Archive for January, 2012

David Cameron on ECHR – A Man for all Soundbites

From the august pages of the Daily Mail comes yet another story of David Cameron relying on the ignorance of the population to give the appearance of taking a tough line on ‘Europe’.

But while the issue bringing this latest piece of Cameron PR bullshit to the fore – the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that Abu Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan, lest evidence obtained under torture is used against him – the story in the Wail shows Cameron is not proposing to do anything about the legal basis for the Court’s decision, thus confirming nothing will change and that his posturing is nothing but meaningless hot air:

David Cameron will this week confront European judges blamed for stopping the deportation of extremist Islamic cleric Abu Qatada and tell them: ‘Stop meddling in  British justice.’

In a hard-hitting speech in Strasbourg, the home of the European Court of Human Rights, the Prime Minister will demand major reforms in the way the court is run.

He will say European judges must be more in touch with public opinion, accept more UK court rulings and let countries protect their own citizens and stop interfering in ‘petty’ cases.

If we use metaphor to explain what Cameron is doing here it demonstrates once again the fatuous nature of his latest intervention…  Cameron has a car that possesses features he does not like.  When the car is used the feature delivers performance he is not happy with.  But rather than focus on the addressing the feature that is affecting the performance, his solution is to demand the driver is changed.  The feature and its performance remain unaffected.

Cameron’s dishonesty is as striking as his lack of principle.  Like it or loathe it, the ECHR is not meddling in British Justice as he puts it.  The UK is signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and this country’s politicians, past and present, have seen to it this country is bound by its articles making it an integral part of ‘British Justice’. In the Abu Qatada case, below are the passages relevant to the judgement that was passed.

Being resolved, as the Governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the Rights stated in the Universal Declaration;

Have agreed as follows:

ARTICLE 1

The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.

>>>

ARTICLE 6

1.In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgement shall be pronounced publicly by the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interest of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

2.Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3.Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;

(b) to have adequate time and the facilities for the preparation of his defence;

(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

(d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

This is not ‘meddling in British Justice’, this has been made a cornerstone of our justice system.  And for all his whining, Cameron has no intention of trying to change a single letter of the text.  As for the judgement itself, the ECHR has clearly explained why Qatada (Omar Othman) cannot be returned to Jordan.

The UK’s agencies were stupid enough to grant asylum to Abu Qatada in the first place (as they do to so many foreign criminals, terrorists and ne’er do goods who pitch up here) and now want rid of him.  The Jordanians have provided a way out for the UK.  The UK wants to take it.  But Jordan extracts evidence via torture and mistreatment.  Why should that bother us?  After all, Qatada is believed to be part of Al Qaeda, they engage in terrorism and cold blooded murder and wish us harm, so why should we prevent him from facing Jordanian justice?

My response is grounded in a beautiful piece of dialogue in that great 1960s film, A Man for All Seasons, where Sir Thomas More (Paul Schofield) is arguing with his future son-in-law, William Roper about why he will not arrest Richard Rich and has let him leave the house freely despite his efforts to undermine More:

More: Go he should, if he were the Devil, until he broke the law.

Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?  This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s!  And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?  Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

The same holds for Qatada.  While Article 6 prevents his deportation to Jordan, the same Article also protects the rest of us from extradition on the basis that ‘evidence’ against us obtained under duress is likely not safe.  Abu Qatada may very well be the Devil, but I too will give him the benefit of law for my own safety’s sake! If the UK or Jordan want to put Qatada behind bars for the rest of his life, they should obtain incontrovertible evidence of his guilt in a legal and responsible manner.  If they can’t then they have no justification for doing anything other than protecting his rights and liberty.

Cameron’s naked politicking, deceit and ignorance suggest he either doesn’t get it, or more worryingly is determined to trample over our liberties.  What this country needs is a man for all seasons.  What we have is a man for all soundbites.  Truly the heir to Blair.

Want to get your own way? Play the climate change card!

Regular readers will know we occasionally get little nuggets of stories from correspondents living near the global hub of the climate change alarmism effort, Norwich.  Last week it was 4×4 fire appliances that had become necessary because climate change is causing more fires and flooding.  Today we have yet another instalment, but this time it is a variation on the usual climate change theme.

Opponents to a proposed housing development in Pinebanks, Thorpe St Andrew, have come up with the novel argument for not building houses on a particular parcel of land… namely that it could ruin ‘rare geology’ vital to research into climate change!

