Will this totally unscientific mania ever fade?
A children's advisor on healthy eating, Michala Forder, has been warned her son Zac is overweight and risking cancer because he is one pound over NHS guidelines.
Health officials sent a letter to Mrs Forder telling her that Zac [above], who weighs 3st 5lbs, is in danger of health problems in later life including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure because of his weight.
Mrs Forder, a pre-school practitioner who advises children about healthy eating, said she was furious at the letter and accused Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust of labelling children and potentially pushing them into crash dieting.
The trust has been weighing and measuring around 11,000 reception year pupils, aged four and five, and year six pupils, aged 10 and 11, as part of the National Child Measurement Programme. It is designed to alert parents to potential health problems. Parents can opt out of the scheme, but if they do not, they get a letter telling them if their child is underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or very overweight.
Mrs Forder, 37, from Carterton, Oxon, said she and other mothers at Edith Moorhouse Primary School, in Carterton, were angry at their children being labelled overweight. The letter indicated that Zac's ideal weight for his age and height should be between 2st 7lb and 3st 4lb.
Mrs Forder said she had not told her son about the contents of the letter, adding: "I could have told him the doctors think he is overweight. He could then take it upon himself to start on an eating disorder because of it."
The PCT apologised for any distress caused to Mrs Forder, and said it was following Department of Health guidelines on the format and content of the letter.
A spokesman for Beat, an eating disorders charity, said: "There surely has to be a better way for this information to be put across that will make things better, not worse. "Such rigid interpretation of these guidelines only serves to stigmatise children for their weight and shape."
British infants' classrooms 'becoming increasingly overcrowded’
A considerable irony here: It is only with the very young that small classes seem to be beneficial. The class size fetish is in general a crock, according to the research. Mandates to reduce class sizes just encourage the hiring of incompetent teachers. See here.
The number of unlawfully large classes for infants has more than doubled in two years, according to government figures released yesterday. Ten thousand pupils aged 5 to 7 are taught in classes of more than 30 children. This age group should be taught in smaller groups but the number of infant classes classed as unlawfully large has risen from 130 in 2007 to 310 this year.
David Laws, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Schools Secretary, said: “The number of children in unacceptably large classes has rocketed over recent years. These huge classes make it difficult for teachers to give our youngest children the individual attention they need when they start school.
“The situation could be even worse next year given the shortage of school places across the country. We know that smaller infant classes make a real difference. We need to be cutting class sizes to private school levels of 15.”
Nick Gibb, the Tory schools spokesman, said: “The huge rise in unlawfully large class sizes underlines concern that there will not be enough primary provision to cover the likely number of children needing a place in September. “It would be a tragedy if the Government’s short-term policy of reducing surplus places led to children missing their first few weeks of school.”
Civitas, the think-tank, said even class sizes defined as small — under 30 — were too big, particularly when compared with other countries. An official said: “Academic research on class size defines ‘small’ as being between 15 and 20 pupils in a class. Yet in 1997, the Government’s pledge for small infant class sizes set a legal limit of 30 pupils. The Government has failed to honour even this flawed pledge by allowing infant classes over 30 in some circumstances.”
Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The Government’s pledge to reduce class sizes appears to be unravelling at the edges. For all those primary teachers who are now facing the impossible job of fully responding to each child’s needs in excessively large classes, this deterioration is a blow both to their stress levels and to teaching and learning.”
Big waste of money on crooked NHS doctors
Family doctors accused of misconduct are being suspended for up to four years and at a cost of up to £900,000, according to figures revealed by the NHS under the Freedom of Information Act.
Primary care trusts in England disclosed that 134 GPs have been suspended over the last three years. The trusts pay 90 per cent of the doctors’ salaries during suspension, costing the NHS £8.2 million.
Norman Lamb, health spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, described the costs as scandalous. “They involve a huge waste of public money and show that the system of pursuing allegations against doctors is failing,” he told The Guardian.
GPs suspected of misconduct are suspended by their primary care trust or by the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors. Trusts handle less serious cases and must seek approval if they last longer than six months. John Canning, of the British Medical Association, said that the disciplinary system can be “quite slow” to ensure that both sides have time to prepare. “But even bearing that in mind, too many cases take too long,” he said.
David Stout, director of the PCT Network, said that the speed of the system coulod be frustrating. “Some of the delays are excessive, very costly and benefit nobody.”
The trust for Haringey, north London, spent £1.4 million in the last three years on three GPs who were suspended. Newham, east London, spent £1.1 million on seven suspended doctors since 2006.
Leftist British justice boss publicly mocked as police chief slams 'Hokey Cokey' justice system
Jacqui Smith was yesterday publicly mocked by police for presiding over a ‘Hokey Cokey’ justice system that ‘ let all the prisoners out’. With the Home Secretary sitting uncomfortably next to him on stage, Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever said officers are ‘sick to death’ of seeing the same criminals again and again.
