Friday, August 14, 2009

Britain's useless political police again

Insulting a homosexual is about the only thing that will get a quick response from them. They took FOUR hours to respond to nurses being threatened with rape. And even that was only after heavy intervention from a magistrate

A chief constable has apologised personally to two student nurses who had to wait four hours for help after a gang of intruders threatened to rape them. Flatmates Amy Overend, 19, and Melissa Cooper, 22, barricaded themselves in their rooms and rang 999 when four men sneaked into their hospital accommodation shouting abuse. But when they called again after an hour they were told they were classed as a ' secondary emergency' because they were behind locked doors.

Miss Overend then called her father, an ex-magistrate, who repeatedly called the control room to demand that someone was sent round. By the time officers arrived the gang had run off, but the nurses were worried they would return.

Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Julie Spence said the force's response fell 'well below' the standards expected. She added that the fact that it was dealing with a high volume of calls at the time was 'no excuse for the poor handling of the incident'.

The gang burst into the flat in Peterborough at about 8pm on August 3. The girls bravely ordered them outside, but one climbed on to a roof and continued to hurl abuse. After an hour and a half and two calls to police the intruders ran off and Miss Overend rang her father, Chris. He made three calls to police and each time an officer was promised - but none arrived until midnight, four hours after the girls' initial call.

Miss Overend said: 'If it happened in a normal detached house and a group of men walked in and threatened a group of girls, can you imagine what the response would have been? Just because we are in flats, their response should be no different. They were all very, very aggressive. 'My flatmate told them to get out. At that point, it was more anger taking over. Afterwards, we were very scared. 'As they were leaving, they said, 'We are going to remember your faces and names, and next time, we are going to rape you'.

Last night her father, a 55-year-old publican, said: 'If four males threatening two young girls in secure nurses accommodation isn't considered a priority then something's badly wrong.'

Mrs Spence - who was last year tipped to become Britain's first female head of the Metropolitan Police following Sir Ian Blair's departure - has also promised an investigation. A force spokesman said it had been dealing with 40 incidents at the time [It would be interesting to know what those "incidents" were. On form, they would have been mostly trivial]. He added that the men who threatened to rape the two trainee nurses are still being hunted.


Brave African shames emasculated Brits

Courage was once a virtue in Britain. No more. "Safety" is all. Besides, the police are just as likely to lock up the victim as the criminal. So most Brits turn away these days

The fleeing robber was bigger than him and could have been armed, but shop assistant Amevi Kouassi didn't think twice about tackling the burly yob who attacked an old woman. 'I had to help,' he said. 'The way I was brought up in my home country of Togo, if you hear someone call for help, you have to go to their aid. It's what we are taught as children. 'It doesn't matter if you know them or don't know them. If someone is in trouble you need to help them. It is wrong to ignore them and walk away.'

As this dramatic CCTV footage shows, Mr Kouassi, 30, was true to his word. After hearing the 70-year-old pensioner's screams he grabbed the man who had just mugged her in Sheffield city centre, wrestled him to the ground and locked him in a nearby church hall office while he waited for police to arrive. The mugger, Marc Smith, 37, escaped out of a fire exit, but the description given to police and CCTV evidence led to his swift arrest and conviction.

Yesterday the modest have-ago-hero was praised by police for his bravery after Smith admitted robbery and was jailed for five-and-a-half years at Sheffield Crown Court.

Mr Kouassi, who is starting an information studies degree course at the University of Sheffield next month, had just left work at Marks & Spencer in Sheffield and was walking home on a June evening when he heard the woman's cries for help. 'I saw a lady on the floor and a man running. She shouted that he had got her bag so I chased after him and grabbed him,' said Mr Kouassi.

'You can't stand by and let something like this happen. The man had picked on a helpless old person and I didn't want him to get away. 'I managed to grab his arms, I pushed them down through his t-shirt and pinned them behind his back. 'He was shouting "you have got the wrong man", but the old lady was saying ''no you haven't''. 'I took him to a church hall nearby and a man there locked him in the office.'

