Saturday, 10 December 2016

Happy human rights day

Capita SIMS

"Outsourcing giant Capita is to sack 2,000 staff and replace them with robots in a move some fear will be repeated across the economy, leading to more than 1 million job losses."

"The FTSE 100-listed firm, which collects the BBC license fee and provides services for the NHS, said it needed to axe 2,000 jobs to save money due to poor trading with corporate clients."

"It said it would use the money it saved to fund investment into robotic workers across the whole company, according to the Guardian."

"The announcement will add to fears the world is facing a fourth industrial revolution powered by artificial intelligence (AI) which will result in unprecedented job losses."

"A study published by Oxford University and consultancy firm Deloitte in October predicted there is a 77 percent probability Britain will lose 1.3 million `repetitive and predictable` administrative and operative jobs within 15 years."

"More than 850,000 public sector jobs including teachers, social workers and even police officers could also be replaced by computer programs."

Friday, 9 December 2016

The falling standards make a case for Sturgeon`s educational reform plan

Or so she says.

"Opposition politicians said Scotland was going `backwards` in reading, science and maths under the SNP [but] the first minister ... defended the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) as `the right way forward` for Scottish schools in the face of criticism..."

"Scotland was within the average banding for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], but was placed lower in all three subject areas than in any previous Pisa survey."

"Asked who she would seek to blame for the results, Ms Sturgeon said she herself took responsibility..."

"Ruth Davidson said the SNP had been in government for 10 years and had not managed to sort out education, and added that her party could potentially withdraw their support for the current curriculum system."

"She said: `The single biggest education reform under this SNP government has been Curriculum for Excellence, and nobody here can simply brush aside the fact that since it has come in, standards have fallen`."

So how can Sturgeon confidently assert that Curriculum for Excellence is right for Scotland?

As deputy first minister John Swinney said earlier in the week: "The OECD indicated to us that Curriculum for Excellence was a bold and strong reform. It was right for Scotland. But they also identified a range of interventions that we had to make to strengthen Scottish education and when the government had the first insight that educational performance was falling in 2015 we took action to take forward the necessary measures to address those issues."

There is no thought that scrapping Curriculum for Excellence might be one of those necessary measures. It is illuminating to consider the role of the OECD in the present state of affairs.
"As an organisation of economic development, OECD is naturally biased in favour of the economic role of public [state] schools. But preparing young men and women for gainful employment is not the only, and not even the main goal of public education, which has to prepare students for participation in democratic self-government, moral action and a life of personal development, growth and wellbeing..."
"To carry out Pisa and a host of follow-up services, OECD has embraced "public-private partnerships" and entered into alliances with multi-national for-profit companies, which stand to gain financially from any deficitsreal or perceivedunearthed by Pisa. Some of these companies provide educational services to American schools and school districts on a massive, for-profit basis, while also pursuing plans to develop for-profit elementary education in Africa, where OECD is now planning to introduce the Pisa programme..."
"As Pisa has led many governments into an international competition for higher test scores, OECD has assumed the power to shape education policy around the world, with no debate about the necessity or limitations of OECD's goals. We are deeply concerned that measuring a great diversity of educational traditions and cultures using a single, narrow, biased yardstick could, in the end, do irreparable harm to our schools and our students."
 The Scottish government is working hand in glove with global organisations to transform Scotland`s education system with more `transformational change` on the way. The role of the OECD is similar to the likes of Barnardo`s in its support of the named person scheme. It gives a veneer of legitimacy to what would otherwise be an unpopular policy.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Police licences for child sex abuse investigators

"Police officers investigating child sex abuse are to be required to be specially trained and accredited in the same way as specialist firearms officers under proposals announced by the home secretary.

Amber Rudd said she wanted to see only registered officers who could demonstrate specialist skills used to investigate complex “high harm” crimes involving the most vulnerable people, such as child sex abuse."

"In a speech to the College of Policing, the home secretary said the new police licence to practise would mean officers and staff were not forced to take on roles they were not prepared for or professionally trained to do."

