Thursday, 30 June 2016

Bringing psychological interventions into the classroom

It is amazing what can be found on Youtube. Here is someone pleading with Scotland to become a nation and to throw off the yoke of the Named Person. That might be too much of a specification for some. What is ironic is that many of the ideas that Scotland are implementing originate with the US.

From US Special Education Guide:
"Children with special needs can often benefit from a number of therapies and, generally, the sooner they receive treatment, the better the outcomes will be. But, how do you know if a child needs help? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires each state to implement early identification policies to locate and refer children who may have a disability to that state’s early intervention programme...(EI)"
"There are two methods for identifying and referring a child to EI. The first is a referral, usually by an educator or a parent. The second is the Child Find programme. Mandated by IDEA, Child Find continuously searches for and evaluates children who may have a disability with the use of Child Find activities, which can vary widely from school district to school district."
Anita Hoge, who has campaigned against the US education standards called Common Core for over twenty years, thinks Common Core is expanding into psychological experimentation:

"Every child has a target on their back. The Federal Government wants EVERY child to conform to Common Core. `CHILD FIND` is the technique carried out and funded by Special Education, IDEA, to identify your child as AT-RISK. Teacher PREDATORS monitor, video, scan,, scavenge, and document every move, every word uttered, every written word and every idea that your child has. Kids are closely monitored in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in the hallways, on the playground, on the bus, in the restrooms...every space is monitored for behaviour, speech or written word.  Every documented incident is captured in the NCES/IES federal data base. Datamining is big business and this personal information is a freebie."

"What are they looking for? Group goals. Group commitment. Group effort ... or Any social, emotional or behavioural action or opinion that would justify intervention as a disability. Teachers are being trained to look for anything from wiggling in their seats, dropping a pencil, staring out the window or getting out of line at lunch as a behavioural problem. Speech is monitored so that no child can voice their true opinions. Disagreements are documented as anti-social behaviour or racist. Any pushing, shoving, kicking or fighting is deemed aggressive behaviour that must be modified. "


One of the apps being used is BOSS™ - Behavioural Observation of Students in Schools. 

Scotland is not quite up to scratch with implementing the technology in classrooms, as the US leads the way, but it will have plenty of data, as fodder, for more apps and interventions. After all, it is designed to be the best place for children to grow up.

Now, we must get our Orwellian caps on and think about what that actually means. Who is this best for ?

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Former care worker jailed for six years

"A FORMER council care worker has been jailed for six years after committing a catalogue of rape and sexual abuse against vulnerable youngsters being looked after by a local authority."

"Gordon Collins abused his position to groom troubled children before molesting them at two children’s units in Edinburgh over an 11-year period from 1995."

"Collins, 59, of Wolsley Avenue, Bonnyrigg, in Midlothian, was finally brought to justice after a police cold case review sought out former residents in the homes."

"A judge told him: `You have been convicted by the jury of an appalling course of criminal conduct consisting of predatory sexual abuse of four young girls in your care`."

"Lady Wise pointed out that Collins had singled out victims for treats, outings or attention before exploiting them."

Read more:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

How the state silences whistleblowers

20 questions for Stephen House 21.04.15

The Docherty family
The UK Column has uploaded more audio tapes documenting what has happened to the Docherty family after a man approached them and offered £25,000 to have access to their autistic son.

"From the moment this couple reported those facts to the police," says Brian Gerrish, "they`ve been harassed, hunted; they`ve had to leave their house. They`ve had all of their children taken by the state and they have now disappeared. We have their testimony. We`re going to make sure the rest of that interview by David Scott of Northern Exposure becomes available. We`re going to encourage people to listen to it."
"But where is this couple? We think they`re currently held somewhere by the state in southern Ireland. That`s where they`ve gone for sanctuary. But as we`ve labelled there, this is a family that`s now effectively become like the South American disappeared. People get too close to the state and they literally disappear into the police and psychiatric gulag."
Melanie Shaw

"And if that case is not enough, I`m really sorry to have to say that child abuse survivor and whistle blower Melanie Shaw is now back in prison. We believe she`s in HMS prison Foston Hall. How has she got there? Because Melanie became increasingly distraught at the fact that her son - taken away by the British state - was, according to Melanie, being abused in care."

"So a child abuse survivor, brave enough to blow the whistle, then has her own child taken by the British state until she`s under such psychological pressure that she posted something on the internet and the next minute she`s back in prison."

"I have to say that watching Britain in 2016 - if we want to know how to get the lid off the quality of people we`ve got in Westminster - stick with the subject of the children because child abuse and the blackmail that follows it is the key weapon." 

