Sunday, 29 March 2015

Assault allegations at nursery in Busby

"A NURSERY is being investigated by police over claims children were physically abused by a female worker."

"It is claimed the staff member may have assaulted five boys and girls under four at the Happy Days Too nursery in Busby, near Glasgow."

"The 25-year-old woman who is alleged to have carried out the attacks quit last month after she was suspended and an internal inquiry launched. She had only joined in August last year."

"The nursery is run by chartered accountant and businessman Dougie MacAulay. He is also the owner and boss of CME Investments Ltd, who manage Happy Days Too and another nursery, Happy Days, in nearby Mearnskirk."

"MacAulay also sits on the board of MG ALBA, the body responsible for funding Gaelic programming in Scotland."

"He contacted parents last week to inform them about the alleged incidents. He also told them he had alerted Police Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council, the government body PVG (Protection of Vulnerable People), The Care Inspectorate and East Renfrewshire Council Social Services Department."

"Parents were told in letters last week that it was the first time in 20 years he had to take action like this."

"The nursery have offered support and assistance to parents."

"In the letter, MacAulay said: "A female ex-member of staff has been reported to the relevant authorities for alleged inappropriate behaviour."

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Forced adoption in UK

The documentary also covers the Mark and Kerry McDougall case. They fled to Ireland after Fife social workers removed...
Posted by Human Rights for Elderly on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Politically speaking, the threat to families is real, and the possibility of resistance is weakened by the ever growing adoption industry. 

Parents learning to parent in Curriculum for Excellence

"Jackie Brock is chief executive of Children in Scotland, the umbrella body for the children’s sector, including education, health, social care, early years and childcare. It has more than 430 members and its staff are delivering a wide range of projects and programmes in schools and other settings, with an array of public, private and third sector partners."

She represents some of the bodies who will be working in partnership with Education Scotland and schools to help close the attainment gap and has written an article in Third Force News: "Why rich kids do better at school."
We would like to see Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) updated to underline that it is Scotland’s approach to learning for all – from birth throughout adulthood. If we are to have an unrelenting focus on improving educational attainment, we need to recognise formally within CfE that learning begins from birth and that the pre-formal learning experiences of a child before the age of three – together with the love and support provided by their parents, carers and professionals – provide the crucial pre-conditions for future effective learning.
A commenter hits the mark:
Well that is a sensationalist headline. The article isn't actually about why rich kids do better but how to eliminate the attainment gap and should actually reflect that. .However I have serious reservations about what this article actually states. They are attempting to box up the CfE into measurable outcomes so that children are assessed from birth to adulthood at every potential level. This is fundamentally wrong we need to focus on giving them the opportunity to be who they can and want to be.
The statement I find particularly troubling is - 'that the pre-formal learning experiences of a child before the age of three – together with the love and support provided by their parents, carers and professionals – provide the crucial pre-conditions for future effective learning.' Firstly what does pre-formal mean. I believe it to mean assessment assessment assessment and if they aren't where they are suppose to be in the pre-formal learning experience then somebody will be to blame. [That will be the parents.]

Another article appears in Third Force News on the same topic. This one is by Angela Morgan who gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament`s Education Committee last week as part of their inquiry into how to close the attainment gap.
Focused intervention requires more resources in the classroom – particularly in areas of deprivation, but it cannot stop at the school gates. We need to focus on improving parent/child and child/school relationships and on identifying and, crucially, understanding the underlying causes of why the young person is not engaging.
Finally, these interventions need to happen early and at all stages to stop young people from becoming excluded from education in the first place. [Early and at all stages. Yes the above commenter got it right.]

The Spring edition of `Early Years Matters` is now available. The first article is about the Children and Families Team who explain what they do and generously proclaim.
We all know that parents and families have a key role to play in supporting the success and wellbeing of their children. The role of the children and families team in Education Scotland is to provide high-quality leadership to enable families to learn together and support children and young people’s learning and development, and to improve outcomes across Early Learning.

Education in Scotland used to be about educating children in school but somehow it has all been re-worked so that there is never a mention of educating children without also referring to families. Families need to learn how to support their children and they need to start early is the constant refrain.

No credit is given to the natural resilience of children themselves.

No thought is given to the fact that children, particularly in the early years, cannot stop themselves from developing and learning. We have all been children who developed in the early years without formal education and should know that. The Families Team claim too much credit for themselves I think and the advice, support and challenge they offer in relation to working with children and families in the early years is, for the most part, superfluous to requirements.

Does anybody else get the impression that the Scottish Education plan is consolidating and the net is closing in around children and families ?

Friday, 27 March 2015

NO to the Named Person in Glasgow

The Named Person closes a gap and formulates what should be happening anyway according to Alex Cole-Hamilton in the above video. It offers a single point of contact for families who are struggling and need a little bit of support. He makes the Named Person sound harmless.

In practice things are a good deal more sinister.

David Scot talking to UK Column Live yesterday gives an example: An Aberdeen woman was informed that her 13 year old daughter was taken to see the school nurse for a chat. The little chat included questions like:

"Who do you live with? Where do your other siblings live? Do they live nearby? Do your parents work? What jobs do they do ? Do you have any pets? How many pets do you have? Do you sleep well?

