Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Armed police turn up at family home with a battering ram to seize their children after they defy Germany's ban on home schooling

Nazism is not dead in Germany

Armed police in Germany launched a terrifying raid on a family's home to seize their four children after they defied the country's ban on home schooling.

A team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they refused to send their children to state schools.

The youngsters were taken to unknown locations after officials allegedly ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing them again 'any time soon'.

The only legal grounds for the removal of the children, aged from seven to 14, were the family's insistence on home schooling their children, with no other allegations of abuse or neglect.

According to court documents obtained and translated by the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), officials did not even allege that the parents had failed to provide an adequate education.

The raid took place on Thursday morning at 8am at the Wunderlichs' home near Darmstadt, 25 miles south of Frankfurt, in south-west Germany.

Citing the parents’ failure to cooperate 'with the authorities to send the children to school', the judge even authorised the use of force 'against the children' if necessary, according to court documents cited by the HSLDA.

Describing the moment police arrived at his home, Mr Wunderlich said: 'I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed.  'They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me.

'I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it.'

He went on: 'The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first.  'It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist.

'You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie.  'Our neighbours and children have been traumatised by this invasion.'

The Wunderlichs have, over the past four years, moved from country to country in the European Union looking for a place to where they could freely homeschool their children.

Although they found refuge from homeschool persecution in France, Mr Wunderlich was unable to find work, and last year the family had to return to Germany.

Within days of the family registering their presence in Darmstadt, authorities initiated a criminal truancy case, and just months later city's 'Youth Welfare Office' was granted legal custody of the children.

They were allowed to remain with their parents after it was judged that they were being well treated, but authorities seized the youngsters' passports to stop them again leaving the country.

Mr Wunderlich said that he and his wife had been left devastated by the authorities' decision to take their children. He said that his 14-year-old daughter Machsejah had to be forcibly taken out of the home.

'When I went outside, our neighbour was crying as she watched. I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen,' he said.

'They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said — "It’s too late for that".  'What kind of government acts like this?'

Mrs Wunderlich said her heart was 'shattered'. 'We are empty. We need help. We are fighting, but we need help,' she said.

Mike Donnelly, HSLDA's director for international affairs, accused German authorities of acting in a way reminiscent of a 'darker time' in the country's history.  'My question to the political leadership of Germany is: How long will you permit these kinds of brutal acts to be perpetrated against German families?' he said.

'Why is it so important to you to force people into your state schools? The echo of this act rings from a darker time in German history.

'When will leaders stand up and make changes so that brutality to children like the Wunderlichs no longer happens because of homeschooling?  'Isn’t there any German statesman willing to stand up for what is right anywhere in Germany?'

No German officials were available to comment on the case.


British teenagers 'to shun university in favour of apprenticeships'

Up to 35 school leavers are competing for every job amid claims that rising numbers of bright teenagers are shunning university in favour of the workplace.

New figures show that the average apprenticeship post now receives 11 applications each following a surge in demand for on-the-job training.

In some industry sectors, such as plumbing and events management, the number rises well above 30.

Many leading companies are now said to be competing directly with universities to recruit the most able young people.

Experts suggested that apprenticeships – paid work placements with tailored training – were increasingly attractive in light of the competition for places at the very top universities combined with a near tripling in the cost of a degree.

It follows the introduction of annual tuition fees of up to £9,000-a-year for students entering higher education for the first time last year – often leading to debts of more than £40,000 when living expenses are added.

Matthew Hancock, the Skills Minister, said he expected it to “become the norm that young people either go to university or into an apprenticeship”.

Last night, student leaders warned that poor quality careers advice coupled with low pay was acting as a “barrier” to entry to apprenticeships for many school leavers.

But Jaine Bolton, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “These figures show that the demand for apprenticeships keeps growing. It is the first choice for many talented young people and more employers wanting young talent need to wake up to this fact.”

Data released today by the National Apprenticeship Service – the Government quango tasked with driving the expansion of the programme – revealed that more than 1.4m applications had been made for vacancies in the last 12 months through an online portal. It was up by 32 per cent in a year.

Online applications account for around eight-in-10 of the total number made.

Each vacancy now attracts an average of 11 applications, it was revealed, but numbers soar even higher for jobs in some sectors.

Some 35 young people applied for each apprenticeship in the live events and promotions sector, compared with 33 for plumbing and heating jobs and 28 for those in the marine industry.

Some 24,720 young people applied for 1,322 roles in media and publishing – 18 for each one – while the applications rate was as high as 13-to-one for jobs in the fields of engineering and IT.

