Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Amazing: Mentally ill teachers asked back to school in Britain

Is there no end to socialist "caring"?

Teachers who have been declared unfit to work in the classroom are being approached in a "desperate" recruitment drive to fill vacancies in key subject areas, the National Union of Teachers said yesterday.

Letters from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), the main schools recruitment body, have been sent to teachers who have left the profession, including those who have retired on the ground of ill health. Describing teaching as "great fun"[In British schools? What a laugh!], the letters boast that teachers now earn more and work less hard.

One letter was sent last week to John Illingworth, a former primary school head who made news headlines two years ago when he broke down in tears at the NUT annual conference and said that he was leaving the profession because of mental illness brought on by workplace stress. Mr Illingworth, a former NUT president, said that he found the letter outrageous in its lack of sensitivity towards mentally ill colleagues and in its misleading claims over teacher pay and workload. "I was forced to leave teaching two years ago because of mental illness," he told the union's annual conference in Manchester yesterday, adding that he had been declared "unfit to teach".

"I take that letter as a joke. But there are some very ill people out there who have left teaching and are still very ill. "This letter could be extremely damaging to their health. It is outrageous that a government agency is sending out such letters to ill teachers." He questioned why the agency had not found out which teachers had left the profession owing to mental health problems, adding that he would not be surprised if the letters had been sent to teachers who had died.

Mr Illingworth, originally a maths teacher, suggested that the agency could be writing to retired teachers of shortage subjects. Although there is no overall teacher recruitment crisis, there are shortages of maths, science and modern language teachers. He read delegates extracts of the letter that he had received from Graham Holley, chief executive of the agency, claiming that a lot had changed over the past two years. "Salaries are much better. Teachers are on average earning 10,000 a year more now than they did 10 years ago. "The number of teachers working part-time has increased and the workload has improved, with teachers saying they spend significantly less time working at home," the letter said.

But Mr Illingworth contested these claims. "This isn't a half-truth. It isn't even a quarter-truth: it's damned lies," he said to applause. Starting salaries for graduate teachers had increased by about 6,000 since 1997, and, in real terms, teacher salaries were less than two years ago, he said. The latest survey on primary teacher workload, published last week by Cambridge University, showed an increase in average weekly working hours by two hours to 56 hours.

"We shouldn't be trying to encourage people into teaching on the basis of lies because, if we do, half of them will leave in the first three years of teaching. I know there's a crisis among teachers. That's why desperate measures like this are being taken. But the answer to that is to reduce teacher workload, improve our pay and keep us all in the job," he said.

A number of delegates approached him after his speech to say that they knew of similar letters being sent to NUT members, including those with mental ill health. It appeared that the Teachers Pensions Agency had passed to the TDA the names and addresses of teachers who had left the profession - something that the NUT said it would investigate. About 12,000 teachers return to the profession every year, joining a workforce of approximately 440,000 in England. But between a third and a half of teachers leave within five years of starting work.

A TDA spokesman said that it was actively encouraging qualified teachers to return to the profession. "Pay progression opportunities and flexible working arrangements have significantly improved over the last five years," he said. "Teachers are now also supported by an increased wider workforce, which frees up their time to do what they do best, which is to teach."


Girls' computer game condemned

Shoot-em-up games are OK but encouraging weight loss is bad??

"A website that encourages girls as young as 9 to embrace plastic surgery and extreme dieting in the search for the perfect figure was condemned as lethal by parents' groups and healthcare experts yesterday. The Miss Bimbo internet game has attracted prepubescent girls who are told to buy their virtual characters breast enlargement surgery and to keep them "waif thin" with diet pills.

Healthcare professionals, a parents' group and an organisation representing people suffering anorexia and bulimia criticised the website for sending a dangerous message to impressionable children.

In the month since it opened the site, which is aimed at girls aged from 9 to 16, has attracted 200,000 members. Players keep a constant watch on the weight, wardrobe, wealth and happiness of their character to create "the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the world". Competing against other children they earn "bimbo dollars" to buy plastic surgery, diet pills, facelifts, lingerie and fashionable nightclub outfits. The website sparked controversy when it was introduced in France, where it attracted 1.2 million players.


And all the government propaganda attacking "obesity" is OK? Somebody is deeply confused here.

Anorexia is mainly an hereditary mental illness anyway, nothing to do with looking at slim actresses etc. It's a type of OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder).

MRSA and C difficile superbug deaths at 10,000 a year in Britain

Dirty NHS hospitals at fault

The number of patients in British hospitals dying from superbug infections has reached more than 10,000 every year, according to an expert. The new figure is about 20% higher than the official toll of 8,000 a year. Mark Enright, professor of molecular epidemiology at Imperial College London, said that the real number of those succumbing to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C difficile) in the UK is higher than the government's records show. "I think it is at least 10,000 a year," he said. "A lot of people are never tested for these infections and their deaths are put down to something else."

"Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now so well established here, we will never get rid of them," said Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University and a world expert.

Latest European figures show that Britain's hospitals are still teeming with treatment-resistant bacteria. While strict hygiene measures have ensured low infection rates in other countries, microbiologists here are privately admitting that Britain's problem is so out of control, it will be impossible to prevent the high level of deaths from continuing. The government's pledge to reduce rates of MRSA to half the 2004 level is unattainable, they say.

According to figures from Eurosurveillance, at least 42% of MRSA bacteria in British hospitals are "superstrains", compared with rates of 20% or lower elsewhere. In the 31-nation European antisuperbug league table, Britain lies close to the bottom, with an infection-control performance better than those of only Malta, Greece, Portugal and Romania.


Cod liver oil lubricates your bones! "A regular dose of cod liver oil reduces the quantity of painkilling drugs needed by people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a study in Scotland has found. The finding, published in Rheumatology magazine, is significant because cod liver oil is benign, whereas nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which are commonly taken by RA patients, can have serious side-effects. The study was carried out over five years by researchers from rheumatology units in Dundee and Edinburgh.

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