Mr Kouassi, from Manor Park, Sheffield, who is 5ft 9in tall and ten and-a-half stone, arrived in the UK from Togo in 2006 and has been given Home Office permission to stay for five years. He added: 'I don't consider myself to be a hero. I was just doing what I have been taught to do. 'He was taller and heavier than me but I managed to pin his arms behind his back. 'Someone said afterwards that he could have had a knife but I didn't think of that at the time.' He added that the elderly victim had sent him a thank you card.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Jade Brice, of South Yorkshire Police, said: 'It is thanks to Mr Kouassi's brave actions that we have been able to arrest and convict the offender. 'He put himself in harm's way in what was an incredibly brave action.'


Are many Brits too lazy to work?

A lot of employers seem to think so. Britain does after all have a welfare state which sometimes means that you are better off not working. So many firms are looking to hire migrants even as British job losses rocket

Companies are planning to hire more migrant workers even as Britain's jobless toll rises by almost 3,000 a day, a new survey shows. Nearly one firm in 12 aims to take on immigrants because they cannot find suitably qualified Britons, according to the report. The hiring plans are revealed in the survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and accountants KPMG.

It comes as official figures are expected to show the number of unemployed rose 250,000 in the three months to June. This would take unemployment above 2.5 million, with further job losses to follow in the coming months.

The survey shows that 8 per cent of employers intend to recruit migrant workers in the third quarter of 2009. Some bosses said this is because they find migrants more 'hardworking and reliable', while others said they tend to be better qualified. This comes after official figures showed the number of non-UK nationals in employment increased in the first quarter of 2009 while the number of UK nationals fell. The survey undermines controversial claims by Gordon Brown that he wants 'British jobs for British workers'.

The CIPD said Labour was failing to ensure that large sections of the British-born population have the right skills to compete in the jobs market. Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser at the CIPD, said: 'The best way to provide "British jobs for British workers" is to make Brits better equipped to compete in the jobs market rather than raise barriers to skilled migrants. 'Most are recruited and retained by employers because they provide skills or attitudes to work in short supply among the homegrown workforce.'

Economist Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said the jobless pain will be particularly acute for young UK school and university leavers. He forecasts unemployment will peak at 3.2 million next year. 'Even if the economy does return to growth in the third quarter, activity is still unlikely to be strong enough for some considerable time to come to prevent further net job losses,' he said.

Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions has started an inquiry into why there is a large gap between the unemployment rate, which stands at 7.6 per cent, and the proportion of the population claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, which is 4.8 per cent. There was speculation that this is partly because some of those being laid off are well-paid City workers, while others might not have claimed benefits if they were hoping to get another job quickly.


£1.2bn bill for the bureaucrat army within Britain's NHS

The NHS has become a 'bureaucratic black hole' under Labour. Spending on NHS bureaucracy has almost doubled in four years, research shows. Nearly £1.2billion went on administrators and clerical staff in Primary Care Trusts in 2007/8, a rise of 81 per cent since 2003/4. The total is nearly twice as much as the £700million the Health Service spent on anti-cancer drugs last year, with some patients being denied life-prolonging medication. A further £139million was spent on management consultants - almost three times as much as the £ 53million spent five years ago.

The increase comes despite the number of PCTs halving from 303 to 152 - which was supposed to release £250million to front line services. PCTs are spending £115million a year on agency administrative and clerical staff, more than twice as much as in 2003-04. At the same time acute hospital trusts - which provide the healthcare patients receive in hospital - have cut their spending on bureaucrats by 8 per cent.

Andrew Lansley, health spokesman for the Conservatives, who obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, said: 'Every penny spent on unnecessary management and paperwork is a penny less to provide better care for patients. 'These figures show just how far Labour have broken the promise they made in 1997 to spend NHS funds on patients not bureaucracy. 'The Conservatives are the only party that has set out a clear plan to root out this waste and bureaucracy and get money to the front line.'