Forget Arctic ice cores, bristlecone pines, glacier retreat and the mating habits of hedgehogs. Cast them from your mind.

The key to unlocking our climatic past and modelling our toasty future resides in a gravel pit in Pinebanks, just down the road from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

A spokesman for Natural England said:

The gravel pit is an important regional geological site. Our role is to make sure any rare geology is protected. If we think the development may damage this then we may object to it.

We want it protected so future generations can benefit from the study of it and reveal more about the earth’s past.

It would be interesting to know if Natural England et al, expressed similar concern for this ‘rare geology’ when gravel was being extracted from the pit.  You know, before someone came up with the idea of building houses around it.

Given the enthusiasm for anything AGW related at Broadland District Council, it seems the gravel pits will be spared being turned into residential estate.  It seems when it comes to this corner of Norfolk, if you want to get your way on any subject, just suggest some far fetched linkage with climate change and your wishes will be granted.  Climate change is the trump card in the big game.

Perhaps the time has come for the Norwich Evening News to rename itself the Climate Change Digest, to better reflect its editorial agenda to brainwash the local population into a CO2 centric terror and relay propaganda from UEA.

What does Ofsted mean by ‘Satisfactory’?

Regular readers will be aware this blog has been looking at the can of worms opened up by the serious assault on two teachers at Burwood School.

We return to the subject today following a story in today’s Guardian, which explains:

The Ofsted rating of “satisfactory” for schools – widely regarded as a euphemism for a poor school – is to be scrapped, the new chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, will propose as he outlines new plans to tackle “coasting schools”.

Granted, the Guardian’s angle with the story is to put forward the teaching unions’ narrative about this being another mechanism designed to shoehorn schools into Academy status.  But it nevertheless highlights an issue with Ofsted’s school inspections that is evidenced by the two most recent reports submitted about Burwood – one of the 28% of schools given one of these ‘Satisfactory’ ratings.

The Wilshaw proposals, that schools must demonstrate improvement over the course of two more inspections over a three-year period or face going into special measures, would have signalled greater focus at Burwood before the attack took place.  Burwood School’s 2011 Ofsted rating overall was ‘satisfactory’ as you can see below…

But this is no different to the inspection rating in 2009, where a separate inspector also gave Burwood a ‘satisfactory’ rating.  At the time, with the school emerging from special measures, the inspector described Burwood as a rapidly improving school.

Although the two reports do not present the key criteria in a like for like fashion (ensuring it is difficult to establish a benchmark to judge future performance – update… and a tweeter advises that the criteria has changed again from 1st January this year) what we can see is that there were items in the 2009 report, shown below, rated ‘2’ or ‘good’.  After that 2009 report it seems the rapid improvement arrested.  By 2011 there were no ‘2’ or ‘good’ ratings.

Having given Burwood School another satisfactory rating and highlighting required improvements, some of which are incredibly similar to those highlighted in 2009, why did Ofsted not consider putting the school back into special measures?  The direction of travel, to coin a phrase, was clearly not one of improvement.  If anything things were slipping backwards, but this seems to have been blithely dismissed and swept under the carpet.

One wonders if special measures had been in force again and there was more scrutiny on the inconsistencies in classroom discipline, and the excessive culture of rewarding pupils with fun activities instead of lessons, the 10-year-old alleged attacker might have had his behaviour nipped in the bud before he exploded out of control.

While Ofsted was content to rate Burwood School as satisfactory, it seems Ofsted’s own actions in addressing failings at the school were anything but.  It could be argued they share responsibility for what happened in that classroom on 5th January.

Where is that?

Busy busy busy at the moment. But just spotted this in the Failygraph.  Is it any wonder sales are falling when the nation’s supposedly leading broadsheet boasts such basic errors as these?

If there is such an evident lack of attention to detail in the copy by highly paid professionals, how can we trust the paper not to lack attention to crucial details in its news reporting?

Year on year the Failygraph’s average daily circulation is down 7% to below 590,000.  It’s even worse at the Financial Times and the Guardian, where year on year average daily circulation is down 14.4% and 13.1% respectively according to the Press Gazette.  There are a number of reasons for the decline but it is not helped by the freefall in standards and factual news reporting.

December’s newspaper circulation figures…

Burwood School assault – the questions Ofsted must answer

When this blog did what the media didn’t, and named Burwood School as the venue of a serious assault on two teachers by a 10-year-old pupil, we took a look at the Ofsted inspection report from 2011.