"`For too long crimes against vulnerable people have simply not been taken seriously enough and their voices have not necessarily been heard. They have been treated as second-class crimes and not always been given the attention they deserve,` said Rudd..."

"The announcement follows [the] scathing report by Her Majesty`s Inspectorate of Constabulary on the record of the Metropolitan police on child protection which showed that mistakes had been made in 75% of child sexual abuse cases."

At this point it would be a good idea to link back to the police whistleblower who talks about cover-ups, not mistakes:

The GIRFEC ethos in Inverclyde

"ENTERPRISING Gourock Primary pupils opened their very own cafe and a lot of money is now brewing for a good cause."

"Youngsters have set up their own business to help raise money for fellow students in Malawi and promote the ‘getting it right for every child’ (GIRFEC) ethos in Inverclyde."

"Their new GIRFEC Games Cafe launched recently and went down a storm with parents, staff and invited guests."

"As well as setting up the tearoom and serving customers, the pupils baked their own cakes which they sold alongside cuppas."

Oh wait !
"The 'Named Person' service has not started yet - we are still waiting on a date from the Scottish Government. Once the service starts we will list details of how to contact a Named Person." (last updated 24 August 2016)

Mmmm. Promoting the GIRFEC ethos in the GIRFEC Games Café went down a storm with parents, staff and invited guests.

It boggles the mind.

As part of their ambitious plan Inverclyde put forward Nurturing Inverclyde: Working together to get it right for every child, citizen and community and has implemented a fully integrated multi-agency family support service in partnership with Barnardo's.
So this monumental service is just sitting there waiting for the nod from the Deputy First Minister to get it up and running.

Expect fireworks that day in the true spirit of GIRFEC.

Justice Committee not interested in justice for Melanie Shaw

Alex Thomson joined Brian Gerrish and Mike Robinson for yesterday`s UK Column programme.

It was Mike Robinson who began by pointing to an article in the A Register: The UK`s investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court.
"Section 56(1)(b) creates a legally guaranteed ability nay, duty to lie about even the potential for State hacking to take place, and to tell juries a wholly fictitious story about the true origins of hacked material used against defendants in order to secure criminal convictions. This is incredibly dangerous. Even if you know that the story being told in court is false, you and your legal representatives are now banned from being able to question those falsehoods and cast doubt upon the prosecution story."
"Potentially, you could be legally bound to go along with lies told in court about your communications lies told by people whose sole task is to weave a story that will get you sent to prison or fined thousands of pounds."
`Evidence not wanted by Justice Committee` 

