Saturday, December 27, 2008

Standards for teachers: How amazing

Any standards at all have to be welcomed these days. Similar standards for students are too much to expect, of course. Do I sense a double standard there? Do teachers recognize what is needed to gain respect but not convey that to those they teach? "Everything is relative" certainly seems to be often taught. Traditional Leftist double standards, it would seem. Story from Britain below

Teachers must behave as pillars of the community and be role models to their pupils, the industry’s professional body said yesterday. Those who drink heavily and disgrace themselves - even outside school hours – face disciplinary action for bringing the profession into disrepute, whether or not they have broken the law. Some teachers have had to undergo counselling or provide medical proof of abstinence from alcohol to remain on the teaching register, the General Teaching Council admitted.

Yesterday the teaching council presented a draft of its new code of conduct for teachers, on which it is consulting. The wellbeing of children is the main thrust of the code, with an even higher billing than learning. Teachers could be disciplined if they fail to cooperate with social workers or do everything in their power to protect children, the draft code says. They should pick up on and address problems at the earliest possible stage. They must also report colleagues if they have concerns that their practice puts children at risk.

The draft code says that teachers have to demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity, and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession. This includes teachers “maintaining standards of behaviour both inside and outside school that are appropriate given their membership of an important and responsible profession”.

Keith Bartley, the chief executive of the General Teaching Council, admitted that expectations of teachers had increased significantly in the past few years. He said: “The new code will have to reflect the fact that teachers are working more closely with other professionals. Some of the cases that have had national prominence recently show that, if a teacher has concerns, they have a duty to raise and pass on those concerns.”

Whereas the previous code, drawn up in 2004, set out what teachers should not do, the 2008 draft describes in unambiguous terms how teachers are expected to behave. Sarah Stephens, director of policy at the teaching council, said: “It gives greater clarity about what it means to act as a role model, and about a teacher’s conduct outside the classroom.” Mr Bartley added that, at some of the organisation’s professional misconduct hearings, teachers had been required to agree to undergo therapy. He added that teachers could be found guilty of unacceptable conduct without breaking the law – for example by belonging to a party that held racist views. “We’re saying to teachers that, as individuals, they have to consider their place in society,” he said. “There’s a sense that this [code] has to reflect society’s expectations of the people to whom we commit our children.”

David James, the teaching council’s head of professional regulation, said: “We have the ability to apply conditions to a teacher’s registration. We can say to people, ‘You can remain a teacher but you must undertake retraining, or counselling, or provide evidence of abstinence from drinking’. That happens quite frequently.”

The draft code requires teachers to forge links with parents, and consider their views. It also says they must keep up to date with technology and social changes. The organisation is investigating what schools and local authorities are doing to tackle the problem of incompetent teachers. It will report the findings of its research next year.


NHS hospital apologises after baby was born on floor

A pregnant woman was left unattended for hours and had to give birth on a hospital floor despite her desperate appeals for a bed. Health board officials have apologised to Lynne Neilson, 36, whose baby started to arrive as she stood, still clothed, in a cold assessment room after hours of waiting to be admitted to the labour ward. As the head appeared, a midwife ran in just in time to put a paper mat on the floor and catch the baby, who had the umbilical cord around her neck.

Mrs Neilson and her husband, Gavin, made an official complaint to the hospital and to Nicola Sturgeon, the Health Minister, after the incident at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. NHS Lothian announced on Christmas Eve that it had begun an investigation and had apologised.

The couple had arrived at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion early on December 5, but went home when the labour slowed. They returned at 7pm and were told to sit in the waiting room. Contractions quickened and Mr Neilson asked repeatedly for help until his wife, in pain and barely able to walk, was finally moved to an assessment room and examined by a midwife. Mrs Neilson said: “She said she’d come back in 20 minutes and that’s when it all really went wrong, because she didn’t come back. She was seeing other patients.”

Two and a half hours after they had arrived, their baby, Orla, was born. Mrs Neilson said: “The room we were in was cold. There was a narrow trolley – not a bed – which I couldn’t get up on to. I was shouting out – it was so undignified, because everybody in the waiting room would have been able to hear us. I felt a huge pressure and at that point I knew that the baby was going to be born.” A midwife arrived just in time to find Orla’s head emerging. Mrs Neilson said: “She took control and put down a disposable mat on the floor. She caught the baby – I was standing up and she was born on to the floor. I was very relieved that the midwife had come, because we were panicking.”

After the birth, Mrs Neilson was helped on to the trolley, but the family waited another hour before being transferred upstairs to a labour ward. They said they were told that the room they were placed in had been vacant throughout Mrs Neilson’s labour.

The couple have three older children, who were born in Glasgow, Hong Kong and at Edinburgh Royal, but said that this was the worst experience they have had in a maternity unit. David Farquharson, clinical director of women’s services in NHS Lothian, said: “This is not the experience we would want any mother or family to have.”


