Thursday, September 03, 2009

Nasty British university finally trumped

A law student who refused to accept the results of her final examinations has won a four-year legal battle to have her marks upgraded. Alice Clarke was given low marks in two assessments for her Bar Vocational Course that all lawyers have to pass to practise as a barrister. She claimed that the low marks for her oral examinations in advanced criminal law and legal negotiation were because of disagreements with her tutors and asked Cardiff University to reassess them. When it refused, she pursued her claim through the High Court.

An independent assessor who listened to her performance in criminal law examination gave her 71 per cent instead of the 40 per cent that she originally received. The university was ordered to allow her to retake the negotiation test, which she passed with 62 per cent instead of 46 per cent.

In a written judgment Mr Justice Wyn Williams ordered that the revised results should be accepted as though she had passed when she sat the papers the first time.

Mrs Clarke, 43, a mother of two, studied law as a mature student after a career as a nurse. She said that the legal battle to have her results reassessed had been worth it even though it has cost her tens of thousands of pounds. She said: “I am very glad to have won but I am sad that I have lost four years of my career fighting this battle. “The university only finally accepted I had passed in March, four years after I took the exams. It’s been a living nightmare but I am just so pleased the court has vindicated me.”

Mrs Clarke was determined to have the original results cancelled out after claiming that disagreements with tutors had led to her being marked down. She said: “I was worried that barristers’ chambers wouldn’t take me on if they thought I’d failed the two papers at the first attempt. “I decided to challenge it through the courts even though I knew it would cost me thousands of pounds. On a professional level it’s simply astonishing, on a human level it’s extraordinary the way I have been treated by the university. They banned me from taking a resit, they banned me from campus and they even began disciplinary proceedings against me.”

After graduating in law in 1998 Mrs Clarke carried on working as a nurse and bringing up her two children Sarah, now 12, and Aaron, 9, before taking the advanced law degree. She was finally registered as a barrister in March and is hoping to find work representing people whose homes have been repossessed.

Mrs Clarke is waiting for a High Court hearing to decide who is responsible for the majority of costs in a case that she believes has legal fees of up to £400,000. She said: “I don’t know the exact amount of my costs but they could be as much as £100,000. There have been eight hearings in the High Court but however much it cost me I was determined to fight to its conclusion.”

In his written judgment, Mr Justice Williams said: “I have reached the conclusion that the decision of the extenuating circumstance committee of June 30, 2005, to refuse the claimant’s application for extenuating circumstances relating to her negotiation assessment should be quashed. “Unless any representation is made to the contrary, I propose also to quash the decision of the reconvened examination board of September 27, 2005, insofar as it relates to the claimant’s application for extenuating circumstances.”

Cardiff University said that it was considering the implications of the judgement:“The university is aware of the judgment handed down at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. At this stage, the university is considering the implications of this judgment in consultation with our legal advisers. “It is of relevance that the university offered independent marking at a hearing as long ago as October 2006. “Mrs Clarke only agreed to this after 18 months and three orders of court. This delay caused the court to order Mrs Clarke to pay towards the university’s costs.”


Australia: School covers up brutal bashing

Days after a 15-year-old boy died after a schoolyard brawl, a Gold Coast high school has been accused of covering up a savage assault that left a 17-year-old boy with a fractured skull. Southport State High School student Angelo Feraru, 17, will need plastic surgery after the unprovoked attack on August 21 that broke his nose and fractured his skull. His mother Mihela is just grateful her son, unlike Jai Morcom, is alive.

Angelo was sitting, eating his lunch when he was attacked by another student and punched in the face. His face was covered in blood and he was taken by ambulance to the Gold Coast Hospital where doctors said the teen's nose was badly broken and his sinus bone fractured. Doctors reset his nose and told Mihela her son would need extensive surgery to repair the damage.

Despite the severity of the attack, Southport State High School failed to report it to police. It handled the issue internally by dishing out a 10-day suspension. [What a joke!] Queensland Police yesterday confirmed they had no record of the vicious assault.

It is understood Angelo's attacker is a fellow student with a history of violence. He was expelled from another Gold Coast school after attacking a fellow student, breaking his jaw. He transferred to Southport High School where he assaulted another Southport student only three weeks before attacking Angelo.

