Thursday, April 17, 2008

Desperate British parents to give up their daughter for adoption so she can go to a better school

More testimony to the appalling state of many British government schools

A desperate couple are willing to give their daughter up if it means that she can go her first choice of secondary school. James and Stella Coils say they'll let their 10-year-old daughter Rebecca live with a relative if it means she can go to her favoured school. The Coils are considering transferring guardianship of their child to their daughter's great-aunt, Mary Holland, after being denied a place at Manor College of Technology in Hartlepool.

Holland, lives only half a mile from the Owton Manor Lane school - directly in its catchment area. She is happy to go along with plans and be Rebecca's carer, saying that she feels Hartlepool Borough Council has let her family down. The family has been left distraught after the council allocated Rebecca, a year-six Eldon Grove Primary School pupil, a place at St Hild's C of E Secondary School in Hartlepool. The school is more than five miles away from their home in Seaton Carew.

The couple filled in the selection form around two months ago listing in order of preference the town's six secondary schools. But they were stunned when not only did they miss out on their first choice but were offered a place in their fourth choice school. Mr Coil, 34, said: "We only picked St Hild's because we had to pick schools on the form, we never wanted her to go there. "The school is on the other side of town and it is five miles away. She would have to get two buses to get there."

The parents have appealed against the decision but Holland, who works for Orange, said that if she is not allocated another place he would take the drastic action. He said: "We have considered putting her in the guardianship of Stella's aunty who lives in the catchment area for Manor, or we would home-school her. "That would be worst case scenario but we would do it. Her education will shape her into the person she becomes and we are not happy with the choice of school that we have been given."

Mrs Holland, 54, who lives with her husband Brian, 49, said: "It's a big ask but her education is very important so I would do it. "I'm gobsmacked, It would be a shame that four or five days out of the week her parents would miss out on her upbringing."

A council spokesman said: "Under the allocations process, parents are asked to list a minimum of three schools in order of preference and we do our very best to meet one of those preferences based on the number of places available. "However, if there are more applications for a school than there are places as there are this year in the case of Manor, English Martyrs and High Tunstall, we make allocations for community schools and foundation schools in accordance with the published admissions arrangement. "As with every application we have tried to do our best for Mr and Mrs Coils within the terms of the published admissions arrangements, and we have also advised them of their right to appeal."


Antioxidant pills 'increase risk of early death'

More bad news for pill poppers and health freaks generally. The claim that antioxidants in food are somehow different is just deep faith. Note that in the madhouse that is the medical literature, a Cochrane study is unusually authoritative

Researchers at Copenhagen University carried out a review of 67 studies on 230,000 healthy people and found "no convincing evidence" that any of the antioxidants helped to prolong life expectancy. But some "increased mortality".

About 12 million Britons supplement their diets with vitamins and the industry is worth 330 million pounds. But little research has been done on the long-term health implications.

The Department of Health said yesterday that people should try to get the vitamins they need by eating a balanced diet and advised care in taking large doses of supplements. A spokesman said: "There is a need to exercise caution in the use of high doses of purified supplements of vitamins, including antioxidant vitamins, and minerals. Their impact on long-term health may not have been fully established and they cannot be assumed to be without risk. "Anyone concerned about their diet should speak to their doctor or dietitian."

Antioxidants, including vitamins A, E, C and beta-carotene and selenium, are said to mop up compounds, called free radicals, which cause disease. It is this action that researchers believe may cause problems with the defence system. The Danish research, released by the influential Cochrane Library, applied only to synthetic supplements and not to vitamins that occur naturally in vegetables and fruit.

It found that vitamin A supplements increased the risk of death in healthy people by 16 per cent. Taking beta-carotene was linked to a 7 per cent increased risk, while regular users of vitamin E supplements increased the risk of an early death by four per cent.

Although the review found no significant detrimental effect caused by vitamin C, it found no evidence that it helped ward off disease. Millions take it in the hope of avoiding a common cold.

Goran Bjelakovic, who led the review, said: "We could find no evidence to support taking antioxidant supplements to reduce the risk of dying earlier in healthy people or patients with various diseases. "If anything, people in trial groups given the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E showed increased rates of mortality."

But Patrick Holford, a nutritionist who has formulated supplements for the company Biocare, said: "Antioxidants are not meant to be magic bullets and should not be expected to undo a lifetime of unhealthy habits. "When used properly, in combination with a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking, antioxidant supplements can play an important role in maintaining and promoting overall health."

A spokesman for the Health Supplements Information Service said: "People should get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their diet, but for the millions who are not able to do that, vitamins can be a useful supplement and they should not stop taking them."

However, Catherine Collins, of the British Dietetic Association, said: "This study is deeply worrying and shows that there should be more regulation for vitamins and minerals. "The public can buy vitamins as easily as sweets. They should be treated in the same way as paracetamol with maximum limits on the dosage."


No comments: