Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quality teachers in British government schools

Teacher who used crack cocaine and fell asleep during lessons allowed to keep his job

A teacher who admitted using crack cocaine and falling asleep during lessons has been allowed to keep his job at the Government's newest academy school. William Horseman, who now teaches at the Merchants Academy in Withywood, Bristol, was a user of crack cocaine during 2005 and 2006 when he was working at Ridings High School, in nearby Winterbourne. He admitted one count of unacceptable professional conduct at a hearing of the General Teaching Council on Thursday.

It was told that on six occasions he failed to turn up for work at Ridings and fell asleep during lessons and on a school trip to a zoo in 2006 and 2007. He was found to be a user of the class A drug after an incident in a Bristol flat in where he had his car stolen, and after calling the police, admitted to them he used the class A drug.

The maths teacher, who was not represented at the hearing in Birmingham, told the panel committee he 'had learnt his lesson' and wanted to move forward. Mr Horseman, who had worked at the Ridings school for 25 years, said he wanted to rebuild a reputation that he had spent a long time constructing. Asked why he had used the drug, Mr Horseman replied: 'I was unhappy at home, I wanted to get out. Nobody has ever caught me doing it, the only reason is I admitted it. 'I'm not proud, I'm ashamed and I've learnt a lesson from it.'

Mr Horseman told the panel he had only taken the class A drug for three to four months. When asked by a committee member how he could stop taking such an addictive drug, Mr Horseman said that after being found out, he 'had no wish or desire to carry on'. 'The situation frightened me,' he added. Aaron King, chairman of the GTC committee, said: 'The use of crack cocaine a class A drug by any member of the teaching profession is completely unacceptable.'

But Mr Horseman was allowed to carry on teaching at the 23million pound Merchants Academy. Mr King said the panel had taken into consideration his 'candour in accepting his past failings' and 'various stressful circumstances in his personal life at the time'. He added: 'We accept his assurance that such conduct will not be repeated. 'We have decided given the seriousness of the matters proved, a period of further monitoring of Mr Horseman's teaching progress is appropriate. We have therefore decided to impose a conditional order.' The conditions of the order specify that three times per year he will provide to the GTC a report from his employer confirming satisfactory conduct. It will remain in place for two years.



An email from Dr. David Whitehouse []

There is a good example of seeing what you want to see in climate data, cherry picking convenient data, spin and downright misrepresentation in today's media. Normally one ignores such stuff. It's obvious that when some 'media commentators', especially those without a science background and an extremist attitude, temporarily run out of strident rhetoric they turn towards the old standby of bashing 'climate change deniers' - the very phrase of which shows the bias and stupidity of their language and the unscientific nature of their outlook.

To wit, look at George Monbiot in today's Guardian. He talks of myths about climate change being promulgated in the media by manic and distorting commentators. The obvious comment about black kettles and pots comes to mind. A lot more scientific rigour is needed to support such a case and I can't decide if he is just sloppy with his figures or cavalier with them.

In proving that there is no recent standstill in global average temperatures Monbiot quotes the most recent WMO statement, but he does so selectively and not fairly, passing over their figure 2 which originates from the Met Office. Now look at this and tell me if there is no qualitative change in the data for the past ten years. To say there isn't would really make one a 'climate change denier.' Note the green data point at the end.

The WMO's figure 2 is here. Note that 2008 is tenth in the list of warmest years but that the top ten warmest years are all within each others error bars, i.e. statistically formally indistinguishable, that is (for Monbiot's benefit) unchanging.

Of course, if one then says, but look at the longer trend, over the past 50 years as quoted by Monbiot there is an obvious warming trend (which nobody denies.) But this is comparing apples and oranges. Monbiot wants to deny the past decade temperature stasis (no longer a minority view among scientists) by talking about data over a longer period and not sticking to the point. He's not the only one. In a press release the Met Office says that, "Over the past ten years global temperatures have warmed more slowly than the long-term trend."