Michael Summers, of the Patients Association, said 'Surely if these management consultants were doing the job they're paid for the bill would be going down because there's less need for them.' But health minister Ann Keen said administrative and clerical staff formed only 8 per cent of the NHS workforce of more than 1.3million. [What about all the time that doctors and nurses spend on paperwork? EVERY NHS employee is a bureaucrat, with the possible exception of the cleaners -- but there are not many of them]


I deeply resent the Americans sneering at our British health service - but perhaps that's because the truth hurts

President Barack Obama's political enemies are rounding on his controversial proposals to extend government involvement in health care. One way in which they are doing so is to hold up our own cherished NHS for ridicule. His Right-wing critics accuse the NHS of putting an 'Orwellian' financial cap on the value of life by allowing elderly people to die without treatment.

The case of a dental patient in Liverpool who supposedly had to superglue a loose crown has been mentioned as an example of the appallingly low standard of dentistry in Britain. At the wilder reaches of seemingly lunatic allegations is the suggestion that anyone over the age of 59 in Britain is ineligible for treatment for heart disease. One leading Republican has also declared that the 77-year-old Senator Edward Kennedy, who is suffering from a brain tumour, would have been allowed to die in this country on account of his relatively advanced age.

In fact, President Obama's plans fall well short of the sort of state-run health service we have in this country. He wants to ensure that the 40 or 50 million Americans - many of them black or Latino - who do not have health insurance are able to receive the same standard of care as the majority who do. Nevertheless, his proposals are characterised as 'socialist medicine', and the NHS is invoked as the living example of this abomination.

We may be sure, I think, that most of those who are cheerily dredging up British scare- stories do not really believe them. We are merely providing the ballast in a domestic American argument that is getting dirty. Let's not take offence at this wildly overstated depiction of Britain as a sort of feral, failed state with Third World standards of health care.

The question that interests me is whether there is a grain of truth hiding amid these insults. I'd say there was. I'd say that under the present system which President Obama is hoping to improve, most middle-class Americans are liable to receive better health treatment than their British counterparts. If I were a middle-income American living in Seattle or Chicago, I could almost certainly rely on superior care than if I lived in Birmingham or Newcastle.

This would probably not apply if I were poor, though there is a safety net for the sick and uninsured in the United States that is more effective than British critics commonly suppose. I accept, too, that American healthcare can be wasteful and unnecessarily extravagant. It suits vested interests to perpetuate this lavish system, which partly explains the attacks on President Obama.

Once, in America and suffering from bad earache, I visited a local doctor. In this country I would probably have been greeted with a weary smile, and, if lucky, offered an aspirin. In the United States I was cosseted by a pretty nurse, and subjected to several exhaustive tests by an accommodating doctor, one of which involved me sitting in a sound-proof booth to have my hearing tested. At the end of it all I was presented with a bill for several hundred dollars - and the verdict that I had nothing to worry about.

But whatever the failings and excesses of the American system, the statistics suggest that it delivers better outcomes than the NHS when dealing with serious illnesses. I say 'suggest' because we should always be wary of comparing figures compiled in different ways in different countries. In treating almost every cancer, America apparently does better than Britain, sometimes appreciably so. According to a study in Lancet Oncology last year, 91.9 per cent of American men with prostate cancer were still alive after five years, compared with only 51.1per cent in Britain. The same publication suggests that 90.1 per cent of women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2002 survived for at least five years, as against 77.8 per cent in Britain.

So it goes on. Overall the outcome for cancer patients is better in America than in this country. So, too, it is for victims of heart attacks, though the difference is less marked.