The report mentioned concerns by parents and carers about safety at the school, but this was offset by the inclusion of the finding that:

Burwood is a safe school

and that:

students are unanimous in confirming that they feel safe in school

At the time we said that:

Given the incident that has taken place, that assessment finding should surely come in for substantial scrutiny – something any half decent media would be focusing attention on.

The media, God love them, haven’t got that far yet.  Only the Daily Mail seems to have dug deeper into the story.  What the Mail has done is obtain comment from the parents of Diane Whitehead, the teacher whose leg was shattered and kneecap dislocated in the incident.  Although some people speculated the injury may have been caused by an awkward fall while restraining the child, it transpires the injury came as a result of a deliberate karate-style kick to the leg moments after the boy had headbutted another female teacher in the face, knocking her unconscious.

What stands out in the interview is the previously unreported news that Ms Whitehead suffered another assault at the school in 2009 that resulted in two broken ribs.  Reports of this previous incident cannot be found in the archives of the local or national press.  It appears to have been hushed up.  However, 2009 was the year that Ofsted took Burwood School out of special measures, having been placed in them after the 2007 inspection.

So what we have is a substandard level of performance at Burwood in 2007 necessitating special measures… sufficient progress supposedly being made to take the school out of special measures in 2009 – the year Ms Whitehead suffered the previous serious assault… parents and carers expressing concern about safety at the school in 2011 which Ofsted appears not to have investigated more deeply despite observations of behavioural management issues… then this grievous double assault in 2012.

Ofsted has questions to answer in respect of its inspections at Burwood School:

  • Did the assault in 2009 take place before or after the Ofsted inspection?
  • If the assault preceded the inspection, were Ofsted told about it?
  • If Ofsted were told, was it taken into account when lifting the school out of special measures?
  • If the assault followed the inspection, were Ofsted told about it?
  • If Ofsted were told, did they consider another inspection?
  • Were the Ofsted inspectors conducting the 2011 inspection aware of the 2009 assault?
  • If they were aware, why did the school get a satisfactory rating despite safety concerns of several parents and carers and evidence of issues around behaviour management?
  • If they were not aware, why did the inspectors not investigate the parental concerns more vigorously?

As the media is not asking them, we will.  An FOI request is on its way and we will return to this subject when we have received a reply.

More climate change hysteria from Norfolk

It seems there is a correlation between the climate change obsession of the media and local authorities in Norfolk and their proximity to the University of East Anglia.  Perhaps we could come up with a causal link that we could report as incontrovertible.

No matter what happens in Norfolk, they see the hot hand of anthropogenic global warming behind it.  So it is that the Norwich Evening News reports today that Norfolk’s Fire and Rescue Service is spending £3.2 million on new 4×4 vehicles:

because climate change is causing more floods and heath blazes in Norfolk.

No matter what weather condition is experienced, be it warmer, cooler, wetter or drier, the climate change moster is behind it all.  But given we keep hearing that the effects of climate change are yet to be experienced and it could be decades or more before nature wreaks her bitter revenge on mankind for burning fossil fuels, these new vehicles must be expected to last a long time.

It was fascinating to see that Norfolk fire chiefs are now experts in climate and are qualified to ascribe the sometimes challenging conditions they work in to changes in the climate.  At least it was until we see our old friends at the Met Office have lined their pockets with more taxpayers’ cash by drawing up a climate change impact assessment.  Norfolk Fire and Rescue now feel bold enough to state:

And we know from work that the Met Office has done that for every one degree summer temperature hike you get up to 23% more fires.

Presumably it has nothing to do with an increase in population and more people using the local heathland.  Perhaps an increase in arson cases is down to people driven mad by the changing climate and feeling the need to set light to things.  Norfolk’s fire overlords go on to explain that the new appliances are required because:

In somewhere like Norfolk we have got Thetford forest and the peat at Methwold, which are susceptible to fires and we need to be able to get to them.

One wonders if the fires in Thetford and Methwold only became a problem after a group of scientists decided we were causing the planet to heat out of control.

Well, I suppose it’s one way to get extra money for fancy new kit.  One wonders how long it will be before the Ministry of Defence and the militray top brass start justifying the procurement of new toys on the basis that climate change will make it harder to conduct operations with existing equipment…

The folly of HS2 and government spending priorities

In its ‘wisdom’ the government has given the go ahead to HS2, or the second phase of the high speed rail programme.