On the face of it this is true but it does not tell the whole story, far from it. The Met Office performs a cunning sleight of hand in discussing the effects of El Nino and La Nina and volcanic eruptions on global average temperatures. Then they use 'trend lines' in recent temperature data to prove the point but ignore the effect of those very factors. Ignoring volcanic eruptions in the 1990's and the strong 1998 El Nino, coupled with a judicious choice of trend line duration and no error bars presents a very misleading case, turning the statistical flatness of the global average temperature since 2001 into a slight rise.

No undergraduate student turning in a report with such a shoddy disregard for statistics and misrepresentation of data would get away with this. Monbiot moans about George Will's writing in the Washington Post. Personally I don't think there is much difference between them.

A gross insult

Comment from Prof. Brignell in Britain

A greenie propaganda website has published a list of leading deniers. Why have Number Watch and its author been left out of this roll of honour? Admittedly Number Watch deals with a wide variety of nonsense in addition to global warming, but is it too much to expect some acknowledgement for the thought and effort that went into, for example, the essays?

Of course the propagandists got the story arse about face as they usually do. Marc Moreno does not send us original material. We send it to him and he kindly operates as a clearing house to keep the rest of us informed as to what others are saying. Note the ageism contained in the accusation "Others are aging scientists with strong conservative beliefs, motivating them to challenge action on global warming not because they disbelieve its existence, but because they are ideologically opposed to regulation of pollution." There are two main reasons that so many of us are old:
We were trained in the era when all scientists were taught to be sceptics (about everything) rather than believers.

We are retired and therefore not subject to blackmail within institutions that rely on handouts from state propaganda machines. Many younger scientists would speak out if they did not live in a climate of fear and the threat of careers without research grants.

It is an even more ludicrous than usual to claim that we are ideologically opposed to the regulation of pollution. Many of us were active in opposing real pollution when it was a problem (your bending author, for example, gave much time and money long ago to the cause of water purity, when our post-war rivers were a disaster area). What we do not accept is that carbon, the basis of all life on earth, is pollution.

As for having strong conservative beliefs, the political position of this site and its author has been clearly stated. Now that words like conservative and liberal have completely changed their meaning, anyone who does not conform to the authoritarian message is vilified as a conservative.

Ad hominem attacks are symptomatic of campaigners who are aware that they have lost the intellectual argument. This is a big attack by big losers.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Britain's heavy-handed "welfare" State again

'My baby was put in care after I was wrongly accused of abuse': Mother's nightmare after a foreign doctor misdiagnosed a medical condition. There should surely always be an immediate second opinion from a top expert in such grave matters. All it needed in this case was an internet search to reveal that the foreign doctor had got it wrong!

A young mother was arrested and her ten-day-old baby taken into care after doctors misdiagnosed a bump on his head as a sign of abuse. Dee Crawford, 19, contacted her health visitor and midwife for advice after her son, Michael, suffered a fall at home. She was told to take the baby - who was otherwise healthy after being born by caesarean section - to hospital to be examined. The lump was later found to be a cephalohematoma - a common condition which often results from a problematic labour.

However, the foreign doctor who examined Michael at the University Hospital of North Durham believed it was a `new' injury and called in police and social services to investigate. The first-time mother then had her baby taken away before being arrested on suspicion of assault. Police later allowed her to read the doctor's report about her son's injury, which claimed that cephalohematoma could not occur with c-section births. Back home in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, Miss Crawford researched the condition on the internet and discovered that the doctor had got his facts wrong. She pressed for an expert's second opinion - even offering to pay the four-figure fee herself

Eventually - after two-and-a-half weeks separated from her baby - a paediatrician at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary concluded that the swelling was `without a doubt' the result of a difficult labour and not suspicious. Mother and baby were then reunited. Durham Police have now formally dropped the inquiry.

Miss Crawford said midwives had pointed out that Michael - who was born on January 19 weighing 9lbs 8oz - had a bruise on his head shortly after the birth but said it was nothing to worry about. `What happened to me I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy,' she added. `I have lost so much time with my baby when I should have been bonding with him. `The experience of being torn apart so soon after the birth was so traumatic it was as if he had died. I couldn't eat or sleep until my name was cleared.