Update 29.6.2016:  Janice and Brian Docherty are reported to be safe and well but forced to live a secret existence due to ongoing harassment.

Independent expert resigns from Scotland`s child abuse inquiry

"An independent expert has resigned from his position on Scotland’s child abuse inquiry claiming it is `doomed` due to Scottish Government interference."
"Professor Michael Lamb, a professor of psychology at Cambridge University, said the inquiry’s fact-finding was being `constrained` and `micro-managed` by ministers."

"QC Susan O’Brien is leading Scotland’s inquiry into the historical abuse of children in care, which is expected to last four years."

"Professor Lamb joined Ms O’Brien at a launch event in March during which the QC told abuse survivors the inquiry would `shine a light into the dark corners of the past`."

"But in an open letter to education secretary John Swinney, Mr Lamb said he had grown frustrated that the Scottish Government was continuing to interfere `in ways large and small, directly and indirectly`."

"He said: `Continuing interference threatens to prevent the Inquiry from investigating thoroughly and taking robust evidence of the highest quality`."

"`To be worthwhile, the inquiry must ask fearlessly about what happened to children in care, who and what institutions failed in their duties of care at the time and subsequently, how the affected individuals can ‘be made whole, and how we can ensure that such unconscionable events never happen again`."

"`Crucially, its fact-finding should not be constrained or micro-managed by one of the bodies whose actions or failures to act may ultimately be criticised`..."

Read more:

Monday, 27 June 2016

The explosion of bitterness from young people after Brexit

"Among the many divisions brought to the surface by the EU referendum, an apparent ‘generation war’ is raging. A recent poll, which found that most young voters chose to Remain, and most over-45s chose to Leave, has led to an explosion of bitterness from the younger sections of the electorate. Teenagers who are not yet old enough to vote and parents of young children are lamenting a supposedly lost future..."

"What is curious about this idea of a ‘wrinkly bastard stitch-up’, though, is that it actually represents an enormous trust placed by the older sections of the electorate in their children and grandchildren. Ironically for those emphasising just how few years older people have left to ‘live with the decision’, it is these supposedly selfish, short-sighted and nostalgic folk who will experience all the political and economic turmoil in the short term, without themselves having a central role to play in shaping what comes next."

I dislike the idea that the young are called snowflakes which I find disrespectful, just as I dislike the notion that the baby boomers should be regarded as selfish, wrinkly old bastards.

I`m sure that the elderly based their decisions in the referendum on their many years of experience. They would have worried about the world they would be leaving behind for their children and grandchildren.

Young people have always criticised their parents. I did it myself, and quite right too - because the young must flee the nest - but like most people I modified my opinions as I matured. Young people`s antagonisms towards their parents are tempered by love and allow each side to grow.

But the schisms being shaped between the generations by the media after Brexit are of a totally different order.

They are nasty. They are a force of destruction. Expect more.

Almost £90 million spent on instilling a military ethos in schools

"A third of a £6 million funding pot aimed at building character in school pupils will be targeted at military-style projects, prompting criticism from campaigners."

"The government has said that up to £2 million of its character education grant funding will this year pay for projects that have a `military ethos approach to develop character`."

"According to the Forces Watch campaign group, the latest announcement takes the total amount spent or earmarked by the government for projects aimed at instilling a military ethos in schools since 2012 to almost £90 million."

"Applications for this year have just closed, with schools having to wait until September to find out if they have been successful in their bids for between £50,000 and £750,000. The fund is separate to the department’s annual character education awards."

"Forces Watch, which scrutinises army recruitment practices, said the grant allocation was the latest in a series of big pay-outs related to military-style education, citing the £10 million Troops to Teachers recruitment scheme and £14 million already spent on the cadet expansion scheme, which received another £50 million last year."

"Emma Sangster, co-ordinator of the organisation, questioned the logic of the Department for Education’s approach when last year’s character awards had demonstrated a `wealth of other approaches`."

"Is this policy primarily about building character or is it about influencing young people about the benefits of the armed forces?"

"The increasing inclusion of military approaches in our education system has received almost no public scrutiny. There needs to be a full review of why this is happening and who benefits and what the concerns may be before any more money is spent on it."

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Rollercoaster derailed at Strathclyde theme park

"At least 10 people are thought to have been injured when a rollercoaster derailed and crashed into a children`s ride at a Scottish theme park..."

"Eyewitnesses say it crashed to the ground leaving a number of people trapped inside - while a group of heroic dads attempted to free them..."