Genetic screening ends fears of breast cancer for British couple

A baby genetically screened to be breast cancer free is due to be born within days. In what is believed to be the first publicised case in the world, a British couple underwent pre-implantation genetic testing to free their children from the disease. At the same time, IVF Australia has announced it will start the genetic testing for the aggressive breast cancer gene BRACA 1 next year.

Testing for the breast cancer gene has been available in Australia for about five years. Very few IVF clinics offer it due to the ethical dilemma involved. Pre-implantation genetic testing is used to screen for hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis. But screening for breast cancer is considered controversial by pro-life groups because there is a chance not all embryos will develop the gene mutation and could have led a healthy life.

The British couple, who do not wish to be identified, are one of two in the UK who have publicly decided to undergo the test after their families had been afflicted with breast cancer. Without screening, any daughter of the couples would have an 80 per cent chance of developing the fast-spreading form of breast cancer. "I thought this was something I had to try because if we had a daughter with this gene, and she was ill, I couldn't look her in the face and say I didn't try," the 27-year-old expectant mum said.

Men can be carriers of the rogue gene. Had the couple conceived naturally, any child would have a 50 per cent chance of also carrying the gene. "We had been through his sister being ill, so it was something we had seen first hand," the woman said.

Another couple, known as Matthew and Helen, have also undergone the screening to try to eradicate the hereditary breast cancer gene. "I've lived much of my life with cancer and death, and fear that I might have to face it and might pass on the risk to my children," Helen said. "This gives us the chance to make sure our daughters won't have the same experience."

Genetic testing involves using IVF to create a selection of embyros. Scientists then select the ones without the rogue gene and implant them in the woman. Several clinics, including Sydney IVF, offer screening for BRACA 1 and 2 genes. "What is significant about this case is that normally genetic testing is done for things that affect the baby, not adult diseases," said Peter Illingworth, IVF Australia's medical director.

Breast cancer survivor Ayda Soydash, 29, may never be able to have children after her treatment, using Herceptin, brought on early menopause. But yesterday Miss Soydash said she supported genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer. "Definitely, definitely it is something I would do," she said.


That three-letter word offensive?

We read:
"An advertising billboard that screams 'Want Longer Lasting Sex?' has prompted a barrage of complaints. Almost 200 hoardings in bold red on yellow print have appeared in and around London. One, with the word 'sex' in lettering twice as high as the rest of the advert, is within a few hundred metres of a large supermarket. The adverts will soon be rolled out across the UK.

Last night the Advertising Standards Authority said it had launched a formal investigation into the campaign, which has provoked 249 complaints in eight days. A large number of parents are said to be among those who have taken offence to the 196 billboards from the company - which treats erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

Despite the watchdog investigation, AMI, which has only recently opened a clinic in London, has not been ordered to take the billboards down. The result of the probe will not be known until the New Year. On its website, the company boasts of having treated 'well over 300,000 men'.


The word is not normally censored and it is extremely widely used elsewhere. So is this a sign of a new forbidden word?

Hate-filled Leftist dies: "Nobel Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter, one of theatre's biggest names for nearly half a century, has died aged 78, his wife Lady Antonia Fraser and agent said Thursday. Pinter , who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, had been suffering from cancer. Fraser told the Guardian newspaper: "He was a great, and it was a privilege to live with him for over 33 years. He will never be forgotten." Pinter's plays included "The Birthday Party", "The Dumb Waiter" and "The Homecoming". His first play, "The Room," appeared in 1957 and his breakthrough came with "The Caretaker" in 1960. They often featured the slang language of his native east London as well as his trademark menacing pauses. The adjective "Pinteresque", referring to such characteristics, is included in the Oxford English Dictionary.... In Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech, he launched a lengthy and strong attack on US foreign policy, particularly over the Iraq war. "The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," he said. [He must have been stone deaf!!] "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis." [More political background here]

Ford CAN still make good cars -- in England (No UAW there): "Take a bow, the Ford Fiesta – our Car Of The Year. I presented the gong to Ford’s UK boss Roelant De Waard and in an outstanding year for new models it was always going to be an extra-special car that won Sun Motors’ Top Award – and that’s what the new Fiesta is. The Fiesta has become part of the British motoring scene but this version takes small cars to a new level of sophistication. It’s the car that proves great things can come in small packages. Its sensational looks are backed up by an even more dramatic interior, with quality levels and equipment you’d expect on cars a class above. And, best of all, the Fiesta delivers a first-class driving experience, making the Ford a great all-round package. The public clearly agree because more than 11,500 have been sold since the car hit showrooms in October, despite the launch coinciding with the biggest sales slump in 15 years."

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