At the Federation’s annual conference in Bournemouth, he added: ‘The Government has created the Hokey Cokey criminal justice system. ‘Yes, conference, it’s in out, in out, let all the prisoners out. In out, in out, shake the system about.’
Mr McKeever also said officers view her with ‘real suspicion and distrust’ after clashes over pay, pensions and workplace reform. Miss Smith was later harangued from the conference floor by rank-and-file officers about the MPs’ expenses scandal and the Government’s treatment of the Gurkhas.
During his speech, Mr McKeever described as a ‘big lie’ the belief that constant modernisation and reshaping of the police will solve crime more effectively. ‘We and the people we serve are being failed by the rest of the criminal justice system,’ he said. ‘A criminal justice system that isn’t working and is seen by many people as being there to protect offenders’ interests above the interests of law-abiding members of the public.
'Rather than addressing the real problem of ineffective sanctions, ineffective education programmes and ineffective rehabilitation, the focus is on us, the police, to detect the same people more often and bring them before the courts again and again.’
Mr McKeever said the police are left in a ‘constant state of flux’ as politicians constantly demand change. ‘In effect, in the eyes of politicians, the police are the problem that needs to be solved, when the reality is that it is the criminals who are the problem and we are the solution,’ he added.
It is the second year running Miss Smith has had a tough time at the conference. Last year former chairman Jan Berry taunted her with a pun about her lacking ‘balls’.
Both Miss Smith and Mr McKeever paid tribute to police officers who have recently been killed in the line of duty. The Federation chairman called for those who kill police to ‘rot’ in jail for the rest of their lives.
Mr McKeever criticised the delay in awarding Detective Constable Stephen Oake – who was stabbed to death in a terror raid in 2003 – the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. ‘We should never have to wait five years to recognise our colleagues who make the ultimate sacrifice keeping safe the communities we serve,’ he said.
Miss Smith also praised the ‘hard work’ of police during the G20 protests last month. But delegates denounced Independent Police Complaints Commission chairman Nick Hardwick, who publicly criticised officers before an investigation into their conduct at the G20 had finished.
Slurred by the adoption Nazis: Critics of gay parenting are branded 'retarded homophobes'
Hate speech is fine when Leftist social workers use it. The headline above is from the "Daily Mail", deliberately showing that two can play the abuse game
People who have concerns about the adoption of children by gay couples are 'retarded homophobes', the state-funded national adoption agency said yesterday. Those who protest over controversial gay adoption laws are merely 'whinging', according to the British Association for Adoption and Fostering. Its insulting description angered senior MPs and former Cabinet Ministers, Roman Catholic and Church of England leaders.
It also offended disability campaigners, who have been trying to discourage the use of the word 'retarded' for years. Whitehall has banned the word for civil servants. Many of those who are worried about gay adoption say that approving same-sex relationships goes against their Christian faith.
Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute thinktank, said last night: 'Christians are tired of being marginalised. 'We don't expect everyone to agree with us but organisations such as the BAAF should try to avoid this kind of language.' Tory MP Julian Brazier, co-chairman of the all-party Commons group on adoption and fostering, said: 'I work with BAAF all the time and I know how much they bring to adoption. 'I must say I am very sad that they should use this language about people who have an honest disagreement with them.'
Author Patricia Morgan, who has published a study of gay adoption, said: 'It is disgraceful that they do not wish to discuss the pros and cons of gay adoption. They just go in for abuse. They do not appear interested in evidence about the outcomes for children. And it is a disgusting phrase to use.'
The British Association for Adoption and Fostering sets rules and organises training for social workers across the country. Every local council with a children's services department is a paying member of the organisation, and the bulk of its £6million-a-year budget comes from the taxpayer. It runs the national adoption register for the Department of Children, Schools and Families. The 'retarded homophobe' attack was published in a BAAF guide to adoption for homosexual couples. It was repeated in its newspaper Be My Parent, which advertises children who need homes.
Would-be gay adopters were told: 'Most importantly, don't worry about society. 'Children need good parents much more than retarded homophobes need an excuse to whinge, so don't let your worries about society's reaction hinder your desire and ability to give a child a loving caring home.'
BAAF's Pink Guide to Adoption for Lesbians and Gay Men was written by Nicola Hill, a former Guardian journalist and charity worker. It was launched at a BAAF conference this week aimed at 'overcoming resistance - celebrating the role of lesbian and gay carers'. The meeting discussed 'what lesbian and gay carers can offer to the adoption and fostering process and how agencies can facilitate their contribution'. Those attending were also told that 'we will confront the challenges that such initiatives may provoke to established attitudes and assumptions'.