`I'm furious with social services and the police for putting me through this unnecessarily. If they spent more time on cases like Baby P and less on things like this then more babies would be alive.' She added that Michael had been on the Child Protection Register because she had suffered from depression, but claimed her mental health has been made worse by her treatment.

A Durham Police spokesman said: `We can confirm that a 19- year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assault but no further action has since been taken.' A spokesman for Durham County Council said: `We would never remove a child in the context of a suspected injury without first taking expert medical advice.'


Pro-Heathrow demo challenges Carbon Cult killjoys

Cheap flights for all

As eco warriors descend on Parliament this afternoon to protest against the expansion of Heathrow, an obscure counter demonstration will be taking place. It's quite unusual: Modern Movement will be demonstrating in favour of something, not against it: cheap travel. "What we want to counter is the small number of green campaigners who are making a lot of noise on this issue, and who are making it seem like reducing the number of people who can fly is the biggest struggle of the century," says student Alex Hochuli, who co-founded the new group. "The majority of people aspire to travel, love travelling, and want to have more of that."

Hochuli says he's against the "moralisation of flying" and points out that even if you take CO2 seriously as an catalyst for Thermageddon, flying contributes only 3 per cent of UK carbon emissions. So it's hardly worth objecting to on rational grounds. What could it be, then?

There's more than a whiff of snobbery about environmental objections to mass travel. In a TV show tonight, the toff historian Tristram Hunt (son of Lord Hunt of Chesterton, a climate modeller) mourns the age of motoring before the working class got behind the wheel. "As the working classes gained access to the motor car, they celebrated their mobility by buying up plots of land in beauty spots and coastal resorts across the south coast," he wrote on Monday. Oh no! "The historicism, aestheticism and idiosyncrasy of motoring were abandoned."

Today, plebs enjoying cheap flights cause a similar revulsion amongst the pious Green bourgeoise. Hochuli also has a sideswipe at the budget airlines for not doing enough to promote the cause of mind-broadening travel opportunities, in an interview here.

But while snobbery is a plays a large part of the eco warriors rhetoric, it can't explain it all. Try on this thought experiment. Suppose for the sake of argument that cheap flights are bad, and many internal flights are unnecessary, and instead we decided to build a Maglev train service linking British cities. What a wonderful thing that would be. Who do you think would be the first to object to it?

The anti-flying campaign reflects a deep hostility to modernity and progress. The earliest "ecological" thinking early in the 19th Century was to inspire the mystical "blood and soil" movements in Germany, which held that science was evil. From there, it's hard to escape the circular argument that anything that improves our lot is bad for the planet, and must be discouraged.


Al Jolson musical is performed in Britain without 'blackface' make-up

We read:
"In an age long before the rise of the politically correct mafia he was the world's most celebrated entertainer. And, central to Al Jolson's remarkble success were the memorable jazz and blues songs he performed in 'blackface' make-up.

But a new musical based on the American superstar's life has air-brushed away this key facet of the Jolson story to avoid causing offence. The producer of the stage show, which opens in Edinburgh next week, feared that diversity-conscious 2009 audiences may object to watching a white actor wearing black make-up - even if it was for the sake of an accurate portrayal of a world famous performer.

The decision was not supported by Allan Stewart, the actor who has the starring role in Jolson & Co and sings 17 songs, including several, such as Swanee, which Jolson typically performed in blackface....

In Britain, blacking up survived in mainstream entertainment until much more recently. It was not until 1978 that the Black and White Minstrel show ended its 20 year run.

Ironically, Jewish immigrant Jolson was a champion of racial equality in America at a time when racism was endemic. Born in 1886, he was fighting black discrimination on the Broadway stage by 1911. His promotion of equality helped pave the way for artists such as Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller.