"Chief inspector David Bruce said `A joint investigation by Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive is now under way,` reports the Daily Record..."

"Richard Lyle MSP, whose constituency includes Strathclyde Country Park where the theme park is situated called for a `full investigation` into the incident."

"He told STV: `I`m totally concerned and horrified at this terrible accident`..."

"M & D`s theme park has suffered a number of incidents since 2011, it has been claimed."

"The Tsunami ride, which today crashed to the ground and landed on a children`s ride first operated in Spain and France before coming to the UK in 2003 at the Hull Fair."

"The Italian-built ride was then transported to the Millennium Dome in London, where it spent the Christmas season before being dismantled and transported north to M & D`s at Strathclyde Park in 2004..."

"It is still not known what caused the rollercoaster to derail."

Student challenges history professor and is threatened with expulsion

"A Native American student at Cal State Sacramento University was told by her history teacher that there was no genocide against the indigenous population of North America. When the student, Chiitaanibah Johnson, took issue with this claim and challenged him, she was ejected from the class and expelled."

"The professor said he didn’t care for the term `genocide` as he didn’t think it accurately describes what happened in relation to Native American history."

"U.S. History Professor Maury Wiseman accused Johnson of `hijacking` his class when she challenged him on this. He also pointed out that he was very offended at her accusations that he was a `bigot` and `racist`..."

"By the end of the week, he had expelled her from the class, according to Vincent Schilling, writing for Indian Country Today Media Network."

"`The whole thing started on Wednesday,` Johnson said in an interview with ICTMN. `He was talking about Native America and he said the word genocide. He paused and said ‘I don’t like to use that word because I think it is too strong for what happened’ and ‘Genocide implies that it was on purpose and most native people were wiped out by European diseases`."

"At first, even though she was outraged at the professor’s comments, she decided against responding… So she wrote what he said down."

"`I wrote it down. I was enraged for what I felt were obvious reasons. I didn’t say anything [on Wednesday] because I knew that if I didn’t have anything specific to back it up in terms of tangible or solid evidence that he would not take my comments into consideration`."

"But on Friday, after the teacher’s discussion on the Iroquois Confederacy and the Portuguese expeditions, she confronted him she had no other choice..."

"So she stood up and began reading from an article by the United Nations that defined the term as `the deliberate killing of another people, a sterilization of people and/or a kidnapping of their children`."

"Humiliated in front of the class, the professor stopped her and he said,`that is enough`."

Read more

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Learning for the 21st century

It`s different to what was required in the 20th century because you don`t have to actually know anything. So they say.

Here`s Learning and the Brain:

"In an age where so much knowledge is easily found on Google, there is little advantage in carrying a lot of information in one’s own mind. What is valuable is the ability to ask critical questions, synthesize information to develop opinions and work with diverse others to achieve broad goals. But our educational systemat the prekindergarten through college levelfocuses on giving students knowledge rather than training them to be thinkers."

So they are going to study our brains while emptying our minds, all the better to manipulate us.

I think the recent emotional responses to the Brexit vote exposes how far the global educators have come. Few people interviewed felt it necessary to back up their opinions with facts.

Anger at police using dead children`s identities

"Bereaved parents tell inquiry of ‘emotional turmoil and anger’ at police using dead children’s identities to create alter egos."

"Bereaved parents have demanded that police reveal whether the identities of their dead children were stolen by undercover officers who spied on political groups."

"One of the parents told a public inquiry on Wednesday she had been left `quite sick` by the uncertainty over whether police had used the identity of her son who had died at the age of 15-months. Another parent whose son had died at two-days-old said she had suffered profound emotional turmoil and anger."

"In a practice that was kept secret for decades, undercover officers stole the identities of dead children to help develop the fictitious personas that they used when they spied on political groups. This was done without the consent or knowledge of the parents."

Image result for image sir bernard hogan-howe
"In 2013, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, gave a general apology for the `shock and offence the use of this tactic has caused`."

"However police have refused to tell any of the parents that their children had been used in this way. Their refusal is being challenged at a public inquiry into the undercover infiltration of hundreds of political groups since 1968."

"Lord Justice Pitchford, who is leading the inquiry, held a hearing to consider whether police have a duty to disclose to parents that the identities of their dead children had been stolen by undercover officers. He is due to publish a ruling at a later date."

