Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sometimes the real thoughts behind the correctness leak out

Contrast the impeccably correct first statement below with the one that follows it. The first statement is the first paragraph on the home page of Barnardo's -- a British children's charity
"Some might say that children who are troublesome or engage in anti-social behaviour can be difficult to believe in. Barnardo's argues that it is these children who need our support. Most children in trouble are trapped in a cycle of disadvantage. Children who start down a path of bad behaviour can be helped to change direction"

And the second paragraph below refers to the horribly tortured and killed British toddler known as "Baby P", pictured below before his maltreatment by his negligent mother's boyfriends:

"It saddens me that the probability is that, had Baby P survived, given his own deprivation, he might have been unruly by the time he had reached the age of 13 or 14. At which point he'd have become feral, a parasite, a yob, helping to infest our streets"

So who said that? The head of British Nazi Party? No. It was Martin Narey, the chief executive of Barnardo's

More British state teachers quitting jobs for better working life in independant schools

State school teachers are fleeing to the independent sector in record numbers to escape big classes and Government targets, it emerged yesterday. Staff who moved over from state primaries and secondaries now make up one in four teachers in private schools following a surge in recruitment over the past decade. Private schools employ more than 14 per cent of all teachers despite educating just eight per cent of pupils, according to research presented to an education conference yesterday. The National Union of Teachers accused the Government of driving teachers out of state schools by failing to clamp down on large classes and persisting with a testing and target-setting regime.

Academics who conducted the study said the 'poaching' of experienced teachers by independent schools had 'negative' effects on the state system. Figures from the universities of Kent and London School of Economics showed that the number of teachers transferring from state to fee-paying schools outstripped the numbers moving in the opposite direction by 1,500 last year. In 1994, the figure was just 400. In total, some 2,000 teachers transferred to independent schools last year - up from 600 in 1994. Out of 45,000 to 50,000 private school teachers, 12,000 - around a quarter - previously worked in the state sector.

The sharp upturn in little more than a decade is partly down to the expansion of the independent sector over the past 10 years due to rising pupil numbers. But they have also invested heavily in staffing, enabling them to reduce class sizes while raising recruitment of pupils.

Research co-authored by Francis Green, professor of economics at Kent University, found that independent schools tend to employ better-qualified teachers. They are also able to attract a significantly greater share of teachers in shortage subjects such as the sciences than the state system. 'There is no doubt that the rising resources flowing to independent schools have raised the quality of the education input in these schools,' the study concluded.

John Bangs, the NUT's head of education, criticised levels of 'poaching' by the independent sector. He said the Government must learn a 'massive lesson'. Mr Bangs said: 'Many teachers go into the independent sector because they feel the professional freedom and smaller class sizes are something they want, and they want to escape from the heavy duty accountability culture in the state sector. 'There's a massive lesson for the Government. 'The Government needs to ask itself what is driving some of our most talented teachers into independent schools.'

Presenting the figures at the Westminster Education Forum yesterday, Professor Green urged independent schools that 'attract an experienced teacher away from the maintained sector' to ensure that top staff are shared with local state schools.

However David Lyscom, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council said fee-paying schools were willing to forge links with state schools and share teaching expertise but warned that it 'takes two to tango', implying some comprehensive heads are reluctant to work with their fee-paying counterparts.

Mr Lyscom also sounded a warning that new laws requiring fee-paying schools to pass a public benefit test in order to retain their charitable status could lead to perverse consequences. It raised the prospect of a boys' school failing the test if charitable activities involved girls from neighbouring state schools. 'What I am worried about is a narrow legislative approach to decide what can count and can't count by looking at the articles of individual charities and trying to interpret what they do within the legal terms of their status. 'For example, I worry that if a boys' school does an activity with a girls' school, it won't be counted because it is not part of the purpose of their charity.'

Mr Lyscom said it will be unfortunate when 'hard-pressed heads have to look at what they are doing and if it's not regarded as being positive have to look for other opportunities'.


The rights of criminals still coming first in Britain

As thief gets away with caution, boss who marched him to police lands false imprisonment charge

A boss who marched a thieving worker to a police station with a placard round his neck has been charged with false imprisonment. Yet the criminal himself has escaped with just a slap on the wrist.