"When the girl said she sleeps well the nurse, who was not the school nurse - this was a special nurse brought in for this - said: `Oh no bed wetting then !` "

"She then started asking her about menstruation and who she talks to in her family about this. She asked: `Do you feel loved and cared for? Are you listened to? Do you have a good relationship with your parents?` "

"So these are the questions coming from the Named Person legislation. These are the questions that our schoolchildren are being asked by anonymous state functionaries. The mother was told that she had in fact consented to this investigation even though she had no idea she had consented They were claiming some general consent to some programme called the CORE programme and were given permission for this. And they then tried to justify it in terms of SHANARRI, GIRFEC and all the alphabet soup of ideas that underpin it. She concludes: `I was so angry I could barely speak but I asked for a copy of the notes that had been taken and the boxes ticked during my daughter`s little chat.` "

" `Oh that`s confidential,` replied the nurse. `We have to respect your daughter`s confidentiality.` "

"She said: `This is not over by any means - I intend to get the notes and will ensure my daughter will never be subjected to this again.`"  [She may find that difficult because twelve year old children are considered Gilleck competent and can give consent themselves.]

David Scott continued: "That`s actually quite typical of how people react when they find out what this is really about. There`s going to be a lot of anger over this."

GIRFEC`s similarities to Every Child Matters

There followed some discussion about GIRFEC and its similarities to ECM (Every Child Matters) in England and Wales which was introduced by the Blair government. Although the title ECM has been dropped by the coalition government, all systems are still in place, apart from ContactPoint the database which was scrapped. These include multi-agency working, early interventions, data sharing, and a focus on wellbeing. Although they do not have a Named Person, there is little doubt that Westminster will be keeping a wary eye on Scotland to see how things work out. Meanwhile data is being scooped by and through other policies.

It is important that people realise that there is a push towards data surveillence and totalitarian state control and there is no political party seriously opposing it. Any opposition between political parties, such as it is, is a puppet show.

Public meeting in Glasgow

A public meeting was held in Glasgow on Monday 23 March 2015 at the Hilton hotel by the NO2NP group which has been going around Scotland informing people of the legislation and the judicial challenge being made by the organisation against it. As the group goes around the country, meetings are getting larger but there are still many people who have not heard of the Named Person legislation. "It was part of a much larger bill," says David Scott, "And it was not exactly well publicised. When people hear about it they are shocked."

"One chap who has a senior position in the NHS asked: `What does civil disobedience look like in this situation?`" [That is a really good question because the state has the power to remove children from families. With that threat hanging over parents, opposition might prove difficult if there are only a few families doing so. It will take large numbers.]

For more information
Or to sign the petition against the Named Person
Or to find out what more you can do - contact NO2NP at link below

Benefit cap affects children

Image of a sad looking child sitting on a bench with the following text: "73% of people hit by the Benefit Cap are children"
"Speaking to the Committee on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in connection with the issue of the incorporation of the UNCRC into UK law, Dr Atkinson, the outgoing Children’s Commissioner said that she did not necessarily favour full incorporation of the UNCRC as it would "probably take up too much parliamentary time and not necessarily be realised". She suggested an incremental process:"

"What you do—almost by stealth, setting precedents from the High Court and Supreme Court benches—is nibble away. You get people to recognise that the rights of the child are not a scary set of tenets or concepts, but inherent in a civilised society."

Recently there was an opportunity to nibble away in the Supreme Court over the benefit cap.

"The Supreme Court was sharply divided... over whether the benefit cap breaches the Human Rights Act. The controversial cap limits the total amount of benefits an out-of-work family can receive, including housing benefit and benefits for children, to £500 per week. It is applied regardless of family size or circumstances such as rental costs. As a result, lone parents with children in large families are disproportionately affected, both because they are more likely to be hit by the cap and because they are less likely to be able to avoid its effects."

"Five judges heard the appeal brought by two single mothers and their children who had fled violent and abusive husbands. Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group intervened. All the judges agreed that the cap has a disproportionate impact on lone parents, who are overwhelmingly women."

"The issue for the Court was whether this put the Government in breach of its obligations under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex) and Article 3(1) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (which requires the Government to treat the best interests of children as a primary consideration in all decisions)."

"The Court was split three ways. On one side were Lady Hale and Lord Kerr, who both gave strongly worded dissenting judgments. They would have allowed the appeal and declared that the regulations breached Article 14 of the European Convention. In introducing the cap the Government had failed to comply with its obligations under the UN Convention to treat children’s interests as a primary consideration. "

"On the other side were Lords Reed and Hughes. They found that the Government had had the best interests of children in mind when introducing the cap. Further, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was not incorporated into UK law and could not be relied upon in a case involving sex discrimination under the Human Rights Act.."

"That left Lord Carnwath to provide the swing vote. He agreed with Lady Hale and Lord Kerr that the Government had not shown compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children’s benefits (such as child benefit and child tax credit) are intended for the children, not the parent:"
The cap has the effect that for the first time some children will lose these benefits, for reasons that have nothing to do with their own needs, but are related solely to the circumstances of their parents. [126]
"After further submissions he changed his mind. As a result, the appeal was dismissed by a majority, with Lord Carnwath stating his hope that the Government will reconsider the effect on children when it reviews the cap."

