in English and only 26 letters of the alphabet to represent them with. This, coupled with direct borrowing from other languages, means that we have a huge number of spelling alternatives, making English the most difficult alphabetic language to learn, and teach, in the world. Indeed, it takes at least three years of teaching, learning and practice to master the basics of reading, writing and spelling. This complexity is also the reason that we have so many children that struggle because English is hard. But, crucially, success in reading for all is possible. There are already many schools in England that have not only closed the gender gap, but that have successfully closed the attainment gap too even where the majority of their children are disadvantaged or have English as a second language."  

Read more

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Scottish Government plans to scrap some assessments

"The Scottish government plans to scrap some `unit assessments` which are marked by teachers and make up a proportion of pupils' final mark."

"Instead final exams will be strengthened and externally marked coursework in some subjects will also contribute to students' grades."

"National 5 courses will be altered next year and Higher courses in 2018."

"Under the government's plans, some exams may now form 100% of the final mark. In other cases, the externally marked coursework may make up a significant proportion."

"The move comes after Education Secretary John Swinney told teachers he was `absolutely committed` to reducing their workload earlier this year..."

"Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) have been on a partial work to rule over the issue."

"Its general secretary, Larry Flanagan, said news of the government's plans would be welcomed by teachers, pupils and parents."

"`Since the introduction of new national qualifications, pupils and teachers have been placed under an excessive and unnecessary assessment burden during the senior phase of secondary, leading finally to EIS industrial action,` he said."

"`The agreement to remove mandatory unit assessments as a requirement from all National 5 and Higher courses is a victory both for common sense and for that campaign of action, carried out by EIS members in secondary schools across Scotland`."
About timeIt`s a pity some pupils are still having to go through the assessments this year.

Janner`s son wants CPS to take action against sex abuse accuser

"A man whose claims about a Westminster paedophile ring prompted a £1.8m police investigation could face prosecution for attempting to pervert the course of justice."

"The claimant, known only as `Nick`, made a series of lurid allegations about a number of influential figures including the former prime minister Edward Heath, Lord Bramall, the former head of the armed forces, the former home secretary Leon Brittan and the former Tory MP Harvey Proctor."

"No evidence was found to back up his claims."

"He also alleged that the former Labour MP Greville Janner later Lord Janner was part of the ring."

"Janner’s family have written to an internal Metropolitan police inquiry demanding that Nick be prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)."

"`If the CPS does not take action then I will be consulting our legal team about launching a private prosecution of Nick,` said Daniel Janner QC, the son of the peer, who died in December while facing allegations of sexual assault."

See The Needle Blog for a list of other allegations against Janner.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Named Persons for children with additional support needs

Calum Munro, formerly policy lead to Highland Children’s Forum, is either lost in his own reality or is deliberately trying to mislead the public.
"Firstly, a single point of contact with services was asked for by parents and carers of children and young people with additional support needs."
"These families continually faced a `pass the parcel` situation when they sought help, where they were the parcel and each time the music stopped, instead of stripping off a layer of wrapping paper more was added in the shape of service specific application forms."
"Their testimony of this experience led to the concept of a single point of initial contact for any family or young person who sought help. The person acting as the single point of contact would be required to take down the story once in a multi-agency acceptable format so that the family or young person was not required to repeat the basics time and time again."
He has obviously not been paying attention to the Tymes Trust, a charity well acquainted with the `pass the parcel` mentality of services for children with additional support needs. In their case their concern is with children suffering and being mistreated by services for ME. Yet they do not support the current Named Person policy.  

Now what was it they had to say about the Named Person again?
"Named Persons have existed in Highland at least as far back as 2001. Under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, children with additional support needs were provided with a Record of Needs - a booklet from the Scottish Office, 'A Parents’ Guide to Special Educational Needs'  dated 1999 - which offered guidance to parents and 'Named Persons' (SOEID 1999)"
"As a result of advice from the assessment team, a draft Record of Needs was prepared in consultation with the parents. At this point the parents stated whether they wished to have a Named Person - someone appointed by the parents to act as adviser and friend - an active participant - who was on the families` side."
"All of this was made obsolete in 2004, through the Education Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) Act when co-ordinated Support Plans replaced Records of Needs..."
"The Highland GIRFEC trial began in 2005, and by 2007 ‘Named Persons’ - this time appointed by the state, were being trained by the Highland Council to ‘help support and advise’ families over state mandated wellbeing - not the same thing as 'welfare' and not the same as the Child Protection Scheme either."
Calum Munro, as former policy lead to the Highland Children`s Forum, you should know this. Why are you pushing a policy that parents of children with additional support needs do not want? And by implication, why would you wish this imposed on all children?