Simon Cremer took action against Mark Gilbert after learning he had cashed a forged company cheque. He hung a sign reading `Thief' on Gilbert and paraded him past shoppers on a busy high street before handing him to police. Now, however, officers have decided the thief should receive nothing more than a caution, while throwing the book at 44-year-old Mr Cremer, who thought he was making a citizen's arrest.

Mr Cremer and three workers from his carpet fitting firm who helped him overpower the sub-contractor have all been charged with false imprisonment - an offence that carries a maximum life term. Even Gilbert has expressed surprise that the men had been arrested, admitting: `I'm the criminal here.'

The charges came on the day Whitehall statistics showed tens of thousands of serious criminals are receiving only a caution - including rapists and paedophiles. But the number of criminals being sent to jail is at its lowest level for a decade.

Mr Cremer, a father of two, said yesterday: `I can't believe the police system. This is a guy who is a proven thief, he stole a cheque, forged a signature and took money by deception, surely there's enough to charge him. But no, he's been let off with a caution.' Mr Cremer, who has no criminal record, added: `I would do exactly the same thing again, especially now he has got off with a caution. I don't regret my action, the fact I tied his hands is the only bit I regret.'

His partner Karen Boardman, 44, who has just returned to work as a receptionist at a GP's surgery after treatment for breast cancer, attacked the `topsy-turvy justice' that could see Mr Cremer and his three employees spend time behind bars. She said: `I am disgusted. I have no faith left in the British justice system. "'The person that committed the crime has walked away, completely free. He will be sitting at home over Christmas, without a care, while Simon and the other three, who are all family men, have this hanging over them. `Their judgment was maybe clouded slightly because times are tough but I will not condemn what they've done. Even giving them a caution would be wrong.'

Mr Cremer, of Little Maplestead, Essex, was alerted to the theft in September when the Cash Converters company phoned him about a bounced cheque from his firm, In House Flooring. It emerged that Gilbert, from Colchester, who earned up to 1,000 pounds a week, had taken a cheque from an old book, written it out for 845 pounds, and cashed it for holiday spending money. He claims he was owed wages but his boss had been too busy to write out a cheque - a claim Mr Cremer vehemently denies.

When Gilbert next went in to work in Witham, Essex, he was wrestled to the floor, tied up and bundled into a van before being paraded 350 yards through the streets. In a scene reminiscent of the medieval approach to justice, when suspects were named and shamed by being sent to the village stocks, a cardboard sign was slung around his neck which read: `THIEF. I stole 845 pounds. Am on my way to police station.'

Gilbert claims he was punched, threatened with tools and feared for his life. But Mr Cremer insists no violence was used, although he `restrained' his employee for his own protection. Gilbert said of his former boss and colleagues: `I feel for them and I don't want anything bad to happen to them. But it wasn't really correct what they did to me.'


Obsessive immigration secrecy in Britain

What are they trying to hide? One guess: An out of control system

Police arrested the opposition Conservative Party's immigration spokesman on Thursday over alleged leaks of information which he made public, British media said. The reports said Damian Green, who is a member of parliament, was arrested by London police at his home in Kent, south east of the capital, and his offices were searched. The information leaked was said to have come from the Home Office (Interior Ministry).

The Conservatives were unavailable for comment on the allegations when contacted by Reuters, but the arrest was condemned by the party's shadow Chancellor George Osborne. "I think it is absolutely extraordinary that the police have taken that decision. It has long been the case in our democracy that members of parliament have received information from civil servants," he said on BBC television "I think to hide information from the public is wrong. It is very early days. It's an extraordinary case and I think there are going to be some very, very big questions asked of the police."

Police issued a statement which said that a 52-year-old man had been arrested in Kent and taken to a central London police station on Thursday afternoon. "The man has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office," they said in a statement. They added that they had searched two residential addresses and business premises in Kent and central London.


Britain: Negligent Muslim doctor sanctioned

Paediatrician who failed to detect Baby P's broken bones is suspended. Thank goodness someone is sanctioned over the matter

The doctor who failed to detect Baby P's injuries and concluded that he was just "cranky" two days before he died has been suspended from practising medicine. Yesterday the General Medical Council said that Dr Sabah al-Zayyat, a locum paediatrician who examined Baby P at St Ann's Hospital in London, had been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into her conduct. Baby P died in Haringey, North London, after suffering months of appalling abuse in his family home.