On Monday, Ms Feraru and her son went to the Runaway Bay Police Station to report the incident but were warned against the complaint. The officer who dealt with the pair warned Angelo of the potential fallout if he pressed charges. "They tell us to be careful because Angelo has to live with this kid for the next few months before he finishes school," said Ms Feraru.

Gold Coast police district Superintendent Jim Keogh said it seemed 'incredible' police had only been told of the matter nine days after the assault. He said police needed Angelo to make a formal statement before officers could act on the complaint.

Mrs Feraru said she was scared to send her son back to school.... Ms Feraru said she went to the police station hoping they would stop the violence.

The danger of inaction is all too clear after the death of Jai Morcom last week. The 15-year-old died in Gold Coast Hospital on Saturday after suffering massive head injuries during a brutal brawl over lunch tables on Friday. "It make me feel sick in my stomach," said Ms Feraru.

In a statement released yesterday, Education Queensland confirmed 'an incident took place on August 21 and a student required medical attention'. "A student was disciplined in line with the school's Responsible Behaviour Plan," it read. The department said it would investigate any reports of schools not following policy. [So that's policy?? Expose innocent kids to brutal violence and do nothing significant to prevent a recurrence??]


Australia: Teachers are powerless to stop schoolyard violence

Not exactly surprising in the light of the severe limits placed on discipline by a Leftist government

The bashing death at school of a 15 year old boy in Mullumbimby last week is a symptom of a much bigger statewide problem in schools. Teachers are too scared to step in before things get totally out of hand. Put simply teachers now have little control. The consequences for students of bad, even violent behaviour, are now so insignificant students simply don’t care.

A teacher cannot restrain a student at all, they can’t yell at students or else they will be accused of emotional abuse. A teacher must simply say “please don’t do this” and then hope they are obeyed. Step outside this rigid set of rules and you risk being “EPACed” - every teacher’s worst nightmare. To be “EPACed” is to be investigated by the Education Department’s Employee Performance and Conduct Unit, a Gestapo-like division.

Students know this and play on it and why wouldn’t you if you were a child and knew what you could get away with. Eventually the ultimate punishment for persistent disobedience (after the student refuses to come to detention and throws the detention slip at the teacher) is suspension from school.

This means they are rewarded a holiday for their actions. If there are too many suspensions at a school the department then asks the school Principal to explain why so many students are being suspended and to come up with strategies to reduce the high suspension rate at the school.

Any teacher who physically intervenes in a physical fight in the play ground risks being reported by a student for physical assault and marched off to EPAC, where the onus is on them to prove their innocence.

EPAC acts as policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury and then executioner. EPAC do not make final decisions using the words Guilty or Innocent. Unless a student actually admits they were lying when they complained about their teacher, then the most a teacher can expect if they are innocent is if EPAC finds “there is insignificant evidence to prove the conduct occurred” the teacher then has this black mark on their record for life.

Some examples of a teacher being EPACed include a primary school teacher and friend of mine in Sydney’s North Shore who broke up a fight by physically restraining a student who was bashing another student.

That teacher was then EPACed and although it was found that the teacher trying to exercise their duty of care, the record of this incident is in their teacher job file held in Oxford Street (where EPAC keep all files) for the rest of their teaching career.

Another incident involves a teacher at a high school who whilst taking students on an excursion to an Art gallery was asked about a particular painting which was on public display which may have been interpreted as having sexual themes. The teacher told the students they did not want to discuss this painting and to move on.

Two female students then complained and the teacher was EPACed for allegedly showing students sexually explicit artwork. Even though EPAC decided that “there is insignificant evidence to prove the conduct occurred” the teacher now has that case in their EPAC file for the rest of their career.

Whilst a teacher is being EPACed they are told by the Principal not to discuss the investigation with anyone at the school. This makes them feel anxious and even more upset and attempts to punish them psychologically even though nothing has been proven against them.

After two accusations where there is “insignificant evidence” the teachers name is reported to the Commission for Children and Young People, (CCYP) essentially they are labeled a child abuser on the hearsay of often vindictive students who know they have the power now.

As a result of all this is it any wonder that what started as a fight in the playground at Mullumbimby lead to a bashing death of a student?. Students have the power and teachers know they can’t intervene physically anymore. The DET student discipline policy and it EPAC procedures are to blame and the situation statewide is only going to get worse as students relish in their new found power at school.


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