The initial outlay of over £17bn is supposed to fund the HS2 line from London to Birmingham.  The line will be electrified because electricity is considered cleaner than diesel.  In the years that follow the plan is to extend the line to Manchester and then on to Scotland, increasing the cost to at least £33bn.

This is a shining example of the short sightedness, idiocy, ignorance, dogma, call it what you will, of the government’s spending priorities.  There is not a pressing need for this expensive rail line – although as Richard North makes clear on EU Referendum, there are certainly political pressures at play for it.  Yet there is real concern about the ability of this country to produce the power it needs to keep the lights on.

£17bn could pay for the construction and eventual decommission of at least five nuclear power stations.  One would think that would be a priority.  Instead the government chooses to construct something that will draw power from the grid, not something that puts power into it.

It is bad enough that this government has a fetish for unreliable wind power and puts huge sums of taxpayers’ money into subsidy for its provision.  But it is worse that the government refuses to subsidise new nuclear build that would benefit millions of people and instead chooses to channel huge sums of money into one small section of the rail network that will benefit a very limited number of people.

There is no shortage of tax pounds going to HM Treasury.  But there is a problem with the decisions about how that money is used.  Increasingly it is frittered away, diverted to whims and fancies of the political elite, rather than allocated to the delivery of quality essential services for the population.

No matter how much we complain or shout in protest, the political class is unmoved.  This is proof that we do not live in a democracy.  Elections may take place, but the decisions of the political class are not controlled by the electorate.  Consultation about the HS2 line saw an overwhelming majority of respondants reject the principles, specification and route selection for HS2, but their views were dismissed out of hand.

Democracy is about more than putting an ‘X’ on a ballot paper, it is about representatives who are elected doing our bidding.  In what way are the political class doing our bidding?

Update: If you use Twitter you might be interested in contributing to this – #betteruseof32bn

A very Scottish independence referendum

There is a body of opinion in Scotland that wishes for that country to leave the United Kingdom and become a fully independent nation state, embodied by the Scottish National Party (SNP).

With the SNP having beaten Labour to form the devolved government in Holyrood, the notion of a referendum on Scottish independence has ceased to become a moot point and has become a genuine prospect.  As a result the independence issue in Scotland seems to be coming to life.  There is a feeling that as Scots have become used to their SNP devolved administration they are increasingly warming to the idea of full independence – or enhanced devolution at the very least.

Polls last year by YouGov and Ipsos-MORI showed a majority of Scots voters still opposed to independence, although support for independence was shown to be increasing.  In between those two polls, however, Scotland’s Herald newspaper commissioned a poll by TNS-BMRB that saw more respondants in favour of independence than against it.  Momentum is clearly with the pro-independence argument and it seems to be building.

We have long been subjected to the sight of the main three political parties uniting under a ‘consensus’ banner to oppose any idea that doesn’t suit their wishes.  The same thing is happening in respect of the issue of a Scottish independence referendum.  The main three parties want to lead a government of the United Kingdom (setting aside the EU elephant in the room).  The idea of English, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs running a government that does not encompass rule over Scotland doesn’t fit with their delusion of power.  What the Scottish people may want is neither here nor there, which is why Westminster is holding on tight to its legal authority over binding independence referenda by countries that form the United Kingdom.  And therein lies the problem.  That is why we are seeing non Scots holding forth in front of the media saying what the Scots can and can’t do, must and mustn’t do.

Polling data shows the desire for independence is growing, therefore the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems are now pressing hard for a referendum in Scotland to be held sooner rather than later.  The aim is clear – force the SNP to hold the referendum now before momentum builds and more people swap to the independence side.  Understandably the SNP wants to wait until it thinks enough Scots will vote for independence.  The resulting bunfight is now in full swing.

The only people who should decide the future of Scotland are the Scots.  The only people who should decide the timing of the referendum in Scotland and the question(s) asked of the Scottish people are the Scots.  The Scots must be freed of the constraints imposed by Westminster and allowed to decide their future for themselves.

We are now witnessing hypocrisy writ large.  There are people who expressed outrage that Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty referendum was subject to heavy interference by the EU, but who are endorsing similar interference by the UK in Scotland’s independence debate.

The Scots must be free from interference to organise themselves, reap their own rewards and make their own mistakes.  The same must hold true for the English, Welsh and Northern Irish.  That is what democracy and self determination entail.