Separate research by the Telegraph earlier this month found that demand for school leaver jobs – those typically demanding qualifications no higher than A-levels – with Britain’s biggest companies had soared in recent years.

The National Grid revealed it had received 16,500 applications for just 150 places on its school leaver training programme – equivalent to 110 people for each place.

Marks & Spencer revealed it had received 3,000 applications for just 30 jobs – leaving 100 teenagers to compete for every post.

Employers can get a grant to run apprenticeship training programmes for 16- to 24-year-olds.

Last night, the National Union of Students insisted that a three-year degree was now no longer “the norm” for teenagers, but suggested that a combination of low pay and poor advice was preventing many school leavers considering an apprenticeship.

According to an NUS survey, more than half of university students had never been presented with apprenticeship opportunities at school or college.

The apprenticeship minimum wage – set at £2.65 an hour, which is well under half the national minimum pay for those aged over 21 – was also a deterrent, the NUS claimed.

Toni Pearce, the union's president, said: “Education has changed, and the old route that ends with a three year full time undergraduate degree no longer needs to be norm. But the lack of proper careers advice about the available study options and pathways to work is failing young people.”


Pupil hit by a piece of apple costs British school £600 as taxpayers face £10million compensation bill for injuries in schools

More than £10million has been spent settling compensation claims in schools, including £600 after a child was hit by a piece of apple.

The legal action was one of thousands taken out by pupils and staff against their schools in England and Wales in the last three years.

Somerset County Council has so far racked up £575 in legal fees fighting the case after the pupil who was hit by the apple in March 2010 sued.

Other payments included one student who was handed £7,800 after falling off their own skateboard, £8,000 to a member of staff who was hit with a ball, and £55,000 for a primary school child who bumped his head.

In one Middlesex primary school a pupil received £50 after falling out of a tree.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show schools are even paying out pupils who become embroiled in playground fights.

In Pembrokeshire one student was handed £1,925 following a fight, while at Central Foundation Girls' school in Bow, London, another was paid £43.

Despite the huge sums of money spent on the cases most were found to be baseless when investigated.

And now critics have slammed the 'ridiculous' compensation culture in schools, saying it harms children's education because teachers are wrapping kids up in cotton wool to avoid payouts.

Chairman of Campaign for Real Education Chris McGovern said: 'There is a compensation culture in schools.  'While there is negligence, and schools need to ensure children are in a safe environment, they should be able to exercise a degree of common sense.

'The courts should protect schools from spurious claims, because too often the claims are against events which are a normal part of the rough and tumble of everyday life.

'The problem is that schools are now spending a lot of time worried that they might be sued and so they're wrapping children in cotton wool.

'The real price is not just financial. The real price is that these children are losing what we would consider to be a "normal" childhood because it's a risk-averse childhood wrapped in cotton wool so children don't take any risks.

'That's no preparation for adult life. Schools are obsessed by the need to ensure that there are no claims and therefore children are missing out on the adventure and magic and childhood.'

Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance Matthew Sinclair, said: 'Our worrying schoolyard compensation culture is not only a burden on taxpayers but is also undermining children's time in the classroom.

'Some of these incidents range from the sublime to the ridiculous, with many either nobody's fault or easily avoidable.  'Every penny spent on payouts for a bump or thrown apple means less cash for textbooks and sports equipment.'

A Department for Education spokesperson said: 'Compensation payments are agreed on a case by case basis and the department has no role in the process.'

Topping the list of local authorities that have had to fork out the most cash was Sheffield City Council, which racked up a bill of  £1,148,186 settling claims. 

A director at Lancashire County Council, which had the second-largest total at £794,815.18, said accidents were inevitable.  Bob Stott, who is responsible for schools, said: 'We would prefer it that no one was ever hurt in an accident while at school.  'But in a county with nearly 10,000 teachers and well over 160,000 school-age children it is inevitable that there will be some incidents resulting in injuries, thankfully mostly minor.

'When the county council receives a claim for compensation it has to make a decision regarding its liability, and defend or settle the case as appropriate.  'This may lead to a compensation payment being made.'

A spokesman for Essex County Council, which had the third-highest total at £785,485.31, said: 'Essex County Council takes its health, safety and wellbeing responsibilities seriously and is committed to complying with its legal, moral and financial obligations.

'When a claim is made it is investigated thoroughly and payment made if the claim is successful.  'It is also worth noting that Essex County Council is one of the largest local authorities in the country with a greater number of schools within its boundaries so the numbers will be naturally higher.'


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