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Social worker of 40 years fails to notice the difference between the role of social worker and Named Person

Colin Turbett, a retired social worker, has written in CommonSpace in favour of the Named Person scheme. Perhaps, because of his forty years experience in this field he presents a grim view of ordinary family life. Beginning his account by recalling an isolated community in Newfoundland he tells how social work services began targeting the area with state interventions, using frontline staff in schools and health settings, to root out the sexual abuse that had been going on in poor families for generations. That`s the story.

It is difficult to understand why he would confuse a serious child abuse matter in an isolated region in Canada - which he sees as a class issue - with what is going to be happening in Scotland regarding the Named Person service. It is as if he is suggesting that behind many closed doors in poor homes there lurks similar dark secrets. That is grotesquely insulting. Even so, Scotland already has its own child social work service, and teachers and health visitors already have a responsibility to look out for signs of abuse. So far, no different, and no need for a Named Person.

At this stage, Mr Turbett has failed to make a case for the Named Person which, after all, is a service to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person.

Mr Turbett then recalls Paula, who at four years old, had been pushed down the stairs by her father causing her face to be permanently disfigured. Because of this and her difficult background, she grew up lacking confidence, left school to be jobless at sixteen and was pregnant at seventeen. With a referral from the midwife, there followed a social work assessment which judged Paula to be lacking the basic skills required to take care of her baby. The child was then removed at birth.
"We offered her as much support as we could this even involved taking her out and purchasing underwear something her mum had never done as she grew up and she had never experienced herself, and trying hard to improve her sense of self worth."
I cannot imagine a set of circumstances less likely to inspire confidence or a sense of self worth in a young woman.

The point Mr Turbett is making, of course, is that had there been earlier intervention in Paula`s life, things may have turned out differently. But that is impossible to know. What we can infer is that action was taken in the life of this seventeen  year old girl, instigated by the midwife - a potential Named Person - and the only intervention on offer was forced adoption, which is no support at all. That actually means there is a good case to be made for putting resources where they are needed, that is with the Paula`s of this world, rather than with a universal system that most people do not need.

The rest of the article is a disjointed mish mash about the inequalities created by capitalism and neoliberalism that does nothing to illuminate the role of the Named Person or why anybody should support it.
"Capitalism and its inequalities create such circumstances and state interventions are needed all too often in Scotland’s poorer communities. This is certainly a class issue and one where state intrusion into family life should take place in order to look after the most vulnerable."
Confusingly, he goes on to say: 
"NP will no doubt focus on working class people for obvious reasons but it should also pick up on the less visible middle class child victims who are largely absent from social work caseloads."

 Like many supporters of the Named Person schemeColin Turbett, despite his experience of forty years, fails to acknowledge that the role of social workers and Named Persons are different. [One wonders if he ever got around to reading the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014] The former is set up to rescue children from abuse, whereas the latter - to put it in a nutshell - is a tool to monitor the `happiness` of all children.

As for Named Persons and their potential to intrude at an early stage, the workforce itself is worried about the extra responsibilities.
"We are becoming social workers and the named person role will add responsibility and stress to experienced health visitors and probably greater stress to newly qualified health visitors. The amount of information that will be passed to health visitors will be like an avalanche. Education has already been told that the health visitors are the named person and are passing information which isn't health issues on a regular basis. The assessments which will be linked to the named person will be time consuming and complex at a time when core business is increasing with a computer system which isn't fit for purpose."

Like all supporters of the Named Person scheme, the data grab that underlines the legislation is never mentioned.

Nobody explains it better than Alison Preuss. See her `must read` article in TES below:

John Swinney`s astonishing performance at Holyrood while dodging answering a legitimate question.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Ben Butler convicted of killing his six-year-old daughter

"No reporter who heard Neal Gray tell the judge she would have “blood on her hands” if she returned his young granddaughter to her birth parents would have been able to publish his anguished warning. It was given as evidence four years ago against Ben Butler at an appeal heard by the family judge Mrs Justice Hogg. Hogg did return Ellie to her birth parents, and yesterday Butler was convicted of killing his six-year-old daughter in 2013."
"In contrast to what happens in a criminal trial, which is held in public, journalists may not publish what goes on in front of a family judge. To do so is a contempt; the sanction is a fine and jail.
There is an almost total lack of transparency in family courts: cases are held in private, and witness evidence and judicial decisions are still, to all intents and purposes, secret. The intention is to safeguard individuals’ privacy at what is likely to be at best an acutely embarrassing, and at worst, immensely painful time in their life. But a shocking lack of public scrutiny and accountability has become the result."