Never mind the irony that they might secure for themselves independent nation status only to surrender it to governance by the anti democratic European Union, or help bring about the EU’s regionalisation agenda.  Never mind that they may have misplaced assumptions about North Sea oil ownership and revenues.  Never mind the complex issues around fiscal and military (to name but two hugely important matters) separation from the UK.  The Scots must decide for themselves – and they must do so on their terms and at a time of their choosing.

It’s ok, it’s other people’s money

With so many frustrating issues going on in this declining country, it is only to be expected that people often miss what’s going on right under their own nose.  This morning saw one of those ‘close to home’ issues thrust into consciousness at Mind Towers, with the arrival of an email from Mind Junior’s school that read:

Dear Mr Mind

Did you know that just by registering your child for Free School Meals the school gets extra money?

For every child registered, Xxxxxx Xxxxxx School will get £600.

Registering is quick, easy and confidential. Full details are given in the attached document. Please contact me if you have any queries.

If you qualify, your son or daughter will receive a free, healthy meal at lunchtime, you could receive other financial help, and the school gets an extra £600. If your child does not want to have a school meal, the school will still get the additional funding.

Please read the attached document and make an application if you think you qualify – the additional funding will make a real difference to the provision of education for your son or daughter.

Yours sincerely

And we wonder where our tax pounds go..?  A few moments of research revealed to my blind eyes that variations of this email have been sent to parents by schools up and down the country in recent weeks and that the scheme facilitating this is the Department of Education‘s ‘Pupil Premium’.

Its purpose is set out on the department’s website and explains:

The Government believes that the Pupil Premium, which is additional to main school funding, is the best way to address the current underlying inequalities between children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) and their wealthier peers by ensuring that funding to tackle disadvantage reaches the pupils who need it most.

But the department also makes clear that:

Schools are free to spend the Pupil Premium as they see fit. However they will be held accountable for how they have used the additional funding to support pupils from low-income families. New measures will be included in the performance tables that will capture the achievement of those deprived pupils covered by the Pupil Premium. From September 2012, we will also require schools to publish online information about how they have used the Premium. This will ensure that parents and others are made fully aware of the attainment of pupils covered by the Premium.

However as experience has shown us when it comes to public spending, as always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – if you will pardon the pun. Organisations often find ways around the rules in order to use the resources made available to them in a manner they were not provided for.  The style of the emails and letters sent out by schools show that effort is already underway.

If a family has financial difficulty and cannot afford to provide a meal for their child during the school day, then I feel it is right that the taxpayer funded safety net should kick in to provide for a meal.  It should always be a provision based on need.

But what we are seeing is that even if a family’s means – augmented by some form of credit or benefit that makes their children eligible for free school meals – enable them to provide a meal for their child, schools are encouraging them to register for free meals just so the school can claim more taxpayers’ money. Encouraging parents and carers to register for something they may not need – and implore them to do so even if they don’t need or want to take up the free meals – so it benefits the school, feels like fraud.

If a family is getting by without making use of free school meals, then do they really have the ‘need’ that free school meals are being used as a measure to gauge? Once again it seems the government have failed to think things through and a proportion of the £1.25bn of our money set aside for the poorest in our society will be hoovered up by schools for people who in reality do not fall into that bracket.  But as always no one seems to care because it’s other people’s money and the government can always pick our pockets for more of it in the future.

BBC takes advantage of Burwood School incident to push economic downturn meme

Hours after our previous blog post about the 10-year-old boy who hospitalised two of his teachers, in which were the only entity to provide details of the school and its circumstances, the BBC has followed our lead and updated its report to include the details covered in our post.

BBC London despatched reporter Paul Curran to report from outside an empty Burwood School on Saturday afternoon and share some of the details published on AM.  However, the BBC journalist has shamelessly taken advantage of the situation to further the corporation’s line on the economic downturn (code for cuts).  We have posted the details of this over on the Biased BBC blog, where AM is now a contributor.

Autonomous Mind blog – 2 years old today!

Today marks two years of Autonomous Mind!

In those two years we have published 973 posts and welcomed approaching three quarters of a million visitors.  We’ve posted comment on numerous politics and current affairs topics, hosted some excellent guest posts and also broken a number of stories exposing failings in public organisations and the media.  It’s been fun!