"The breaches of children’s rights would have to be settled "in the political, rather than the legal arena" [133]. So we end up with what looks like a closely fought but unsatisfactory compromise: a majority found that the benefit cap breaches the UK’s international obligations towards children, but another majority held that it is not unlawful as a matter of domestic law."

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Human capital for the global economy

The extract comes from Anita Hoge`s "Womb to Tomb" A New Managed Economy: Education, Health, Labour. (Link above)

She provides documentary evidence that there is a system of education in the US that has as its primary task the preparation of children for the future workforce: a system that moulds students` behaviour, attitudes and values into government approved standards. (Human capital for the global economy.)

Working assumptions

Schools, by themselves, cannot be held accountable for children`s readiness to become successful learners. A partnership must exist among families, the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), other community agencies, businesses and the local school to truly ensure every child`s readiness for success in school. Adoption by the State Board of Education of these recommendations for school improvement and accountability will establish the partnership as state policy for all agencies under the control and direction of the governor and State Board of Education.

In developing this readiness through shared responsibility, programs need to be family centred, community based and focused on building family and community strengths that will enable families to identify their needs, mobilise supportive resources and plan for acquisition of needed services. Services should be delivered in a manner that supports and promotes the integrity and unique needs of the family unit and respects racial, ethnic and divergent family demographics.

All children and families must be afforded access to physical and mental health care systems (including pre and postnatal care) without regard to income or financial resources. Self-sufficiency for families is most likely to be achieved through education and training for employment. Good physical and mental health and appropriate support systems are key to developing self-sufficiency.

(Approved June 22 1993)Adult literacy is an integral part of a continuous system of education.

Adults in the work force must continue to learn and retrain to live and work successfully in today`s world. A nation at risk must become a `nation of learners` to be competitive in a global economy...

Schools and districts must be held accountable for achieving adult literacy in Florida.

Research indicates that the literacy level of the parent or guardian significantly influences the educational achievement of the child....

Inter- and intra-agency cooperation and collaboration strengthen the quantity and quality of programs.


At one time parents sent their children to school to be educated, supervised their homework and attended the odd parent/teacher meeting but mostly left the professionals to get on with their job.

What is interesting about the above extract is the idea that schools in Florida cannot be expected to get children ready to be successful learners by themselves. There has to be a partnership between schools, families and Rehabilitative Services.

This was approved in 1993. So the idea that parents must be drawn into a partnership in order to prepare their children for learning is one that has been around for quite some time. Learning should be a constant preparation for work, right into adulthood and beyond. Failure to meet approved educational outcomes is a matter of health and rehabilitation.

The Scottish Government has similar ideas. It expects Education authorities to work in partnership with schools, parents and other relevant bodies in order to close the attainment gap for which parents are held responsible. Children are to have workforce learning in primary schools and are expected to be lifelong learners and adaptable workers. Failure in learning is a wellbeing concern requiring team effort around the family.

I think we`re all heading in the same direction.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

50 police officers arrested for suspected access to child pornography

 "Fifty police officers across the UK have been arrested as part of a crackdown on suspected paedophiles who pay to access child pornography websites, detectives revealed [24 March 2015]. The officers were among 1,300 people arrested on suspicion of accessing or downloading indecent images of children – some as young as five – from US-based Internet sites."
"At a press conference at Scotland Yard  ..., Jim Gamble, assistant chief constable of the National Crime Squad, said he was not surprised at the number of police officers among the suspects. `As police officers, we should expect to be held accountable,` he said. `Fifty police officers have been identified and we are not hiding that fact. We want you to know about that to reassure you`..."

"Mr Gamble said the 50 officers were among 1,200 Britons who had been identified as `category one or two` suspects – those who posed the greatest potential risk to children. In addition, 40 children nationwide – 28 of them in London – had been identified as being at risk of being abused and appropriate steps had been taken with other agencies to ensure that all the youngsters were safe..."

"The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Carole Howlett, said today’s raids represented the single largest operation of its kind mounted so far by the force...Ms Howlett also announced that the Home Office had agreed to allocate an extra £500,000 to support further action as part of Operation Ore. She said the money would be used to provide extra training in computer forensics for officers across the country and to buy more equipment for analysing computers seized."

"Commenting on today’s operation, children’s charity NSPCC said it had been assisting the Met by responding to any emerging child protection matters..."

"Operation Ore is the UK wing of a huge FBI operation which traced 250,000 paedophiles worldwide last year through credit card details used to pay for downloading child porn."

School partnerships

Despite Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) and Curriculum for Excellence to improve children`s outcomes in Scotland, it seems that that is not going to be enough to produce successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. It does make you wonder how much it is going to take.

The Education (Scotland) Bill 2015 has the objective of narrowing the attainment gap between children and young people from more and less disadvantaged backgrounds.

Does this mean more teachers, more support workers, smaller classrooms, providing the best qualified teachers in the most disadvantaged schools perhaps ?

Not exactly.

The Government expects Education authorities to work in partnership with schools, parents and other relevant bodies to deliver this change. Notice how disadvantaged parents are right in the middle of this. There is no doubt that as well as being worked with, parents will be worked on. A clue can be found in the National Parenting Strategy.

