‘Separated from my siblings’

November 18, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen


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Rachel is the eldest of four children

“I got separated from my siblings… I was told I was moved away from them because I was overprotective with them,” 17-year-old Rachel told a committee of MPs on Tuesday.

She had come to Westminster to share her experiences of being in foster care, as part of the Education Committee’s inquiry into fostering.

The MPs heard youngsters in care wanted more support to keep in touch with siblings and former friends, as well as more information about the foster families with whom they are placed.

Rachel told MPs it was very important to keep siblings together and when she looked back on her situation, she wondered if it could have been dealt with differently.

“I was told I was moved away from them because I was overprotective with them, which in my eyes, as a sister, and you’re moving away from home, I feel like it’s an instinct straightaway to be protective, because you’re moving in with a stranger that you don’t know and you have to protect your siblings.

“But then I feel that instead of separating me from them, they could have done some work with me to say, ‘The foster carer can look after your siblings,’ or like tell me I don’t need to do everything for them and I don’t have to put a barrier up – they could have given me time to settle in so then they didn’t have to separate us.

“But they separated us and then I wasn’t allowed to see them for a long period of time because they said that I was giving my little sister a lot of bad memories and bad thoughts, and I was thinking, ‘Have you actually sat down to question her whether she’s crying because she misses me or whether she’s crying because of this or this?’”

Rachel told the MPs that while she now had contact with her siblings, it was only once a month.

“We have a bond, but it’s not as strong as I’d like it to be and that’s quite hurtful towards me, because to lose a bond with your own siblings is sad, because you’re by yourself in the world and your siblings are practically your best friends and now you’re losing them – you’ve lost your parents and then your siblings, and it’s like your whole world has crashed down really quite quickly.”

‘Bit of a rollercoaster’

Connor, 14, told the committee of MPs that when he had been moved from one placement to another, he had been given no background information about his new home and had found this very stressful.

“I didn’t get much info about about the carers I was going to be with, about what the household’s like – is it comfortable, is it warm? and stuff,” he said.

Asked if he had had any choice in the matter, he said no.

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Connor, 14, travelled to Westminster to tell his story

“I just got told the carer’s name, didn’t get told what they like doing, I didn’t get a booklet, a prepared booklet, from anyone.

“They said that it was ‘on emergency’; the carer that I was with said to me she didn’t get much info on me either – the only thing she got told by the local authority was ‘Can you have a 12-year-old boy on emergency?’

“They said it would be for a couple of weeks until they could find a suitable placement, but I was there for nearly a year with nothing to nudge me on that I was going to be there for a long time.

“So it was very stressful, very upsetting for me, but I’ve learnt to expand beyond that now and cope with it and cope with the stress – it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for me.”

Connor said things could be improved if local authorities gave both child and foster carer more information about each other.

“So that I can feel more comfortable in a home with someone that I don’t know, but have got info on, so I can know what they like doing, how they are, what they’re like and stuff,” he said, “that’s how I’d improve it.”

Rachel added that her second placement had been a little easier, because she had met the foster carer in advance.

“I got to go out with her, go to lunch with her, go shopping with her, meet the house, meet other people in the house, so I liked the way they did that with me because they were setting up a full-time placement with me, so they let me settle in with her before I moved straight in, which I feel they should do with most individuals or young people before they just send them off.

“On that first day when I moved in with the new foster carer, it was quite unnerving because you don’t know who they are, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what it’s going to like, you don’t know what they’re like or anything like that.”

‘We’ve made a difference’

Speaking to the BBC after the committee hearing, Connor and Rachel – who are both ambassadors for the charity Action for Children – said they felt sharing their stories with MPs at Westminster had made a real difference.

“I feel we’ve made a massive difference. I think we’ve put them on the back foot and made them realise foster care in England isn’t going as planned,” said Connor.

“This is the biggest experience of our lives, to put our points across to the people who can do something about it.”

Rachel said the whole experience was “amazing” and had inspired her to think about a career in politics.

“I want to become an MP now and get there in my own steps. I could go into that – I’ve set my goal high.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41904410

Fake news

November 18, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

fake news illustration

A year on from his election victory, President Trump’s frequently used phrase “fake news” is now common currency.

It was even named word of the year by the dictionary publisher Collins.

But being aware of fake news does not mean we can always spot it.