A big thank you to every reader, contributor and commenter for helping to make this blog what it is.  Your visits and comments are greatly appreciated.

A special thank you also to those bloggers who link to this blog – and those great people (you know who you are) who have provided so much invaluable advice, support, encouragement and friendship.

Another example of lazy journalism failing the public – Burwood School

What is the point of journalists?  Increasingly in this country we see reporters publishing stories they have not written, and to which they add virtually nothing.

A story doing the rounds today is a glaring example of this churnalism.  Picked up from the newswires by the BBC, national papers and a raft of regional titles, is the story of a 10-year-old boy who has been arrested for allegedly attacking two of his female teachers at his school in Orpington.  One has facial injuries, but the other has a broken leg and dislocated kneecap.

All the reports and headlines are virtually identical, as you can see from the Press Association (the likely origin of the story), the BBC, the Independent, in The Sun, the Metro and more besides.

But all of these outlets miss the opportunity to put the story into all-important context.  For while they content themselves to repeat a police spokesman’s words saying that police attended a school in Avalon Road, Orpington, and detailing the injuries sustained, none of them name the school and therefore help the audience to understand more about what happened.

The only school on Avalon Road is Burwood School, which describes itself thus:

So the incident has not taken place in a run of the mill mainstream school, but in a boys only establishment made up of around 44 youngsters with various problems who are not suitable to be in maintstream education.  Not only that, but an establishment placed into special measures by Ofsted for two years in 2007 and was subsequently forced to reduce the designated age range of its pupils so it could no longer accept youngsters aged between 7-10-years-old.

While this information does not detract from the seriousness of the incident and the apparent extreme violence meted out by a mere 10-year-old, it is clear the school runs a higher risk of violent incidents taking place due to the troubled nature of its pupils.  Although it came out of special measures in 2009, the 2011 Ofsted inspection‘s key findings clearly show standards at the school have a lot of improvement to make:

The Ofsted report goes on to mention that concerns have been raised by a minority of parents and carers about safety in the school, something which appears to have been dismissed by the inspectors who state:

‘Burwood is a safe school’

and go on to add that:

‘students are unanimous in confirming that they feel safe in school’

The students? Since when does their opinion trump that of responsible parents and carers?  It is interesting therefore that this information is shared in the report given Ofsted confirmed in their introduction that their inspection was somewhat devalued (my description) by the fact that:

There were limited opportunities for lesson observations because Year 11 students were out of school on study leave throughout the inspection, and two of the five remaining classes went on an educational visit for the whole of the second day.

Given the incident that has taken place, that assessment finding should surely come in for substantial scrutiny – something any half decent media would be focusing attention on.  As should the feeling running through the report that pupils determine too much of what goes on in the school at the expense of formally planned and disciplined educational activity.  There are clear issues here that are of public interest, but will likely go unexplored because the media has failed to provide all the information.  The media is leaving the public in possession of only part of the story,  resulting in a very misleading impression of the circumstances.

The question is, why did none of the journalists who published this story take a few minutes to uncover and report these important details before making the story live?

We already know the answer.  This is yet another example of our media being lazy, derivative and unfit for purpose , therefore ill-serving the public audience.  No doubt it will fall to blogs to tell the story the media is incapable or unwilling to research and publish, and serve the public interest.

Catastrophe Denied

With a hat tip to Anthony Watts at Watts Up With That? here is a short video critique of catastrophic man-made global warming theory, based on presentation slides used in a series of public presentations and debates in late 2009 and early 2010.  The author is Warren Meyer, author of the web site climate-skeptic.com.

As Watts makes clear:

While the world has almost certainly warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age in the early 19th century, and while it is fairly clear that CO2 and other greenhouse gasses may be responsible for some of this warming, climate alarmists are grossly overestimating the sensitivity of climate to CO2, and thus overestimating future man-made warming.

While the theory of greenhouse gas warming is fairly well understood, most of the warming, and all of the catastrophe, in future forecasts actually comes from a second theory that the Earth’s climate system is dominated by strong positive feedbacks. This second theory is not at all settled and is at the heart of why climate models are greatly over-estimating future warming.

While it dates back over a year we have not linked to this before.  It’s well worth a watch, especially as it will make sense to laymen.

Resolutions open thread

Happy New Year everyone.  Have you made an interesting New Year resolution?  Is there something you are going to focus on in 2012?  Why not share it and discuss?  The thread is open for you…


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