"The National Parenting Strategy seeks to turn that aspiration (i.e GIRFEC) into practical action - by championing the importance of parents to Scottish society, by strengthening the support on offer to parents and by making it easier to access that support. Put simply, by helping our nation`s parents be the very best they can be to make a positive difference to children and young people..."

"It`s well proven that children do better when parents and schools work together. However, not all parents find it easy to be involved in their child`s learning. Challenging family circumstance, separation, busy working lives and communication difficulties - these are some of the barriers that parents face and that schools must do their best to overcome in order to help every parent support their child at school."

Parental Supports

Every Day`s a Learning Day
Healthy weight programmes
Secure Parent-child attachments
Triple P
Parenting Years

There are bound to be more programmes as Education authorities begin working in partnership with schools, parents and those unnamed `other relevant bodies.`

And if parents don`t agree? The named person will be sure to have some wellbeing concerns.

How useful are parenting programmes?
Parenting can be learned but not taught according to Frank Furedi:
(The) project of transforming parenting into a skill does have negative and potentially harmful consequences. When human relationships are recast as skills to be managed by professional trainers something very important happens in the way we conduct our personal affairs. As I argue in my study Paranoid Parenting such policy interventions cultivate a kind of learned helplessness among parents. Through exaggerating the complexity of child-rearing, parenting experts contribute to the eroding self-reliance of modern mums and dads. Inevitably, the principal outcome of such interventions is to distract parents from learning from their own experience. And yet learning from experience is the key to developing the confidence for making those crucial judgment calls that confronts parents on a daily basis.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Global Citizenship Education

"UN peacekeeping missions have been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse in the past. In 2006, peacekeepers in Liberia and Haiti were accused of forcing girls to perform sexual favours in return for food. Two years later, researchers from Save the Children found UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti had raped children as young as 13. "

"The report was commissioned by the secretary general to monitor abuse in peacekeeping missions. It is an internal document, circulated within the UN, which was leaked to AIDS-Free World, an NGO advocating an urgent response to HIV and Aids."

"A UN official told the Guardian: "The report of the team of experts is an internal document that, from the team’s inception, was never intended for public release. As the secretary general has repeated, ‘a single substantiated case of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse involving United Nations personnel is one case too many’."

In response, Dr Rosa Freedman, senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham School of Law, accuses the UN of ignoring the report.

"It seems that they’ve been looking to put this report in a drawer and cover up what the experts said," she says. "On the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation, there are clear contradictions between what the experts set out in their research and what Ban Ki-moon would like to present as factual in his annual report to members."

Here`s how the United Nations likes to present itself:

It would be a good idea for children to learn more about the United Nations but that is unlikely to be provided in Curriculum for Excellence.

Ban ki-moon of South Korea, the incumbent Secretary-General, is generally regarded in UN circles as a bit of a buffoon, an impression reinforced by his irrepressibly corny sense of humour. (At his first meeting with the UN Press corps he sang "Ban ki-moon is coming to town" to the tune of the Santa Claus ditty.) According to John Bolton, the temporary American Ambassador at the UN when the Security Council picked Ban, his best quality was low wattage.

Read more

See also

McKenzie friend`s thoughts on the Hampstead child abuse case

"Concluding her 11-day ‘fact-finding’ hearing of the so-called Hampstead SRA case the judge has found the mother and her current partner ‘guilty’ of coaching the children to lie and has dismissed the whole story as a fabrication. But can one judge in a family court really be relied upon to have examined all the evidence? What forensics were ever carried out? Has this been a massive cover-up? And where does it leave victims and survivors of satanic ritual abuse in general? The debate will doubtless continue."

Report by Joint Committee on Human Rights

In a report published Tuesday 24 March 2015, the Joint Committee on Human Rights welcomes the progress made by the Government in recognising children’s rights in law and policy but says that more still needs to be done.
The Report also points to areas, such as immigration, legal aid and children in custody, where some policy developments have actually worked against the best interests of children, despite the Government’s specific commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) made in December 2010.
The Committee expresses its disappointment that, during the current period of austerity, children – particularly disadvantaged children – have in certain areas suffered disproportionately, and concludes that the Government’s statutory duty to eliminate child poverty by 2020 should be treated as a human rights issue.
The Committee concludes that "a UK-wide examination of the impacts of devolution on the protection and promotion of human rights is required after the Election in order to provide reassurance that there is a sufficiently consistent approach to children’s rights across the four countries of the UK, and that the different arrangements which very properly have been adopted in those countries do not reduce the level of protection for children but, where they have increased that protection, rather provide useful best practice for the rest of the UK to follow."

The four countries of the UK already share many practices in common such as joined up working (collaboration and data sharing), early interventions and swifter adoptions.

The Committee might be setting the scene for the possibility that a named person for every child will be seen as best practice.

The four countries are converging in their child protection practices around the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This allows state officials to determine what is in the `best interests` of the child which must be considered when decisions are made.

e.g Northern Ireland

"In 1991 the United Kingdom adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This was a further landmark in the development of child care services as it was to influence the forthcoming Children Order (NI) in 1995. The Convention established that children had specific rights in law and that these should be enshrined in legislation."