“Everything gets flattened out on social media,” says Dr Philip Seargeant, who lectures in applied linguistics at the Open University.

“There are jokes one minute, serious issues the next, and you are getting them from friends. So, it’s more emotional, more partisan.”

Dr Seargeant says universities are ideally placed to help students and the wider public decide what stories to believe.

Universities work hard to build students’ critical skills for academic work, but these skills have more relevance than “just checking your references or checking the authority of the information you have when you are writing an essay, exactly the same thing applies to how the news works”, he says.

In January, to coincide with the anniversary of Mr Trump’s inauguration, the OU will publish a series of YouTube videos, designed to help the general public make more informed decisions about news.

Data dangers

These ideas strike a chord with Dr Andrew Bell, of Sheffield University’s Methods Institute.

It got in first, with a free online course on how to spot misleading statistics in the media, launched this week on the Future Learn platform.

“Contested numbers are everywhere, and so everyone would benefit from knowing how to interpret them,” says Dr Bell.

“Statistics are often presented as the objective truth, meaning they have a particular power to make people believe a political point that is being made.

“When statistics are manipulated or misused, they can make fake news even more powerful.

“If we know what we are looking for, we can spot when a statistic is being misused, so it doesn’t unjustly affect our political or scientific views.”

So how do you spot fake news? Here are 10 tips from the experts.

1 – Check the source

First up, says Dr Seargeant, it’s absolutely crucial to check the source of the story and decide whether it’s reputable.

This can mean making sure you know exactly which website you are looking at. So, check the URL.

And be sceptical if the story comes from a news organisation you have never heard of, says Dr Bell.

2 – Is it just on one website?

Next, check whether it’s reported elsewhere or just by one website.

Google the claims in the story to check if they have been highlighted as fake or just don’t exist elsewhere.

Fact-checking sites such as Snopes or factcheck.org can help, not forgetting the BBC’s Reality Check site.

“If everything’s coming from the same source, that’s likely to be highly dubious,” says Dr Seargeant.

“But if you’ve got two or three media organisations reporting the story, that would be more convincing.”

3 – What’s the agenda?

“All media has a perspective, lots of that shades into a bias, but usually these specifically fake news sites have a particular agenda,” says Dr Seargeant.

Considering the motivations of the author can help you make up your mind. You should also consider who shared it to your timeline and why, he says.

4 – Go beyond the headline

Some fake news is produced for comic effect. So, read it properly and be sure it’s not a leg-pull.

Daft bylines, along the lines of April Fools stories, can give the game away.

5 – ‘You won’t find this on mainstream media’

Some people believe the “mainstream media is entirely biased”, Dr Seargeant says.

“So, anything that puts itself in opposition to that, that’s their way of finding some sort of authority.

“If mainstream media isn’t reporting it, the likelihood is that it’s out on a limb somewhere.”

6 – Data sources

Make sure you know whose figures are being reported.

“You can probably trust it if the number is taken from a national or international statistical office report, or a survey conducted by a renowned research company or a scientific institution,” says Dr Bell

“You should be more sceptical if you have never heard about the source or know that it has a particular agenda.”

7 -Dodgy surveys

Check the sample size. Surveys need to be big enough to be sure that the result didn’t just happen by chance. Usually, this should be at least 1,000 respondents, to allow for a margin of error of up to three percentage points, says Dr Bell

The smaller the sample, the more likelihood the result is a “random aberration”, he says.

8 – Big isn’t always better

A large sample does not always mean the result is correct.

If the people surveyed are not representative of the population we’re interested in, the results will not be accurate, says Dr Bell.

For example, in 1936 a poll of 2.4 million people for a magazine got the US general election result completely wrong.

This was because the survey was sent to magazine subscribers, who were generally wealthier than most Americans.

“Whilst polling companies do their best to correct this (and still often get it wrong), other newspaper or Twitter surveys might not,” says Dr Bell.

9 – Is it what it says on the tin?

Check the thing being measured is what the news article says it is.

For example, in 2015 a Sun headline claimed one in five British Muslims sympathised with jihadis.

But last year the Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled the headline was “significantly misleading” as it had been based on a poll that had not mentioned jihad at all.

10 – Check the context

“Just because a number looks dramatic, doesn’t mean it is,” says Dr Bell.