If you are suspicious of comparative statistics, consult any American who has encountered the NHS. Often they cannot believe what has happened to them - the squalor, and looming threat of MRSA; the long waiting lists, and especially the official target that patients in 'accident and emergency' should be expected to wait for no more than four - four! - hours; the sense exuded by some medical staff that they are doing you a favour by taking down your personal details.

Most Americans, let's face it, are used to much higher standards of healthcare than we enjoy, even after the doubling of the NHS budget under New Labour. Of course, the U.S. is a somewhat richer country, but I doubt its superior health service can be mainly attributed to this advantage. Americans should beware of any proposals that might threaten their standards, though President Obama is right to want to extend them to the poor.

As for us, it is time we accepted that the NHS is not the envy of the world, if it ever was. Even though it may not deserve many of the brickbats being thrown at it by Right-wing American critics, the practice of rationing expensive cancer drugs and treatments is undoubtedly more widespread in Britain than it is in America.

The principle of equal healthcare for everyone regardless of income is a precious one. The fact is, though, that there are other, better ways to achieve this than through an increasingly inefficient, centrally planned leviathan set up over 60 years ago. In our hearts many, perhaps most, of us know this. We all have horror stories to tell about the NHS, though we are likely to have good things to say about it, and its sometimes selfless medical staff, as well.

An increasing number of us take out private health insurance, and many others would like to do so if they could only afford to, which hardly indicates unbounded confidence in the NHS.

And yet, despite its shortcomings, we are reluctant to think about changing it, and any politician who suggested doing so might as well slit his own throat. For all his admiration of the NHS as a result of the treatment it offered his severely disabled son, David Cameron is quite clever enough to recognise its deficiencies, but he will only dare talk about putting ever more money into it as it is. I doubt he will be any braver, or more imaginative, in government.

In view of the failure of President Bill Clinton's healthcare proposals more than 15 years ago, and the opposition he is now facing, the omens may not be good for Mr Obama. If he really could preserve all that is good about the present U.S. system, while making it available to everyone regardless of income, I would wish him all the luck in the world.

The President is discovering that people are apt to want to defend and preserve what they have. The same is true of we British and our lumbering health service. The difference, though, is that what the Americans have is, for the most part, better than the NHS.


Britain's NHS ‘is putting the patient last’

In Britain the health secretary matters far more than the patient, argues a new report

While British health ministers have been quick to applaud the advantages of a “national” health system to fight the swine flu outbreak, the very centralised nature of the service cuts two ways, according to a new report. Civitas, the think tank, blames the monolithic nature of the National Health Service for “putting the patient last”. It argues that the “customer” of the NHS business model introduced by Tony Blair and continued by Gordon Brown is the health secretary rather than the patient.

The report sees much in favour of attempting to introduce private provision within the state system and competition between NHS trusts to attract patients. But it says that all this has been stymied by incessant interference from the Department of Health. Health service managers say that a staggering total of 69 public bodies – excluding the Department of Health and 10 regional strategic authorities – currently regulate, inspect or demand information from NHS organisations. Questions posed by bodies such as the Care Quality Commission and the Environment Agency are frequently duplicated or irrelevant, imposing a huge unnecessary burden.

James Gubb, director of the health unit at Civitas, which has no political affiliation, said the nature of Britain’s centrally funded system inevitably meant that ministers were constantly intervening and setting targets because they saw themselves as the taxpayers’ guardian. This undermined the market mechanism. He contrasted Britain's “unique” approach with that in continental Europe, which is based on competition between insurers and between hospitals and clinics. “The continental system seems to deliver better results than the NHS and has done so for a number of years,” he said.

Recent government reforms in the Netherlands to introduce more competition between insurers showed the way ahead. “Some 20 per cent of patients switched insurers in the first year. Some insurers are burgeoning because they are so popular while others seem to have gone bust.”

The Civitas report, Putting Patients Last, concludes that the NHS has put into practice the 10 Commandments of Business Failure as drawn up by Donald Keough, past president and former CEO of Coca-Cola. Among these commandments are “assume infallibility” – the report says politicians talk of the NHS as “the envy of the world”. However its outcomes are worse than other universal health care systems and the NHS ranks low in international surveys.