"The ban on reporting means decisions made by judges, as well as evidence given and processes followed - sometimes extremely poorly - by local authority social work departments in care cases, are simply not subject to any sort of scrutiny. Had Gray’s warning been reported, together with the overwhelming witness evidence from the council, police and medical experts against Butler’s fitness to be a parent, there would have been opportunities for significant public debate about the judicial decision that was reached."

"As it was, the only version of events and assessment of the quality of evidence given in court that was allowed to reach the public domain was the ruling handed down by the judge. Reporting of what went on in court may not have saved Ellie. But grave decisions that affect the future of vulnerable children and entire families should not be allowed to evade public view in the name of privacy. Although there are difficulties, as I have discovered over 18 months of struggling to report on the family courts, it is possible to do so responsibly while including a great deal of detail in the public interest."

SNP plan to take schools out of council control

by Mel Kelly

"SNP announced they will give head teachers and parents more say in how schools are run - while the real plan is to give businessmen control - just like Cameron."

"The SNP plan is to let businessmen, rather than elected councillors control all schools and Scotland`s £3 billion annual education budget - with the plan being, maybe a parent and an odd pupil can be on the new unelected board - with SNP saying they may allow an elected councillor to sit on the board - but the elected councillor, unlike the businessmen, will have no voting power."

"And schools are to be managed in `clusters` - the word the SNP choose to use - rather than Academy Chains - as SNP`s plan is to roll out David Cameron`s outsourcing of control of all schools - so our kids education and school budgets can be plundered and sent to the Cayman Islands - as has been happening across England since the coalition seized power."

"This is David Cameron`s policy - which was why head teachers from academy chains and Oxford academics all met in Scotland to discuss the plot."

"Combined with this is the plot to allow these businessmen to use schoolchildren, now in their hands, to work in their local business for free - under the guise of education - over a 2 year period - in a very little known scheme being piloted right now, Foundation Apprenticeships - where children are being taken out of their classrooms, over a two year period, in fourth and fifth year to be sent to nursing homes to work as unpaid labour."!10-things-to-know-this-week/cjds/3

"The Certificate of Work Readiness (CWR) gives young people a recognisable qualification, to show employers they have relevant experience for the workplace."

 Here`s the hard sell:

Fear over loss of support staff in Moray council

"PARENTS OF CHILDREN with special needs in Moray are gathering themselves for a battle with Moray Council as they fear wholesale redundancies for specialist staff. "

"While the local authority is yet to confirm their precise intentions, several parents insist that some classroom support assistants have already been told they will not have a job after the summer holidays."

Councillor Anne Skene"Currently, Moray Council is undertaking a review on how it provides support for pupils with additional needs throughout its school estate. This week the chair of the children and young people’s services committee, Councillor Anne Skene, insisted that the plans involved some reorganisation and confirmed that jobs would be lost `at some schools`."

"However, she insisted that the precise changes in each school would depend on `the individual nature of children who go to them`, adding: `Some schools will get a reduction in hours, some will get an increase in hours. That inevitably means the schools getting a reduction will employ less staff and those with more hours will get more staff`."

 The Children and Young People`s Services Committee webcast will be live on Wednesday June 2016 - 9.30 am.

Boring teacher struck off in Scotland

"An English teacher has been struck off after pupils and parents complained about her `boring` lessons."

"Gillian Scott, who taught at Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, did not motivate her `disinterested` students or effectively explain her teaching plans to them, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) said."

"Teachers who observed Ms Scott, 33, between 2011 and 2013 claimed she spent three lessons reading a novel to one class without allowing them to ask questions. They also alleged she set the same essay task - titled `what I did in activities week` - for several different year groups."

"Pupils also dubbed the lessons the `puni class` due to the disproportionate number of punishment exercises, it was said."

"In another example, Ms Scott, who studied at university in Glasgow and Strathclyde, is said to have shown a class a clip of Jurassic Park before making them copy what she said about characterisation in relation to the film."

"She was removed from the teaching register for two years following a seven-day hearing in Edinburgh, which concluded on May 23."

"In its ruling the GTCS said the panel found `extensive failings` in Ms Scott's ability to plan..."

"Ms Scott, who did not attend the hearing and who now teaches English at a private college abroad, admitted in an email submission on May 1 that she could have handled situations - both in the classroom and with colleagues - differently."

"But Ms Scotts father, James Scott, 67, told The Daily Telegraph his daughter, who he represented during the hearing, was subjected to `endless supervision` at the school, which resulted in an `unfair` conclusion..."