"The 1995 Order has been described as one of the most significant pieces of social legalisation of the 20th century....(The)1995 Order was to place children's needs and rights in law in an entirely new domain. The focus of the Order was about acknowledging children with individual needs. Some of
these may be universal, others will be specific. The need for children to be listened to and their statements and opinions accepted was now recognised. Greater emphasis was to be placed on collaboration across a wide range of agencies and a partnership with parents."

"There was to be a greater shift towards prevention and family support."

"This philosophy has also influenced the approach towards adoption. The principle of ‘freeing’ older children for adoption has been introduced...."

"One of the major challenges facing adoption services and
the courts today is how to identify children early and enable them to be placed quickly with an adoptive family without compromising the quality of professional considerations about the potential of the birth family to provide their own child with a loving, safe and permanently secure home, or the due process of the legal system."

Protests against water bills

'Ever notice that there are no "Fast Track Courts" to deal with crooked politicians, bankers, civil servants and property developers?

Well done FG+Labour, cos if ye go ahead with this then ye are in for a shock. This will be the final straw.'

Tens of thousands attend Dublin rally

"Stephen Fitzpatrick of the Communications Workers Union called for the ownership of water to be protected in the Constitution. He called for a referendum to add the following words to the Constitution: "The Government shall collectively be responsible for the protection, management and maintenance of the public water system."

"`The Government shall ensure in the public interest that this resource remains in public ownership and management. That’s all we want, we already own it, protect it,`  Mr Fitzpatrick added to applause. "

"General secretary of Mandate Trade Union John Douglas said there had been a `massive turnout again despite naysayers saying it would be a dismal turnout. It is a big demonstration despite all the so-called concessions the Government have given which was an attempt to buy the public. They obviously haven’t succeeded in buying the public.`"

"Will the Government change?  No...and they will ultimately pay the price in the ballot box."...

"Speaking from stage Mary Curtis, who described herself as `a mother and grandmother`, from Dundalk Says No, said water charges came on top of continuous cuts, which would no longer be tolerated."

"`We have a new ‘workhouse’ in this country,` she said. `It’s called ‘emergency housing’. They put our people into one room in hotels and they say, ‘We’ve given you a roof over your head’. But they have stolen the roof from over their head....The homeless are dying on the streets of this city...Austerity is directly linked to suicide.`"

"Memet Uludag of People Before profit and the Irish Anti-Racism Network, spoke in the context of UN World Anti-Racism day."

"`We say today water is a human right. Black and white, we will unite and we will fight. From Bolivia, to Detroit, to Greece, people have been fighting against cuts, against austerity`".

Monday, 23 March 2015

Ashya King makes good progress

"Five-year-old Ashya King's life has been saved by specialist proton beam therapy, not available for him on the NHS, his parents have said. Naghmeh and Brett King, who sparked an international manhunt last summer by removing their son from a UK hospital without medical consent for brain tumour treatment abroad, told The Sun newspaper Ashya was now cancer-free."

"However, the Czech clinic where Ashya was treated have said there is no guarantee he will not suffer a relapse.. `But we have treated more than 60 children here in Prague with brain tumours and all of the kids are doing very well.`"

'Mrs King described Ashya's recovery as `a miracle`. `If we had left Ashya with the NHS in Britain, he would not be with us today,` she told The Sun. `He was too weak and would not have survived.`"

"Ashya was finally allowed to undergo treatment at the Proton Therapy Centre (PTC) in Prague for brain cancer after a long legal battle fought by his parents."

"Mr King said his son's condition now justifies their actions in taking him from Southampton General Hospital last August, to Spain where they have a holiday home. He said: `We have saved his life`, adding that they would do the same thing again if they felt they had to."

"The Kings were arrested in Spain and spent several nights in prison away from their son, before being released."

"A High Court judge approved the move to take Ashya to Prague for proton therapy, which the PTC said is more effective than the radiotherapy Ashya was being offered on the NHS." [Yes, only after the parents broadcast their desperate situation to the world on Youtube. Had there been a court order in place, gagging them, their imprisonment might not have been temporary. Fortunately, they acted quickly enough to avoid that scenario. But there is no doubt Social Services were coming after them.]

The family, who have previously spoken of their apprehension over returning to the UK for fear social services would get involved, are staying in Marbella where Ashya will continue his recovery.

One comment:

"Shame on Social Services for acting in such a Bullish manner. Any parents would do the same thing if faced with this situation."


BBC at war over Panorama

Post by ExaroNews.

Update time 21.47:  The links were working earlier but that is no longer the case. Other search engines Duckduckgo etc are no longer directing traffic to Exaro.

All of that is interesting in itself.  