The BAAF's protective attitude to gay couples appears to differ from the way it deals with other people. The organisation strongly supports the legal requirement that the perceived interests of children are paramount and the wishes of would-be parents are of minor importance. It insists that children go to homes only of adoptive parents of the same race. It questions would-be adoptive couples about their views on race and says ' vigorous efforts are made to find a family that reflects the child's individual identity'.
Couples who wish to adopt are often rejected because social workers consider them too old or overweight, or because they smoke. Some have even been judged to be 'too middle class'.
Until Tony Blair's 2002 Adoption Act, children could be adopted only by married couples or single people. The new law made it possible for unmarried and gay couples to adopt. Mr Blair argued that the reform would increase the proportion of the 60,000 children in state care who win new families through adoption. But the numbers have actually fallen. Since 2004, adoptions from care have dropped from 3,800 a year to 3,200.
The great majority of those are white children. Black children are missing out because there is a shortage of black couples wishing to adopt, yet social workers oppose sending them to non-black families.
There were just 30 adoptions by gay couples and 50 by lesbian couples last year. There have been setbacks to the cause of gay parenting. In 2006, gay foster parents Craig Faunch and Ian Wathey were jailed for paedophile offences against boys at their home in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. The couple had been the first gay foster parents in Yorkshire. An inquiry found social workers had regarded them as 'trophy carers' and failed to respond to signs of abuse because they feared being accused of discrimination.
Gay adoption provoked a major political row in 2007 when Labour's Sexual Orientation Regulations made it unlawful for adoption agencies to refuse to help gay prospective parents. Opponents of the move included Cabinet Minister Ruth Kelly, the senior Roman Catholic leaders in England and former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.
Earlier this year there was a fierce controversy when a Scottish couple said they were warned they would never see their two grandchildren again unless they dropped their opposition to them being adopted by a gay couple. For two years, they fought for their rights to care for the little boy and girl whose 26-year-old mother, the couple's daughter, is a recovering heroin addict. They finally agreed to an adoption but were shocked to be told the children were going to a gay household. When the grandfather protested, he said he was told: 'You can either accept it, and there's a chance you'll see them twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again.'
The word 'retarded' has been considered unacceptable for some years. Advice on 'disability etiquette' distributed to civil servants says it must be avoided in all circumstances. A spokesman for the British Institute for Learning Disabilities said: 'We have not used the term for at least ten years. It is not acceptable to us.' Comedian Russell Brand was strongly criticised in the U.S. last year for calling George Bush a 'retarded cowboy'.
CAP AND GO HUNGRY: THE TRAGIC REALITY OF GREEN BRITAIN
Millions making big sacrifices to pay utilities bills, new research confirms
Warnings of pensioners going hungry in order to heat their homes weren't over-the-top, after all, new research shows. A new report has served to confirm the fears of many consumer groups and charities - that millions of UK households are having to cut back on their food bills and other essential simply to pay for their gas and electricity.
For several months now, organisations such as Help the Aged have been shouting Cassandra-like from the wings for the government to do more to help the most vulnerable in British society, particularly the elderly who are at the greatest risk from cold weather yet who are the least able to go online and switch utilities suppliers.
Now, such claims don't appear so sensationalist, with fresh research carried out by Consumer Focus revealing that 44 per cent of customers have been forced to cut back on essential items as the average combined fuel bill stands at £1,288.
What's more, the study also found that 65 per cent of those polled were "shocked" at the size of their most recent utilities bill, with around the same proportion far from optimistic that the recently-announced price cuts from the 'big six' suppliers will make any real difference to their personal finances.
Sales of black dolls rocket despite race row
"Shoppers from across the country have rushed to buy golliwogs at a store which was criticised for selling the dolls. Thing-Me-Bobs has been flooded with orders from scores of customers after the row made national headlines.
Joint manager Wendy Jee said sales of the £1.99 black-faced dolls on sticks had rocketed sincethe Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality demanded they were pulled from shelves for being highly offensive.
But Mrs Jee said they had received a sackful of letters from supporters across the UK urging them to 'stand firm' and to 'stick to their guns'. "They have been selling very well. We had 39 come in on Friday - we put them out first thing on Saturday morning and by the end of the day they had all gone. Normally we would have expected to sell two or three a week," said Mrs Jee.
Margaret Dean, who also manages the store in Sudbury, Suffolk, said: "We have had a letter from a lady who has been to Africa where they are making and selling them. It seems to me it is the white people complaining who are going over the top being politically correct. "Everyone wants them now because they know where they can get them from."
Margaret Thatcher's daughter Carol was axed from BBC1's The One Show for using the term golliwog in a chat with a fellow presenter to refer to tennis ace Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.