NHS now kicking patients out too early

The number of hospital patients being discharged only to be readmitted as emergencies just days later has soared in the last few years, figures reveal. Statistics released by the National Centre for Health Outcomes Development show hundreds of patients are being rushed back to hospital days after being assessed as fit for release. The statistics will fuel criticism of the health service for being too target driven at the expense of providing long-term care.

Roger Goss co-director of Patient Concern, said that hospital trusts were always looking for ways to cut the number of days in hospital for operations. 'Readmissions are the inevitable consequence of so-called "bed-blocking", often a euphemism for high quality care,' he said. 'At the same time, hospital acquired infection rates are so bad that patients want to get out as fast as possible. Better yet, not go in the first place.'

The data reveals that the problem of adult patients having to be brought back to hospital for emergency treatment has risen by almost 20 per cent in the past four years. The figures show that in 2002-03 around 1 in 9 patients aged 75 or over was brought back to hospital as an emergency readmission within 28 days of first being discharged. But by 2006-07 the readmission rate had risen to almost 1 in 7. For adults under 75 the rate has also increased with 8.82 per cent of patients being readmitted in 2006-07, compared with 7.39 per cent in 2002-03. Children's readmission rates have also risen - but not at the same rate - seeing the ratio rise from 1 in 12 patients to 1 in every 11. In total it is estimated that the number of people who are readmitted to hospital as an emergency within 28 days is around 400,000 people per year.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said there were often a number of reasons why patients were readmitted which had nothing to do with poor standards of treatment or care. 'It is in the nature of some conditions, that repeated emergency single admissions will occur,' he said. 'For example, for children a sequence of readmissions is often preferable to a longer stay in hospital. 'Over the last few years patients requiring simple procedures or, in the case of chronic conditions, routine treatment or observation, are increasingly being treated in local and community settings rather than being admitted to hospital.' He added this often made it difficult to interpret readmission rates.


NHS apology over 100-mile birth journey

A woman was forced to give birth more than 100 miles from where she lived because of a lack of suitable cots for premature babies, it has been revealed. Natalie Page, 20, was transferred from hospital in her home town of Leicester to Birmingham, but then from Birmingham to Liverpool where she gave birth prematurely to a daughter on Sunday.

The hospitals involved apologised to Miss Page for the situation which has left her in Liverpool while the rest of her family are in Leicester. David Yeomanson, from Leicester's Hospitals, said: "We are sorry Miss Page had to be transferred via ambulance to Birmingham to deliver her baby, but it was important that she was in the best place to receive the best care for her very premature baby. "The decision to transfer her was made by her consultant as she was about to deliver her baby 11 weeks prematurely due to a pregnancy-related complication. "Unfortunately, we did not have a suitable cot available in our neonatal unit to take her very poorly baby. "We transferred her to Birmingham where they had the specialist neonatal facility for her new baby."

He said they did not have to do it very often, but are part of a neonatal network and transfer babies to a centre able to deliver the level of care and expertise needed for a premature baby. He added: "Whilst this is unfortunate it is not a unique event and all Maternity Units would take the same action in these circumstances."

A spokeswoman for Birmingham Women's Hospital said: "We are very sorry that Natalie Page was unable to give birth in our hospital last week."


How to slim the bureaucracy, British style: "Ministers have blown almost 1billion pounds axing an army of bureaucrats - only to rehire the same huge number. Government departments have cut almost 15,000 civil servants in the last three years, according to figures released by Parliament. Because of the generous redundancy packages given to Whitehall officials, the average payout was 60,000 - a total cost to the public purse of 882million. But despite the cull of Government waste, it can be revealed that ministries are taking on almost as many staff as they have ditched. Figures from just five departments - including the Home Office and Department of Health - show that about 5,000 permanent, temporary and agency staff have been taken on. If this is extended across all Government departments, the number of new staff will be around 15,000. Hundreds of civil servants have walked away with pay-offs worth tens of thousands of pounds, with some taking 100,000. Most of those taking voluntary redundancy are high earners - sparking fears the most experienced staff are disappearing from Whitehall. Incredibly, top officials have failed to carry out studies to discover whether the policy would trim budgets."

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