Many of the examples given for the teacher`s failings had to do with her teaching style. She was criticised for leading from the front of the class, not introducing active or co-operative learning; failing to recap the learning intentions at the end of the lesson and failing to provide success criteria. Exam results were not accepted as evidence that her teaching style was effective.
Scenes from the battleground has blogged about this case and points out that these teaching fads are now no longer endorsed in England by OSTED.
"I still haven’t read every part of this case. It is complex and a lot has been written and I am not familiar with the Scottish system. But what I do know is that this year in Scotland, failing to comply with fads from ten or twenty years ago, which have no proven benefit for learning, can be used as evidence that you are not fit to teach."
"The evidence is that there was far more to the striking off than teaching styles, for instance, the teacher had been a whistle blower."

The cynical use of the murder of Jo Cox

Within hours of the murder of Jo Cox MP, a special fund was opened up to raise funds for certain causes. One of those causes is the White Helmets in Syria. This is an organisation of first responders who are supposed to go into war torn areas and rescue people from the rubble, but is actually a prop for the terrorist groups creating these problems in the first place. NATO, the US and the UK are all involved.

The refugee crises in Europe has been engineered by our own government.

This topic was covered in UK Column News today.

An earlier broadcast goes into more depth about the White Helmets.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Joined up services ?

What the Scottish Government proposes is joined up services - data sharing - and the total view of the citizen.

Total view of the citizen ?

That is unpopular, so they are going to begin with data sharing in the name of children`s wellbeing.

Let`s think about that.

Case should be reheard after couple has been acquitted

"A family court judge has ordered the fact-finding hearing of a case where parents had their child adopted be reheard after the couple were acquitted of criminal charges of causing injuries to their child."

"The chief of the family courts, Sir James Munby, ruled that a new fact-finding hearing was necessary for the parents of a child, referred to as X, who was born in 2012, and has been living with his adoptive parents since 2014."

"The unnamed local authority had concerns after a series of injuries on X were identified, and a judge found the case against the parents proved. The judge later refused the birth parents leave to oppose the adoption, and made an adoption order in 2015."

No case to answer

"However, at a subsequent criminal trial, “the expert evidence had expanded both in volume and, very significantly, in its ambit, but at the date of the hearing before the judge in the family court this new evidence was not to hand”."

"Prosecution against the parents was later abandoned, and they were acquitted “on the basis that there was no case to answer”."

"The birth parents then launched an appeal against the original fact-finding decision in care proceedings. The appeal was supported by the child’s guardian and the adopted parents. However, the adoptive parents said they would oppose any application to undo the adoption order..."

The rehearing will happen in October 2016.


It`s always a good idea not to jump to conclusions about what may happen to a family in the future; especially before all the evidence of what happened in the past has been tested in court.

Is Goddard going beyond the inquiry`s terms of reference ?

by Joshua Rozenberg

"As its terms of reference make clear, the purpose of [the Goddard] inquiry is to consider the extent to which institutions have failed in their duty to protect children from sexual abuse in the past and to identify action needed to protect children in the future."

"Under the Inquiries Act 2005, she must not ‘determine any person’s civil or criminal liability’ although an inquiry panel ‘is not to be inhibited… by any likelihood of liability being inferred from facts that it determines or recommendations that it makes’..."

"And in her opening statement last year, Goddard claimed that ‘the naming of people that have been responsible for the sexual abuse of children… is a core aspect of the inquiry’s function’. That seems pretty close to breaking the ban on deciding liability..."

"Perhaps frustrated by the Janner family’s entirely understandable decision to take no part in the inquiry, Goddard made a formal request for information to the solicitors acting for his estate. In a 29-page response, Michael Pether, from the insurance specialists BLM, told Goddard her inquiry was ‘akin to prosecuting a dead man’."

"What Janner’s children knew of their father’s professional and personal life totally contradicted the allegations against him, Pether said. They unequivocally believed that the allegations were false."

"There was also a risk that Goddard’s findings of fact might prejudice civil claims against the estate, Pether said. Many, if not all, of the complainants were seeking damages; although no claims had been received until last summer, when Janner’s dementia was so severe that he could no longer respond..."

"Pether claims that Janner was framed by Beck and another man, who is still alive. Shortly after Beck’s conviction, Janner told his fellow MPs that Beck and the other man had colluded to ‘make disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations of criminal conduct’ against him."

"Janner named the man at the time. He was also named last year, perhaps unwittingly, by the Daily Mail. But because he says that he was the victim of a sexual assault, I am not allowed to identify him. He is referred to by the Goddard inquiry as witness A31 and by Sir Richard Henriques, in a report to the DPP earlier this year, as complainant 1."