The GMC had already placed temporary conditions on the registration of Dr al-Zayyat at a hearing in August 2008, which meant she could work only under supervision. But those conditions have now been upgraded to a full suspension. The GMC said it would hold a full public hearing if its investigation merited it. If it proceeds to that stage it can then either strike Dr al-Zayyat off the medical register, suspend her, put conditions on her registration or simply not impose any penalty.

Dr al-Zayyat, who qualified in Pakistan and worked in Saudi Arabia before coming to Britain in 2004, saw bruises to Baby P's body but decided not to carry out a full systemic examination because the boy was "miserable and cranky". A post-mortem examination revealed a broken back and ribs, and a host of previous injuries. "Our priority is to protect the public interest, including patient safety," the GMC said in a statement. "When an interim order has been imposed, we keep the details under close review. The Interim Orders Panel decided on Friday, 21 November to suspend Dr al-Zayyat's registration. Our investigations are continuing and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Two social workers involved in the case are being investigated by the General Social Care Council. Maria Ward, Baby P's social worker, and Gillie Christou, her manager, face an investigation, which could result in both of them being struck off. The GSCC is "conducting preliminary inquiries into the actions of social workers in the case". Haringey Council is being investigated by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Ofsted and the Healthcare Commission, with their preliminary report due to be handed to ministers on Monday. Thousands of letters from the public calling for the resignation of the social workers involved in Baby P's case were taken to Downing Street yesterday, in advance of the report.

There was also anger among MPs and charities after Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo's, said that had he lived to become a teenager, Baby P might have turned into a "feral, parasitic yob". Mr Narey used the case to focus attention on the need to tackle causes of abuse. But charities and MPs said they were astounded by his "provocative" comments. Michele Elliott, chief executive of the children's charity Kidscape, told The Times: "Barnardo's seem to feel that by making these kind of comments that the public is going to support them. I find these comments extremely offensive in view of the fact that the child is dead."

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat children's spokesman, said the terms used by Mr Narey were unwise. "It would be better not to use such provocative language about this particular baby who has died," he said. "[He is trying to] throw some light on the circumstances in which thousands of young people in Britain grow up today, and the need to break these cycles of deprivation."

Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, a charity for young people in inner cities, said it was wrong to presume that all abused children went on to be abusive adults.


British bureaucrats trying to "get" NHS whistleblower

A nurse who exposed appalling neglect of the elderly at an NHS hospital began a fight to save her career today. Margaret Haywood, 58, faces a series of disciplinary charges over a secret film she made for a BBC Panorama programme. If a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel finds against her, she could be struck off the nursing register.

The veteran nurse was hired to help investigate concerns about the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. She and reporter Shabnam Grewal gathered evidence of failures to give even basic care to frightened and dying elderly patients. One was left to die alone while others spent hours in their own filth or with nothing to drink. Some were in agony from a lack of pain relief. After one shift Haywood said: 'I can honestly say it is the worst ward I have ever, ever worked on.'

The documentary ' Undercover Nurse', shown on BBC 1 in July 2005, sparked an investigation by Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which issued a public apology admitting 'serious lapses in the quality of care'.

The Central London hearing was told that Haywood admitted breaching confidentiality by passing contact details for patients and their families to programme makers. She told interviewers: 'That is a chance I am willing to take for things to improve. Hopefully I will not lose my registration. If I do, it is a small price to pay for things to get better.'

Haywood, from Liverpool, denies that her fitness to practice is impaired by reason of misconduct. She also denies an allegation that she raised concerns about patient care in the documentary instead of following 'whistleblowing' policy and reporting the issues to the Trust. Haywood further denies failing to assist colleagues when a patient was having a seizure.

Rachel Birks, for the NMC, said Haywood worked 28 shifts between November 2004 and April 2005 while secretly filming for Panorama. She said: 'She had not sought consent from the patients involved when she filmed them and the NMC's case is that from patient charts and records she would have been able to provide documentary makers with the contact details for patients and their families.'

The Royal Sussex County Hospital, which then had the lowest rating of zero stars and an œ8million deficit, had received a number of complaints before filming started. The panel heard a senior nurse deny that pensioners were victims of neglect. But Philip Kemp, a lead nurse in professional standards, admitted care was 'substandard' and that management knew patients were going without food or drink.


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