Monday, November 20, 2006


Loony Britain at work again

ANTI-BULLYING advisers should be employed by local councils to help to combat bullying in schools, according to recommendations from the Office of the Children's Commissioner. The advisers would mediate in cases where parents complained that bullies were not being disciplined. They would also dissuade bullies from abusing other pupils and provide advice for victims.

The new report, Bullying in Schools, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and to be published this week, states that parents often find that head teachers dismiss allegations that a child is being bullied. The new anti-bullying advisers would be selected and employed by local authorities. The report recommends that the parents of a bullied child should have the right to a hearing before a committee of school governors. It also wants new powers for the local government ombudsmen to intervene in schools where discipline is a problem.

Professor Carolyn Hamilton, senior legal adviser to the Office of the Children's Commissioner, writes in the report: "Some heads still respond to parents by rejecting the suggestion that there is any bullying in the school. "It may be alleged that the parent is overprotective or even a troublemaker. There may be hurtful suggestions that the bullied child is oversensitive or antisocial."

A DfES spokesman said the proposals would be examined by Alan Johnson, the education secretary. The spokesman said: "While in the vast majority of cases of bullying, schools do an excellent job, we want to ensure that every case is investigated thoroughly and that parents have an effective route of complaint if they feel inadequate action has been taken."

Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the children's commissioner, said of the report: "There is evidence that the present system is not satisfactory. Our proposals would lead to a more formal appeals process involving the governors and above all an independent aspect which has been missing until now." Aynsley-Green was himself bullied as a 10-year-old when his family moved to London from Northumberland and he was victimised because of his accent. He said that bullying is an "enormous problem" and he is keen for it to be "on the front burner". He added that new technology meant bullies had new ways to make their victims' lives miserable: "Until recently, if children are being bullied at school, they could go home and be in a safe environment. Now they can't escape because they are bullied on their mobiles or by e-mail."

Up to 70% of children have experienced bullying, according to a survey of 8,574 children released earlier this month by the charity Bullying Online. Half of bullied pupils said they had been physically hurt. When bullying was reported to a teacher, children said that in 55% of cases it did not stop. A report from the Office of the Children's Commissioner, Bullying Today, said Muslim children had experienced greater victimisation after the September 11 attacks in America and the July 2005 London bombings. [Odd that!]



FAITH schools have this year increased their dominance at the top of The Sunday Times's state primary league table - taking 60% of places in the list of the 500 best schools. The dominance of faith schools is likely to reopen the debate over whether such schools should change their strict admission policies. Since 2002, there has been a 10% increase in the number of church and Jewish primary schools in the top 500.

Alan Johnson, the education secretary, was last month forced into a climbdown over his plans to introduce reforms to ensure up to 25% of pupils at new faith schools came from other backgrounds. Kenneth Baker, a former Conservative education secretary, described the climbdown as "the fastest U-turn in British political history".

In the league tables published today, the most successful schools are Catholic and Jewish. Out of 1,700 Catholic primary schools, 141 are in the top 500; and out of 28 Jewish primary schools, six are in the top 500. A significantly smaller proportion of Church of England schools enjoy such success. Of 4,400 Church of England schools, only 142 are in the top 500.

In the two highest performing schools - North Cheshire Jewish school in Cheadle and St Mary and St Thomas Aquinas RC primary in Blaydon-on-Tyne in Gateshead - all pupils have achieved the maximum score in English, maths and science tests for the past three years. Experts have suggested the success of faith schools may be a result of their popularity with middle-class parents. Tony and Cherie Blair have sent their four children to Catholic primary schools.

According to Chris Woodhead, a former chief inspector of schools, faith schools are often the only realistic option for some parents in inner city areas. "If you cannot afford independent school fees, the local faith school may be the only one offering a decent education," he said.

Head teachers of faith schools, however, argue that a school's values rather than a middle-class intake is the key to success. Wendy Duffy, acting head of St Mary and St Thomas Aquinas, said her pupils were drawn from both affluent and less well-off backgrounds. "I think the strength of the school lies in its ethos," she said. "Gospel values are very important. They are essential to our mission."

Norma Massel, head teacher for the past seven years at North Cheshire Jewish school, said the moral and discipline code imposed by religious schools was a key to their performance. Her school in Cheadle, north Cheshire, draws pupils from as far as Northwich, which is 25 miles away from the school.

It can take dedication by parents to get places at church schools with some parents starting to go to church solely to get a place for their child. However, even this is no guarantee in some inner-city areas with schools reporting as many as three applications for every place. Others apply strict criteria: at the Our Lady of Victories primary, a small Catholic school in Putney, south London, children are only admitted if their parents have attended church diligently for at least three years. The head teacher, Margaret Ryall, said: "It is almost a register that is taken by the priest at the end of mass on Sunday. We impose a strict system so it is fair to all. I doubt whether non-Catholic parents could keep up that level of attendance."

Despite the prevalence of faith schools in the top 500, some community schools have enjoyed success. South Farnham community junior school in Surrey is one of three non-faith schools in the top 10. The school has more than 100 pupils sitting the tests and this year they all achieved the maximum score. Andrew Carter, head teacher for 18 years, said his results were the result of systematic teaching. "Smaller schools can rely on one excellent teacher, but this school has four classes sitting the test. "There is excellent teaching plus analysis of what extra effort is required to get all of them through the tests. There are a lot of small church schools that do well, but we take everybody."

There are no Muslim or Sikh primary schools in the top 500, but such faith schools are rare in the state sector. There are only five Muslim and two Sikh primary schools in the country.

Johnson last month announced plans to pass new laws to force faith schools to take more pupils from other faiths and non-religious backgrounds. He scrapped the proposals after lobbying from the Catholic church and complaints from backbench MPs.

The league tables of primary and secondary schools and the independent school tables are contained on the Parent Power CD-Rom and online.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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