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Research calls on schools to improve personal traits

It may be called competences, character skills or social and emotional learning but it does not matter what it is called; it has nothing to do with an academic education; and it is being used to explain away the attainment gap between the better off and the poor.
Bright children who lack “grit” and “resilience” are more likely to end up with worse jobs and lower salaries than their classmates with good social and emotional skills, according to a new study. The research, which called for schools to put more focus on improving personal traits, also found that “character” boosted poorer children’s chances of breaking free of deprivation and going on to get a “top job”.
Children of professional parents are more likely to end up in higher-earning jobs and researchers calculated that 10 per cent of this advantage was due to better character skills. [Therefore ninety percent was not ! ]
It was extremely “worrying”, said the report, that poorer children showed worse behaviour, self-control and emotional health by the age of three than those from wealthier homes. It called for early intervention to boost children’s social skills before they start school....
They called for all those working with children to put more emphasis on character building and warned that schools risk putting too much emphasis on literacy and numeracy and fail to equip pupils with the life skills needed to be happy and healthy. Self-control was the most important skill children should be taught, followed by self-esteem and the belief that their actions make a difference. [If you want to dumb children down forget literacy and numeracy.]

What this approach on `soft skills` allows the government to do is to blame the poor for their predicament whilst encouraging more state intervention and control. It will also ensure that children grow up ready to blame themselves when life does not turn out as they hoped.

It cannot explain the current income gap which is widening.

View image on Twitter

Britain’s richest people are now better off than before the financial crisis, having seen their wealth grow 64 percent, according to a new report. Low income groups meanwhile have seen their share plummet, prompting warnings of "extreme inequality."

For that, blame the banks, bail-outs and austerity. 

Mark and Kerry McDougall: still fighting

Kerry McDonald
Photo John Gladwin Sunday Mirror
"Proud Kerry McDougall is looking forward to the birth of her third son – but fears she may have a tough battle to keep him. Kerry, 22, deemed by social workers to be "too dumb" to be a mum, has left her home and her two young sons 200 miles away in the hope of preventing her new baby being taken into care at birth."

"She and husband Mark say leaving Sean, five and William, three, with the foster family they had been handed to was "the hardest thing".

"But Kerry added: "They’d already been taken from us. The social workers think because I can’t spell long words I’m incapable of love or caring for children. "I can’t describe how it feels to know your children are somewhere else and are unhappy. I just have to trust one day we’ll get them back."

"The couple fear that if they return home when their son is born they will almost certainly lose him too..."

The judge's view

"Responsibility for the care of the children has been moved by Dunfermline Sheriff Court from Fife to Dundee City Council."

"The judge ruled this was, to remove any problems which may arise from social workers being biased against the family due to historical events."

The parents' view

"We’ve never done anything to put our children at risk of cruelty or neglect. We love them and have only ever wanted the best for them. That is to be with us."

"We have been made to make a decision no parent should have to make – to chose between our two sons and our unborn baby."

"We will fight until we are back together as a family."

NCA reveals 745 suspects arrested

"More than 260 suspected paedophiles have been charged since the start of a major operation targeting people who access child abuse images online – and police staff, teachers and civil servants are among them."

"The National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed that 745 suspects have been arrested under Operation Notarise, which was launched just over a year ago."

"Of these, 264 were charged, including 47 who were employed in positions of trust or voluntary roles with access to children."

"The NCA said that 518 children have been "safeguarded" as a result of the operation..."

"It was also revealed that there have been 328 arrests linked to Project Spade, a Canada-led investigation into the buying and selling of child pornography..."

"The previous approach saw images judged on the basis of their severity but that has been changed so that the starting point is to assess the risk the individual who accesses the picture poses to children."

Hampstead satanic cult: fact or fantasy ?

This is a very disturbing case and there are two versions.  Have the children been rescued or are they still in peril?  

(1) The children have been rescued by a secret court

"Two young children, now in care, were forced to take part in the “baseless” campaign and had their innocence stolen by their mother, Ella Draper, and her partner, Abraham Christie, top Family Division judge Mrs Justice Pauffley ruled. She was giving a fact finding judgment in care proceedings brought by the London Borough of Barnet involving two children, aged nine and eight, who were said to be at the centre of the cult’s abuse."

"The judge said that in September last year “lurid allegations of the most serious kind” were drawn to the attention of the Metropolitan Police suggesting the children were part of a large group of children abused by the satanic cult. The children’s father, Ricky Dearman, was said to be the leader of the cult and teachers at Christ Church Primary School in Hampstead and a priest at the adjacent church were said to be members. Both children – who can only be identified as P and Q – are now in care. The judge said the children had been forced to lie about their alleged abuse by the “cult” by their mother and Mr Christie. The children themselves had been repeatedly named on the internet with their pictures and film clips. But the judge said: “My sense was that the children, for the most part, were in the realms of fantasy.”

(2) The children have disappeared and are in the hands of their abusers


Friday, 20 March 2015

Social and emotional skills for the global economy

"The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was founded in 1948 to help the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II."

Here are its dire predictions for 2060:

Despite its predictions, the OECD report Skills for Social Progress: The Power of Social and Emotional Skills tells us that:
Today’s children will need a balanced set of cognitive, social and emotional skills in order to succeed in modern life...There are reliable measures of social and emotional skills that can be used across age groups at least within a cultural and linguistic boundary.

The psychological testing of children is on its agenda.  Should this organisation have such influence?

From an open letter to Dr Schleicher,
We assume that OECD's Pisa experts are motivated by a sincere desire to improve education. But we fail to understand how your organisation has become the global arbiter of the means and ends of education around the world. OECD's narrow focus on standardised testing risks turning learning into drudgery and killing the joy of learning. 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.