This is the caption at the top of the screen where child abuse whistleblower Melanie Shaw`s situation is summarised.
"For her last hearing Melanie was denied a court appearance in person and was given a Skype link instead, but was cut off when the Judge objected to her statements. The Judge has demanded another psychiatric assessment, believed to be the third and it looks like the state wants her sectioned. No application for bail has been made... "
"A mysterious prison probation officer has instructed Nottingham City Homes to evict Melanie and her possessions will be disposed of on 16 December 2016 unless they are claimed."
Brian Gerrish continued: "Well, we`ve just heard, if you like, the documentary evidence as to what is happening in the justice system - if we can call it that. Let`s have a look at the practicalities. So we`ll bring in Melanie Shaw and I`ll just say we`ve been able to hear a recorded phone conversation with Melanie. This has been heavily redacted but let`s just remember this lady has now been in prison for over seven and a half months. During that time she`s been kept in solitary confinement - so only out of her cell for half an hour for a shower - no interaction with other prisoners, no access to the long term medication which she`s needed to survive since she was a child abuse victim in Beechwood children`s home, Nottingham. Under immense pressure, lied to by the prison staff, visitors blocked, mail blocked."
The recording of Melanie can be heard at 9.19 minutes... She ends by talking about the eviction and wonders what is going to happen to her cat. She asks for Christmas cards from the public as that is all she has to look forward to.
"Well if that doesn`t affect our viewers and listeners today I don`t know what would. This is the reality of Theresa May and David Cameron`s conservative Britain. There is no justice. Child abuse whistleblowers, far from being helped and supported are locked up, in solitary confinement for over seven and a half months. That is the definition of torture under the United Nations rules at least and that is the so-called justice meted out to child abuse victims in  the UK."
"So Melanie`s still unsure what she`s actually been charged with. She`s apparently due to be sentenced in January next year but she`s also said that she believes she`s going to be charged with a whole range of other things which have supposedly been happening in prison.... So Melanie said many other things. We can`t share those with the public for a variety of reasons, but that little audio heavily edited, I think it gets out an impression of what`s happening."
He then referred to a letter to a member of the public from Bob Neill, Chairman of the Justice Committee. "Now let`s have a look at what the state says about things..." 
"Thank you for your letter of 23 November."
"I should first make clear that appointment of MPs to select committees is a matter for their political parties and the House as a whole. It is not a matter for the committee concerned or its Chair. My duty as Chair of the Justice Committee is to work with all MPs duly appointed to the committee, and I do not comment on any individual members of the committee." 
"You ask me to use my powers to end what you describe as the victimisation of child abuse whistleblowers, and to support the release of Melanie Shaw from prison. I am afraid the Justice Committee is not permitted to intervene in individual cases, so neither I nor the committee have any powers which we could exercise in relation to her case. This is a matter for the legal process, it`s also a matter on which her constituency MP may be able to assist her." 
"So basically it doesn`t matter what the crime is, it`s no concern of the Justice Committee.  Well yesterday I had a chance to speak to the Clerk of the Justice Committee. Now this is 5 minutes long.  I`d encourage people to stick with it. Listen to what this man says to me bearing in mind here is an advert from the justice part of the government`s website which says: Watch our bite-sized guide on how committees in the House of Commons gather evidence and how you can get involved." The audio starts at 14.19 minutes.
Brian Gerrish quoted the second paragraph of the letter to the Clerk of the Justice Committee and then said: "That paragraph leaves the public in complete no man`s land because the whole reason there`s public interest in this case is because of the total breakdown of justice procedures..." In response the clerk repeatedly told Gerrish that he was not allowed to intervene in individual cases. "It`s not a question of intervening, it`s a question of the Justice Committee paying attention to what`s going on here because the government should be held to account."
It was hopeless, even when Gerrish attempted to get the clerk to speak in more general terms about the right to appear in person in a court of law, he would not. Finally Gerrish said: "Just explain to me in simple layman`s terms then what the committee does?" There was an awkward pause...

It was agreed by the UK Column team that the Justice Committee was set up in such a way that it would never have to examine individual cases.

After the phonecall Gerrish spoke to the audience: "It`s so clever, you say where`s the evidence? Well the evidence that the system isn`t working is held in individual cases ... [That] evidence is the evidence which needs to be brought forward so that failures of government and judicial organisations can be dealt with. But no no no. We don`t want to see real evidence. We want the boss of the prison service to tell us how wonderful his prisons are."

"This is straight out of East Germany."

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Reverse engineering for the future workforce


President Obama is speaking at the press conference after the APEC Economic Leaders` Summit in Peru (11/20/16)

"The 21 Asia-Pacific countries here represent 3 billion people and six of America`s top ten trading partners - more than half of the global economy and the world`s fastest growing region.  In other words these 21 countries represent tremendous opportunity for the United States to sell our goods and support your jobs."

The Phillipines is one of the 21 members in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), but there is another APEC on the ground there too. This APEC (Affordable Private Education Centres) is a "for-profit chain of low-fee private schools established through a joint venture between two major multinational corporations, Pearson Plc and The Ayala Group."

The interesting thing about the private school chain is what it can tell us about the kind of education system that the big global corporations are designing for their future workforce.