Another commandment is “isolate yourself” – healthcare is conducted in separate "silos", particularly regarding communication between GPs and hospitals.

A further commandment, “be inflexible”, is met by hamstringing units with state control: staff pay is set centrally, capital expenditure is constrained, IT is a top-down programme and availability of drugs, such as expensive cancer treatments, is centrally determined.


Below is a report of a GOOD experience by the standards of what many British mothers experience

She was lucky nature did most of the work. If there had been complications ....

"Rationing" is a word justifiably wreathed with alarm in the United States. With the looming prospect of Obamacare, horror stories are pouring in from Britain and Canada about nationalized medicine: The callous administrators, the long waiting lists for routine treatments, the scandalously high death rates for ailments that are, within our borders, swiftly cured.

But rationing isn't always as extreme as it sounds, as I discovered 12 years ago when I lived in London. I had just climbed out of a black cab and entered the hospital where I was about to have our second child. I was experiencing the fierce urgency of now, and if you've ever had a baby you will know exactly how urgent and fierce "now" can be.

Very quickly, I was ushered into a grim little room with a gurney. The great thing about hospitals under nationalized systems like Britain's National Health Service is that you don't go through an absurd amount of paperwork before gaining entrance.

The lousy thing is that no one working at the hospital even remotely shares your sense of urgency, or feels the need to pretend he does. This is an unappreciated aspect of the rationing that invariably results from single-payer systems: Those who are fragrantly termed "caregivers" needn't lavish sympathy on patients who can't go anywhere else. In my grim little room, I seemed to have been forgotten by the authorities. When a nurse finally arrived, her attitude was decidedly brisk. "You look ready to go," she observed. "Right, do you have your paper supplies?"

"My what?"

The nurse was annoyed. She explained that I was supposed to have brought a supply of towels and cotton wadding. Did I not know this? I did not, I apologized, eager to appease a powerful individual who might bring me to a bed. I explained that I was used to American hospitals, which, so far as I could recall, provided paper products to their customers. I hoped it would not be too much trouble that I had failed to provide the materials needed by the National Health Service.

Privately I was shocked, though I did not say so. Having traveled in the impoverished Third World, I was used to bringing syringes and other medical supplies with me in case they weren't available. But here, in Britain?

The nurse, only faintly exasperated, led me to another, much nicer small room. I told her I didn't want an epidural, which she said was just as well since there was very little chance of getting one. Paper products were clearly not the only comforts in short supply. What followed was medically uneventful. The infant arrived, and was weighed and measured. Now, obviously, it was time for us to be wheeled to a maternity ward to recuperate for a couple of days.

But hospital personnel kept popping in to say that they were having trouble "getting a bed" for us. The room we occupied was needed by the next customer, yet there was no spot in the maternity ward for us to take. So it was that six hours after arriving at the hospital, I was in a taxi again heading home. This time I held a newborn in my arms.

I had just tasted the health care rationing that Britons live with as a matter of course. It wasn't a ghastly experience, but it also wasn't something that Americans, accustomed as we are to comfort and plenty, would regard as acceptable.


Two-for-one supermarket deals face the axe in Britain

Stupid flailing at the wind which will achieve nothing. If people are careless with their money in one way, they will be careless in other ways. And if people tend to waste their money on food, why is it anybody else's business but theirs? The amount of manufactured food (which most food is these days) produced simply reflects the amount demanded. A more extensive comment from Britain here

Buy-one, get-one-free offers could be banished from supermarket shelves under a government plan to reduce Britain’s food waste mountain. Supermarket chiefs will be told instead to offer half-price deals and package food in a greater range of sizes to suit the single person’s fridge as well as the family’s.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is demanding that stores agree to a tough target on reducing food waste or face legislation that forces them to make savings. Buy-one, get-one-free deals, known as “bogofs”, are one of the main reasons why a third of all food is wasted, a report on food security and sustainability found.