Mandatory reporting of child abuse

"Children’s social workers, teachers and local councillors will face up to five years in jail for failing to protect children from sexual exploitation, Prime Minister David Cameron has said."

"The new sanction will be introduced by extending a new criminal offence of “wilful neglect”, which was initially designed to address safeguarding failings by adult health and social workers, to apply to child sexual exploitation (CSE) cases as well."

"As part of a range of steps being taken to improve responses to CSE, Cameron also announced:"
- A national whistleblowing helpline so public sector workers can report bad practice relating to CSE. 
- A CSE taskforce of professional troubleshooting experts in social work, law enforcement and health that will support local services.
- A new system for “clawing back” exit pay-offs for senior staff who leave a post for failing to protect children, but are “quickly re-employed” in a similar role.
- Child sexual abuse will be prioritised as a “national threat”, meaning police forces will have a duty to collaborate across force boundaries.
- An additional £14m will be given to organisations supporting victims of sexual abuse (£7m in 2014/15 and £7m in 2015/16)...

"Brigid Featherstone, chair of the college’s children and families faculty, said: “While we recognise that a strong response is needed to the deplorable practice of child sexual exploitation, threatening to jail frontline social workers is not the answer."

“We have been similarly clear about this in relation to mandatory reporting [of child abuse], for which there is no sound evidence."

- See more at:

Guidance for professionals in Scotland is set out in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014.
"Scott Pattinson has called on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce legislation that makes it a criminal offence to fail to report child abuse."

The briefing explores some of the adverse consequences of mandatory reporting.
There is evidence to suggest that existing mandatory reporting regimes can lead to unintended adverse consequences, such as creating a culture of reporting rather than acting; dissuading children from disclosing incidents for fear of being forced into hostile legal proceedings; or overwhelming an already stretched child protection system so that attention is diverted from where it is most required.

Of course, the child protection system in Scotland is already stretched due to the focus on low level wellbeing concerns.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Esther Rantzen claims she did not know about Jimmy Savile

"Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen has denied that she was told about Jimmy Savile's child sex abuse in 1986 while giving evidence in a cyber stalking trial. Dame Esther today discussed allegations by child sex abuse victim and justice campaigner Shy Keenan that were printed on the front page of the Sun under the headline 'Abuse campaigner: I told Esther Rantzen about paedo Jimmy Saville 18 years ago.' "

"She said she 'would have remembered' if she had been told by Ms Keenan that Saville, Gary Glitter and Jonathan King were child abusers. If she had been told of such an 'explosive allegation' Dame Esther said she would have told her to go to the police. Dame Esther was giving evidence in the trial of Penny Mellor, 53, from Coven, Wolverhampton, who is alleged to have sent hundreds of abusive tweets to Ms Keenan."

"Ms Keenan, from Colchester, Essex, wrote a book in 2008 called Broken, where she told of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather."

Read more:

Dame Esther Rantzen has been known to alter her story.

Social and emotional learning: the problem of measurement

Character Scotland is an educational charity formed in 2009 by a group of academics, educationalists and local entrepreneurs. They are "dedicated to supporting the cultivation and recognition of character attributes in Scotland" and have recently posted about the OECD report Skills for Social Progress: The Power of Social and Emotional Skills.

Drawing on the OECD report for an answer, they ask how do children get these skills?
At a young, impressionable age children are likely to learn from two adult role model environments: their parents and at school. The report suggests a stronger relationship between educators and parents and children and increased learning of these skills through extra-curricular activities as well as in the curriculum.

The OECD reports that there is unanimous agreement on the need to develop a "whole child` with a balanced set of cognitive, social and emotional skills so that they can better face the challenges of the 21st century...

That sounds very much like the whole child approach in Scotland, GIRFEC and Curriculum for Excellence.

Having set the scene by insisting that social and emotional learning is necessary for successful outcomes the OECD`s emphasis turns to the problem of measurement. 
Yet, there are considerable differences across countries and local jurisdictions in the availability of policies and programmes designed to measure and enhance social and emotional skills such as perseverance, self-esteem and socialability. Teachers and parents may not know if their efforts at developing these skills are paying off, and what they could do better. These skills are seldom taken into account in school and university admission decisions. [!] 
One possible reason behind these gaps is the perception that social and emotional skills are hard to measure. While measuring these skills reliably is indeed challenging recent developments in psycho-social assessments point to a number of instruments that can be used to reliably measure relevant social and emotional skills within a culture or linguistic boundary, and they are already employed in selected local school districts....
There are reliable measures of social and emotional skills that can be used across age groups at least within a cultural and linguistic boundary. They include self-reported personality, behavioural characteristics and objective psychological assessments. Some of these measures have been demonstrated to predict numerous indicators of educational, labour market and social success. 

Scotland`s child protection system and school curriculum have been drastically altered to accommodate this. Everywhere you look organisations are pushing to obtain children`s data, all the better to monitor, control and predict their outcomes. [To be studied as human capital for the global workforce]

The PISA and Pearson`s connection
The OECD will continue contributing to this process by building on efforts made in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) as well as the new phase of the ESP project which will focus on assessing the distribution and development of social and emotional skills.