"Janner said in parliament that he and his family had tried to help complainant 1 in the mid-1970s, when he was a deprived youngster living in a Leicestershire children’s home. Pether told Goddard that Janner’s family saw this ‘as a continuation of his track record of outstanding and admirable, possibly naive, hospitality, befriending and endless generosity’."


In response to Anne Wade who wanted to know why Janner was not prosecuted 25 years ago:

Rozenberg says: "The answer may have been an establishment cover-up, as she says. Equally, it may have been that prosecutors did not think that the available evidence would stand up in court."

"If Goddard can find out which it was, fine. I don't suppose that the answer will protect children from abuse in the future but it's certainly within her terms of reference."

Perhaps determining whether or not the establishment covered up child abuse 25 years ago might give clues as to the extent of cover-ups today ?

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Keeping the child at the centre

"An ambitious plan to ensure children across North Ayrshire get the best possible start has been launched. Called “Getting it Right For You”, the far-reaching strategy will be implemented over the next four years to improve children’s services and is a North Ayrshire first. It is based on the life of a child, covering the early years, primary and secondary school and contains a range of `promises`."

"The plan is the strategic response to the Children Count survey – one of the most powerful pieces of work carried out in developing children’s services in North Ayrshire. Almost 8000 young people and 630 families with young children took part in the survey which was designed by the Dartington Social Research Unit – a pioneering independent charity using data and evidence to influence policy to improve children’s outcomes."


All very positive until you look at some of the promises which have resulted from the Children Count survey:

• your mum will have a named midwife who will look after both of you
• if your mum smokes, drinks alcohol or takes substances when she is pregnant with you, we will offer her a programme to help her to stop
• we will help your mum if she wants to breastfeed, as this is best for you
• we will support your dad and family members as they will be of great support to you and your mum
• you will have a named person (health visitor) who will be there for you and your family
• we will help your mum and dad learn what is important to be a supportive and confident parent.

In other words, there is little confidence in the quality of parenting in North Ayrshire and for the next eighteen years the Named Person will  keep a firm grip of mum and dad.

It`s called keeping the child at the centre. If ever a policy was designed to build a wedge between parents and their children, this is it.

Transforming children`s services conference Perth march 2016
John Swinney MSP, speaking at the `transforming children`s services conference` explains the thinking behind the data driven `learning journey` that is GIRFEC.
It means professionals working in collaboration, planning and designing early interventions and preventative services so that problems within families are nipped in the bud now, reducing the expenditure of more serious developments in the future. Since nobody can say what will happen in the future, that has got to be an act of faith.

Regardless, Mr Swinney feels that progress has been too slow and urges service providers to get on with it.
Knowing that the child is at the centre - for who does not support children`s wellbeing? - practitioners should have the confidence to break out of their silos, join together, and deal aggressively with objections from people and organisations who would set up barriers to this unified endeavour.
A unified endeavour that must deal with objectors aggressively; but that has got to include parents. Scary.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Parents should have lessons provided by the government

'Parenting and Public Health' - Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown from curious ostrich on Vimeo.

Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown seems to come from the same school as Sir Harry Burns when she talks about the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the life course but she does admit that adverse events occur in all social groups although at a higher level in disadvantaged groups.

"Research evidence has a great power to persuade," she says; but it is unclear what the data is telling us or what the audience is being persuaded to do; other than propagating the myth of the first three years.


Recent pronouncements are more forthright:

"Parents should have lessons provided by the government on how to raise their children, Britain's leading public health expert has said."

"Professor John Ashton, outgoing president of the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), said children were neglected by some schools and parents..."

"One in 10 children aged five to 16 years had a mental health problem that warranted support and treatment, the report said."

"And the quality of the parent-child relationship and parenting more broadly played a primary role..."

"Prof Sarah Stewart-Brown, who produced the report, said diet and activity played a role in mental health but `supporting parenting is key. The first 1,001 days of a child's life are particularly important`."