They utilise a process called reverse engineering, that is, they decide the qualities they want to see in their workers; something like successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors; that kind of thing. They track back and then work out the curriculum they must put in place to push children in the direction they want them to go.
"APEC has a curriculum made up of three parts: knowledge, skills and values. Arguably values are most important and then skills are next and then knowledge for employers. Because you could have the most skilled person who is really knowledgeable but if they give up every time they encounter failure then you don’t want them working for you. If they are really pessimistic then you don’t want them working for you. If they have a bad personality then you don’t want them working for you. So values are really important to employers and so that’s what we are working on..."
"This industry-driven educational vision involves producing flexible and cheap labour that can be utilised by (multinational) companies in positions that require minimal area specific knowledge. In turn, the knowledge that is sold by APEC is commodified and altered to align with the social relations of production that can sustain corporate capital growth..."
"APEC advertises its low-cost, for-profit education services as an investment that significantly enhances students’ employment potential and readiness for competing in the global employment market by equipping students with real-world skills through programs designed in close partnership with prospective employers"

 APEC is investing in `human capital` in order to develop the interests of corporations. An importat feature is how companies collaborate with each other to plan their development in the longterm. Children today will be the workers of tomorrow. Governments, heavily in debt, are drawn into public/private partnerships, intensifying the stranglehold of the corporations. The same kind of thing is happening all over Africa.

I think there are indications that similar trends are beginning to appear in Western countries too: public/private partnerships, competency based eduation, workforce development, 21st century learning - on and on it goes - because those are just some of the indicators from Curriculum for Excellence.


Norwegian mother cries for help

"Norway's child care services have been reluctant to take action following the sexual abuse of a six-year-old child by her foster family, to the outrage of the child's own family."

"Stine Gulbrandsen, a Norwegian mother of two girls, poured her heart out in a video explaining what happened to her and her children."

"Speaking in Turkish journalist Fuat Uğur's program in broadcaster ATV, Gulbrandsen explained that after her boyfriend decided to end their relationship, he kicked her and the older child out. She contacted the police and Barnevernet, the child welfare service in Norway, to take her younger daughter, only six-months-old back then. The police refused to intervene and Barnevernet warned her if she doesn't resolve the issue with her boyfriend they would take both children away. Instead of helping the young mother, the policemen sent by Barnevernet took the children away and placed them under the care of a "bizarre family," Stine explained in the footage."

"`Later I found out that something happened to my six-year-old daughter. They found her with an older boy or man in the same bed, both naked,` said the mother. `I got worried and contacted the police`."

"The police failed to react again, so she went to Barnevernet, where the authorities mocked her and even claimed that it was probably the six-year-old girl's fault to be sexually assaulted."

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Army halt North Dakota pipeline

"A day that began with prayers ended with victory dances Sunday as Native Americans and environmentalists here celebrated the news that President Obama's administration would halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline."

"In the most substantial blow yet to the much-contested pipeline, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, a Corps reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota. That remained the only contested portion of the 1,172-mile pipeline, which is nearly completed."

"In a statement late Sunday, pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners said it remained committed to completing the project without a reroute."

"The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions, the statement read, `by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favour of currying favour with a narrow and extreme political constituency`."

"The pipeline was set to cross the river a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation border. Tribal members have for months protested the project, worried that a pipeline breach could threaten their drinking water supplies..."

"President-elect Donald Trump's administration, widely viewed as more friendly to energy interests could reverse the Corps' decision after he takes office Jan. 20."

Dystopian future or best place on the planet?

Sturgeon announced an independent review of the care system in October: "to look at the underpinning legislation, practices, culture and ethos of care which will be driven by those who have direct experience of it."

It was Duncan Dunlop, CEO, Who Cares? Scotland, who inspired the latest Scottish Government review. He believes that "Sturgeon is on to something and that she is both politically and emotionally invested in it."

"A pressure group has found their voice, and when a collective group finds their voice and realises that their rights are being impinged, they decide to do something about it," he said...

He bigs it up even more by saying: "This opportunity has never happened anywhere on this planet, as far as we know, where a group of care-experienced people say: ‘This is how we want to make things better.’"

Then he blows it:

"You have abuse survivors but this is a very different conversation."


Abuse survivors are very care-experienced people, Mr Dunlop. Leave them out of the equation and you will never get anything right. Hasn`t that been part of the problem all along?

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