Pearson will be developing the PISA assessments. This is the company that has recently caused a scandal when they were caught spying on children in New Jersey.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Pearson spies on children

Bob Braun who wrote for the Star-Ledger for nearly 50 years and who served as its education editor for nearly 30 years writes a blog called Bob Braun`s Ledger.

He recently discovered that Pearson, the multinational testing and publishing company based in London, has been spying on the social media posts of students who are undergoing school PARCC assessments in New Jersey. He reveals that the state education department is cooperating with this spying because it has asked at least one school district to discipline students who may have said something inappropriate about the PARCC tests on social media.

The superintendent of one school district sent an email expressing her concern about the unauthorised spying on students. Thousands of parents have kept their children away from the PARCC tests because of anxiety that Pearson might abuse its access to student data. The superintendent believes that the revelations about the spying are going to make the situation worse.

It was asserted by an unnamed employee that a student took a picture of a test item and tweeted it. Bob Braun insists that this was not true. There was no picture and the tweet was done well after the testing was over. There was no evidence of any attempt to cheat.
The school superintendent also expressed concern about "the fact that the DOE wanted us to also issue discipline to the student." Clearly, if  Pearson insists on claiming test security as a justification for its spying on young people, that reasoning is vitiated by its cooperation with the state education department in trying to punish students who are merely expressing their First Amendment right to comment on the tests.

The Washington Post eventually got Pearson to comment on the matter:
"The security of a test is critical to ensure fairness for all students and teachers and to ensure that the results of any assessment are trustworthy and valid. We welcome debate and a variety of opinions. But when test questions or elements are posted publicly to the Internet, we are obligated to alert PARCC states. Any contact with students or decisions about student discipline are handled at the local level. We believe that a secure test maintains fairness for every student and the validity, integrity of the test results."

Bob Braun learned that at least one student was suspended. He says:  "That one or more students may have been suspended for treating PARCC like the bad joke it has become shows how sad–and maybe scary–this cooperation between government and the private testing industry has become."

In his latest blog post he informs us that:
The chief testing officer for the New Jersey education department is blaming others–particularly parents and educators–for the uproar about a private company’s monitoring of the social media accounts of children taking state, standardized tests known as PARCC...
For example, it sounds so reasonable that test security is nothing new, but, if so, why weren’t parents–or the public generally–informed that the state would be hiring cyber-spies to ensure no one was leaking information about the test? ...
The revelation about the cyber-monitoring went viral–no one disputes that–and so how does Erlichson explain that? Teachers and parents are just dumb about the internet? Come on–parents throughout the United States and the world were taken aback by the disclosures of what happened at the Watchung Hills Regional High School district last week. They were shocked...
Here’s another question–one your contractors won’t answer either: How does one of your cyber-vigilantes connect a Tweet to a specific student and to a specific school with such pinpoint accuracy that your office can call a testing coordinator at 10 pm and demand something be done?
As you must know, many Twitter accounts use pseudonyms. How do your spies get behind the fake handle to learn the identity of the person who sent the Tweet–or the Facebook posting? How do you learn the IP addresses of the tweets so the sender can be tracked down?

The Assembly Education Committee has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Thursday on the spying revelations. State Education Commissioner David Hespe and representatives from Pearson have been asked to testify, but it is not yet known who will show up. 

Here is something else the world needs to know

Pearson will be developing the Framework for PISA 2018. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is recognised as the benchmark for assessing education systems worldwide.

We have been assured by the Scottish Government that Scotland will be taking part.

See Transformational Education through Technology 

Glasgow`s a smart city

From Future City Glasgow:

Future City Glasgow is an ambitious £24million programme which will demonstrate how technology can make life in the city smarter, safer and more sustainable.

Glasgow beat 29 other cities to win funding for the programme in a contest run by the Technology Strategy Board - the UK Government's innovation agency.

The city is now embarking on a trail-blazing programme which will put residents at the forefront of technology integration and application. Analysis of data collected during the demonstrator will assist policymakers and inform future investment...

Future City Glasgow is a collaboration between public and private sector agencies providing a range of services to the city. They include Glasgow City Council, Police Scotland, housing providers, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, universities, energy providers and Scottish Enterprise.

From State of Surveillance:

Whilst Glasgow City Council claim they are not currently utilising NICE System’s facial recognition capabilities, the new HD CCTV system being installed for the Future Cities Demonstrator initiative, funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills via its quango the Technology Strategy Board, is still capable of tracking individuals within the city. A spokesperson from Glasgow City Council stated:

"A trial of NICE's video analytics is planned for later in the year [2015]. This involves Suspect Search which can be used to find missing children or vulnerable adults quickly, such as those with dementia, as well as tackling crime. Again it does not involve facial recognition or emotional intelligence.”

As well as missing children and vulnerable adults presumably Suspect Search can also track suspects - the clue is in the name. No facial recognition. No surreptitiously taking and covertly using our biometrics, that’s okay then? So how does this tracking work? The software still has the same outcome as using facial biometrics - individuals can be identified, traced and tracked. According to NICE;
Working with information about the entire body, from head to foot (clothes, accessories, skin, hair) enables faster and more accurate matches.

Read More