Thursday, November 06, 2008

Struggling British schools to be spared taking disruptive pupils

Why ANY schools have to take disruptive pupils is the mystery. They should be sent to special classes specifically designed to handle them. What is going to happen now is that good schools are going to be destroyed by having to take young thugs. But reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator is classic Leftism

Poorly performing schools are to receive extra funding and will be spared having to take disruptive pupils, Ed Balls said yesterday. Secondary moderns in particular will benefit from the announcement. The non-selective schools, in local authority areas where grammar schools remain, can apply for the money if they are deemed to be doing badly. It is meant to provide services and role models so that pupils who did not pass the 11-plus do not feel like failures.

The Schools Secretary said he had written to selective local authorities with the highest number of low-attaining secondary modern schools, including Plymouth, Kent, Wirral, Medway, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire. His letter acknowledged that some schools had "substantial difficulties" in raising and maintaining attainment because students lacked confidence.

Mr Balls has named more than 600 schools, where fewer than 30 per cent of pupils achieve five good GCSEs including maths and English, as being on his National Challenge register. The schools have been warned that they face closure or being turned into academies if results do not improve. He said some would benefit from 1 million pounds to support gifted and talented pupils. This will be spent over three years in up to 50 schools.

Secondary moderns on the register can apply for up to 1 million pounds of extra funding, compared with 750,000 in nonselective areas. In a further eye-catching initiative, the lowest-performing schools on the register - those with 20 per cent or fewer pupils achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths - will no longer have to take children with behaviour problems midway through the year. Currently all schools must take their share of excluded children.

Mr Balls said: "It's really important that all schools cooperate to tackle the issue of excluded pupils. That's why Sir Alan Steer [who conducted a review into pupil behaviour] recommended that all schools should be part of behaviour partnerships. However, we want to allow schools in the most challenging circumstances to focus fully on raising results."

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said most local authorities with schools on the register had appointed experts to hasten their improvement. Mr Balls said: "We want to support selected National Challenge [sink] schools to develop an expertise that will help them to attract parents and pupils as they grow stronger. "Non-selective pupils frequently have a perception of having `failed' the 11-plus [because they did], and it is especially important to provide excellent role models and to raise aspirations."


Barking mad: Owners of obese dogs and fat cats could face jail under controversial new British rules

Owners of fat cats and obese dogs could be fined or jailed under controversial Government rules. New beefed-up codes of practice for pet owners published today state that overfeeding pets is a 'serious welfare concern' that can lead to unnecessary suffering. People who refuse to put seriously fat pets on a diet could be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act - and face a fine of up to œ20,000 or even 12 months' jail.

Environment Minster Hilary Benn said the toughened codes of practice were designed to remind pet owners of their responsibilities under the law and would protect animals from cruelty. But Tories branded the guidance 'absurd' and warned that much of the advice was patronising.

The draft document, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, gives detailed advice to dog, cat and horse owners about looking after animals - and tells them how to avoid being prosecuted for cruelty. It also tells owners to provide 'entertainment' and 'mental stimulation' for pets, make sure upstairs windows are 'cat-proofed' to stop animals falling out and to avoid taking dogs for a walk in the hottest part of the day. In addition, it points out the importance of giving animals a suitable place to live and ' somewhere to go to the toilet'.

The codes follow last year's Animal Welfare Act which introduced a legal duty on owners to ensure that pets are properly looked after. The documents will be published as leaflets after an eight-week consultation period. Although breaking the code is not an offence, courts will use it to judge whether owners have been cruel. The document on cat welfare begins with a warning: 'It is your responsibility to read the complete Code of Practice to fully understand your cat's welfare needs and what the law requires you to do.' It warns that if they are taken to court, failure to follow the code could be used against them.

The code tells owners to ensure their cats are looked after when they go away and to brush them regularly. Long-haired cats should be groomed 'at least once a day'. The code also tells owners to have a cat litter tray available inside, even if their cat has 24-hour access to a garden. Dog owners are warned not to feed their pets chocolate or raisins for health reasons and to avoid giving them medicines designed for people.

Mr Benn said the new codes of practice ensure that 'no one will be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for mistreating any animal'. But the Tories' spokesman for animal welfare, Bill Wiggin, said: 'These new codes are absurd. Defra has missed the opportunity to produce a set of sensible proposals that would protect animals from abuse and mistreatment. 'Here we have this ridiculous guide which tells people not to walk their dog in the heat of the day or feed it at the table. Defra are taking people for fools.'


Britain raises age for marriage visa

Britain has raised the age at which foreigners can apply for a marriage visa to enter the country, to clamp down on forced weddings and immigration abuse, a minister said Tuesday. The age will rise from 18 to 21 at the end of November, said immigration minister Phil Woolas. From then both partners in a marriage will have to be at least 21. "It is important that we protect vulnerable young people and this measure will help avoid exploitation," he said, while the Home Office described the move as "the biggest shake-up to immigration and border security in 45 years."

Opposition Liberal Democrats welcomed the move, but their home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said other steps were needed. "The increase in age limits for marriage visas is a welcome defence against abuses such as forced marriage. But we must also give more help to legitimate spouses to learn English so they can play a full part in society," he said.


Dustbin Stasi

The marvelous writer whose work appears under his pen name Theodore Dalrymple has long argued that in statist regimes like that in the UK local authorities do little to prevent or punish real crime but use every law at their disposal to beset and harass the honest, law abiding citizens -- because it's much easier work. The end result is that the big issues of right and wrong get no attention as honest citizens are reduced to scurrying around complying with ever-increasing and ever more stupid petty regulations on their every action. Nothing illustrates his point better than this story:
More than half of town halls admit using anti-terror laws to spy on families suspected of putting their rubbish out on the wrong day. Their tactics include putting secret cameras in tin cans, on lamp posts and even in the homes of 'friendly' residents. The local authorities admitted that one of their main aims was to catch householders who put their bins out early. Many councils have been spying on residents and fining them if they put rubbish out on the wrong day

The shocking way in which the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act -- an anti-terror law -- is being used was revealed through freedom of information requests made by the Daily Mail.


Britain's most "incorrect" man off the hook

Jeremy Clarkson is a British motoring writer who also has a TV show. He is enormously popular for his "incorrect" but jocular comments and those who tune into his show know very well the sort of humorous exaggerations they are likely to hear. Note: "Lorry" is the British word for a truck.
"Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, is set to dismiss complaints about a joke by Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter of BBC's Top Gear, about lorry drivers killing prostitutes, The Times has learnt.

[Clarkson] said: "This is a hard job and I'm not just saying that to win favour with lorry drivers, it's a hard job. "Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day."

Notorious prostitute killers Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and Steve Wright, also known as the Suffolk Strangler, were both lorry drivers. This morning the BBC said it had received 517 complaints about the joke, with Ofcom also confirming that it had received calls about the show. But it is understood that the industry regulator, which is thought to have received only a handful of complaints, is likely to rule that the comments did not fall foul of the broadcasting code.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "The vast majority of Top Gear viewers have clear expectations of Jeremy Clarkson's long-established and frequently provocative on-screen persona. "This particular reference was used to comically exaggerate and make ridiculous an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving, and was not intended to cause offence."


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