Households throw away 4.1 million tonnes of food each year that could have been eaten if it had been managed better, according to Wrap, the Government’s waste watchdog. Food waste costs the average household £420 a year and the average person throws away more than their own weight in food annually. Single-person households, now almost a third of all homes, waste the most, partly because bogofs encourage them to buy quantities they cannot eat by the use-by date.

The report said that the new industry target on food waste, which would be set next year and cover the period to 2015, would have to save households at least £370 million a year. Supermarkets will be encouraged to phase out bogofs on perishable food. In the interim, they will be required to give shoppers advice on how to reduce wastage, for example with labels on whether items can be frozen and recipes for overripe fruit and vegetables.

Defra and the Food Standards Agency are also preparing new guidance to reduce confusion about date labels on food. Wrap research found that millions of people did not know the difference between “sell-by” and “use-by” dates and also failed to realise that they could eat food after the “best-before” date.

A new label, the Healthier Food Mark, will be launched this year for food that meets minimum standards for nutrition and sustainability. Hospitals and prisons will buy food with the mark and it will be rolled out nationwide from 2012.

Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, is also seeking to relax restrictions on GM food, by permitting more trials of GM crops in Britain and allowing more imports of GM grains for feeding livestock.

The British Retail Consortium said it would resist attempts to restrict bogofs. “Retailers know their customers better and should be allowed to decide what’s the best policy,” a spokesman said. People who took home more than they could eat should give it to family and friends, he added.


The osteoporosis jab: Twice-yearly treatment cuts the risk of spinal fracture in women by two thirds

A cheap twice-yearly jab to treat osteoporosis could soon be available in Britain. Successful trials of the drug denosumab have shown it dramatically cuts the number of spine and hip fractures in women, and helps bones regrow. It has also been found the drug can help men with prostate cancer who are undergoing hormonal therapy, which raises the risk of bone loss.

The latest data on almost 8,000 post-menopausal women having an injection every six months found it cuts the risk of suffering a spinal fracture by two-thirds. The risk of a hip fracture was cut by 40 per cent, while there was a 20 per cent reduction in the chances of other broken bones. Women also regained up to 9 per cent of bone density during treatment in the three-year trial.

The data from these trials, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is being evaluated by the European drug safety authority. Licensing approval could be granted within a few months and denosumab may be available on the NHS in 2010. Although a final price for the drug has to be agreed, it will probably cost between £50 and £80 a year per patient - cheaper than some other osteoporosis drugs currently available.

Professor Graham Russell, of Oxford University, said: 'These results suggest that denosumab offers an important new approach to prevention of fractures in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.' He added that because the drug was administered by an injection it would be more convenient for patients who had problems taking oral therapy.

In a separate trial of 1,400 men undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer, injections over three years resulted in a two-thirds lower risk of spinal fracture compared with a 'dummy' treatment. There was a 'significant reduction' in the risk after just one year of treatment, and an increase in bone density.

Study author Dr Matthew Smith, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre in the U.S., said there were currently no approved treatments for bone loss in men having prostate cancer treatment. He said: 'Bone loss and fractures are an important but often unrecognised problem for prostate cancer survivors. 'In this large international study, denosumab markedly increased bone mineral density and decreased the risk of fractures in many men receiving androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer. 'The efficacy of denosumab was apparent as early as one month and was sustained for three years,' he added.

Denosumab works in a different way to existing medicines as it stimulates patients' immune systems to block a protein called rank ligand, which triggers the breakdown of bone strength in sufferers.

But there are side effects, the most common being joint pain, back pain and high blood pressure and cellulitis skin infection. [A lot depends on how severe and frequent these effects are]

At least 120,000 patients a year suffer fractures in the vertebrae of the spine and 60,000 others break their hips. At least 5,000 men each year are treated with hormonal therapy for prostate cancer.