Highland Council`s deputy leader has broken ranks

"Highland Council`s deputy leader has broken ranks condemning the Scottish Government`s so-called named person policy as `intrusive nonsense` imposed by `SNP dictators`."
"Ross-shire councillor Alasdair Rhind, a member of the minority independent-led council that has piloted the initiative is horrified by its involvement in the project."
"The father of three adult children said: `I`m totally against it. It`s an intrusion of government into family life. The government is way off the mark`."
"`The best people to look after children are their parents`."
"`Children are monitored from their nursery days into primary education and secondary education. Parents may not know that, but they are monitored at all stages within the education system and that is adequate enough`."
"He said countless constituents in his Tain and Easter Ross ward had criticised the named person scheme as `ridiculous`."
"He added: `This government are wanting to intrude into people`s personal lives and be dictators to people and we can`t have that, really. They should back off that scheme. And I`m pleased to see some of the opposition parties opposing it`."
 To get an idea of how authoritarian the named person approach will be, have a look at North Ayrshire Children`s Services Plan 2016-2020 Getting it Right for You

Teaching union votes for work to rule

"Members of the country's largest teaching union, the EIS, have voted overwhelmingly for a work to rule."

"Their concerns are related to the work linked to the new school qualifications."

"Education Secretary John Swinney said: `The result of today's ballot is disappointing albeit on what appears to be a low turnout`."

"He added: `Given that we are addressing the issues of teacher workload, industrial action in our schools would not be in the interests of anyone, least of all pupils and parents`. "

"The union said members voted in favour of action by 95% to 5%..."

"The work to rule will be targeted at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) - there is no suggestion of school activities being affected."

"Earlier this week, the Scottish government called on unions to come up with ideas for cutting the workload."

"General secretary Larry Flanagan said: `Scotland's secondary teachers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action against the severe workload burden that has been generated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority`."

"`This ballot result reflects the frustration of Scotland's secondary teachers over the excessive assessment demands being placed on them and their pupils, particularly around unit assessments at National 5 and Higher; and the EIS now has a very clear mandate to implement an immediate work-to-contract in relation to SQA activity.`"

Parents are suing over bathroom policy

"A group of North Carolina parents are suing the Obama administration over its policy that forces public schools to allow transgender students into restrooms, showers, and locker rooms that are opposite from their biological sex."

"To read more about the lawsuit:"

Scottish Human Rights Commission submits poverty report to UN

"A report into poverty in Scotland and the way it blights lives has been compiled for the United Nations (UN)."

"The world body has been alerted to various aspects of inequality in the country including the impact of welfare reform and austerity measures on human rights."

"In particular, the report focusses on how these affect women, disabled people, children and young people, pensioners on low incomes and ethnic minorities."

"The Scottish Human Rights Commission has submitted the document to the UN setting out ways in which poverty means people in Scotland’s economic, social and cultural rights are not being met."

"It has been compiled as part of a review taking place in Geneva, by the UN Committee for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)."

"With new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament, the commission will be sharpening its focus on ensuring our governments and public authorities meet their human rights obligations."

"The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will publish its findings on Scotland and the UK’s implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in July."


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Condolences to Jo Cox family

Multi-classes, teacher shortages and Curriculum for Excellence

"In a large city school in Scotland, a chemistry teacher nervously awaits the arrival of her next class. Helen (not her real name) is very aware the stakes are high for the Higher Chemistry students in her class the grades they secure will prove critical in determining whether they can secure entry to university."

"Having taught for many years, this prospect wouldnt normally cause Helen much anxiety, but this year is different. The class filing into the lab is a multicourse group, consisting not just of students studying the Higher course (typically ages 1618), but also students studying for the National 5 chemistry course (typically ages 1516)."

"With the examinable content of these courses being largely mutually exclusive, Helen has spent a lot of time planning lessons for this composite class. She has attempted to devise activities and strategies to ensure that both National 5 and Higher students can be offered equal levels of teacher support during each lesson."

"Despite her best efforts, shes had no alternative but to offer extra tutorial sessions for these students during lunchtime and after school."

"A survey undertaken by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Education Division Regional Committee in Scotland shows that Helens predicament may be more common in Scotlands schools than we previously thought."

"Multicourse classes and the challenges they present for teachers and students are an unintended consequence of the ways in which the Curriculum for Excellence the most ambitious and wide-reaching Scottish educational reform in a generation has been implemented in some schools."

What I can say about this is multicourse classes and the challenges they represent are not only due to unintended consequences of the way Curriculum for Excellence has been implemented. That may be part of the problem, but multicourses are also a consequence of teacher shortages.

Now shortages of science teachers are accepted as the norm, unfortunately, because those with science degrees have so many other options and little has been done to encourage these graduates into teaching.

As for the rest: "They`re doing their nut in," says my granddaughter who is in a multicourse history class (Mixed N5/higher) and gets on great with her teachers. I also know these teachers are doing their very best for her.

It`s just a pity about Curriculum for Excellence.

And the shortage of teachers in general !