Professor Roger Francis of the National Osteoporosis Society said: 'We welcome this forthcoming and exciting new treatment. 'This drug is not yet licensed for use, but when available, it will add to the choice of drug treatments available for people at risk of breaking a bone because of osteoporosis. 'However, patient safety is paramount and, as with any new drug to market, risks and side effects will need to be fully assessed.'

The drug is being developed by Californian biotechnology company Amgen, which has applied for a marketing licence in Europe. A spokesman said: 'We hope it will be licensed shortly and available to patients next year.' The drug will be assessed by the Government's rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence before being allowed widespread use on the NHS.


British class consciousness is still overpowering for most

Teachers 'prevent' comprehensive pupils from applying to Oxford and Cambridge

Bright pupils from comprehensives are being put off applying to Oxbridge because of fears over "elitism", according to researchers for the Sutton Trust. Teachers often promote the view that Oxford and Cambridge are "not for the likes of us", it was claimed. The Sutton Trust charity said that pupils from state schools needed better guidance to help them apply to leading universities.

Last month, Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, said more needed to be done to widen access to higher education. More than four in 10 students currently admitted to Oxford and Cambridge are from independent schools, even though they educate just seven per cent of children in the United Kingdom.

The Government is now considering introducing new guidance urging universities to give pupils from poor families a two-grade "head start" in the admissions process. But the Sutton Trust suggested that schools - not universities - were often to blame. Dr Lee Elliot Major, the charity's research director, said teachers often confused excellence with elitism.

"What we've found is that independent school pupils with similar grades to state school pupils are far more likely to apply to leading research universities," he said. "One of our concerns is that there is a confusion between excellence and elitism in many state schools - that often the prestigious universities are perceived to be 'not for the likes of us'."

The Sutton Trust is due to publish research later this week which will demand an overhaul of careers advice in schools. Around half the guidance pupils currently received in state schools was poor, Dr Elliot Major said. "We're also concerned about teachers - that half of state school pupils, even if they had the brightest pupils in their class, they wouldn't advise them to consider Oxbridge," he said.


Labour's 1.3m words of advice for British schools: Volume of annual guidance swamps teachers

Heads were swamped with nearly 1.3million words of Government guidance last year - one and a half times as many as in the Bible. They were sent more than 250 documents including a 'simplification plan' detailing how officials had reduced bureaucracy. It ran to 90 pages. If all the 3,982 pages of guidance emailed to schools between April 2008 and April 2009 were printed, the stack of paper would be 16inches thick.

Other information included a document on 'reducing data burdens', as well as advice on what to look for when buying a musical instrument and a guide to the EU member states.

The stream of paperwork was revealed by the Conservatives, who analysed documents sent in a fortnightly email from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove accused ministers of inundating schools with rules and guidance instead of letting teachers get on with their jobs. 'Instead of giving teachers the powers they need over discipline or fixing the devaluation of the exam system, [Schools Secretary] Ed Balls is swamping schools with such a tide of paper that it is obvious heads cannot read more than a fraction,' Mr Gove said. 'We will give teachers much more freedom, but we will make them more accountable to parents instead of bureaucrats.'

The guidance notes run to 1,269,000 words. This compares with 788,000 in the King James Bible and 885,000 in the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Several of the missives cover data collection, while a guide for school governors published in April lists 37 policies schools are legally required to draw up, including rules on target-setting, community cohesion, accessibility and collective worship.

John Dunford, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: 'Unless over-regulation is reduced schools will continue to sink under its weight. 'Heads are forced to make a judgment as to what they can implement and what they can't but the inspection system assumes it all should have been implemented.'

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was not Government policy to email full documents to schools, and that hard copies were sent only in 'exceptional circumstances'. She added: 'We make no apology for alerting schools to the information they need to deal with important issues like child protection, bullying and race equality.'


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