“For example, the Bank of England recently increased interest rates, for the first time in 10 years – but rates were only increased to what they had been until August of last year, where they’d stayed since March of 2009.

“That rate, of 0.5%, was the lowest in the bank’s history, dating back to the 17th Century.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41902914

Sexual harassment

November 18, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Woman rejects man's hugImage copyright
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It started with Harvey Weinstein, one of the biggest names in cinema, then went global with the #metoo Twitter hashtag before engulfing the UK’s members of Parliament.

The sex scandal spanning Hollywood, Parliament and beyond has exposed a possible gap in UK legislation – sexual harassment is not actually a criminal offence in its own right.

The Equality Act currently covers sexual harassment in the workplace – but outside work, prosecutors must use different pieces of legislation, depending on the nature of the offence.

Critics say this leaves us without a proper definition of the types of behaviour that amount to sexual harassment – or clear boundaries.

It also makes it near impossible to get an accurate picture of the scale of the problem.

So, is it time to make sexual harassment a specific criminal offence?

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Should Parliament decide where the bar on acceptable behaviour falls?

“Of course sexual harassment should be criminalised,” says Samantha Rennie, director of Rosa, a charity which supports initiatives for women and children.

Two-thirds of UK women have reportedly been sexually harassed so it’s important that we have the law behind women, she says.

But Conservative MP Maria Miller, who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, has her doubts.

“It’s a really difficult area. It’s not an easy area of law,” she says.

  • When does flirting become sexual harassment?

Society and Parliament would have to decide where the bar falls – what behaviours were acceptable and not acceptable, she explains.

Most parliamentarians and police would consider sexual harassment outside work “too big and too difficult an issue” to treat with the same zero-tolerance approach that we do, for example, race hate crimes, she says.

“That in itself is very telling – we have got a huge cultural problem here, and it needs to be tackled.”

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, is not convinced a “quick change in the law” would resolve low conviction rates around sexual harassment.

“People are rightly looking for a silver bullet,” she says – but she believes that a fundamental change in the balance of power in everything from work and caring, to representation and rights is what is needed.

Is sexual harassment of a woman a hate crime?

Media captionBBC reporter Sarah Teale was harassed by a passerby during her report on a conference about harassment

No – not in most places.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, hate crimes fall into five categories – disability, race, religion, transgender identity and sexual orientation.

However police forces can create their own categories, depending on local concerns and problems.

Nottinghamshire has done just that – recording harassment as a misogynistic incident – and other areas are starting to follow suit.

Ms Miller says if this was taken up by other forces, it would be a straightforward way to record incidents and get an idea of the scale of sexual harassment.

Samantha Rennie says hate crimes are prosecuted when race, sexuality and other prejudices are apparent, so gender should be no different.

When has a law change like this worked?

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Scottish government

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Posters in a hard-hitting campaign in Scotland earlier this year highlight the new “revenge porn” law

Revenge pornography is one example.

Until 2015, there was no specific law against the offence, which often involves an ex-partner uploading sexual images of someone to humiliate and embarrass them.

Instead, convictions were sought under existing copyright or harassment laws.

Within a year of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 coming into force, 206 people in England and Wales had been prosecuted for disclosing private sexual images.

Lead campaigner Maria Miller cited figures suggesting that before the law was changed only two prosecutions had been made.

In Scotland, cases are brought under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act 2016.

If not a new law, how does current legislation stand up?

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The Equality Act – which covers sexual harassment at work – needs more teeth, Ms Miller says

The Equality Act 2010 – which offers protection at work – sets out a clear framework and covers what is most people’s experience of sexual harassment, says Ms Miller.

It includes sexual jokes on email, hugging and staring in a sexually suggestive way.

However, she says the legislation leaves the victim to do “all the running”.

They have to highlight the Equality Act to their manager and, if that doesn’t help, take their case to a tribunal.

A claim must be brought within three months of the alleged act of harassment and a claim can be made simultaneously against the employer and the perpetrator.

Ms Miller believes the government should look at giving the Equality Act, which covers England, Wales and Scotland, more “teeth” by making elements statutory as with, for example, maternity rights.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can damage self-confidence and career prospects, she says: “It feels an important area to get right.”

Sian Hawkins, from Women’s Aid – a charity which supports abused women – says existing legislation needs to be regularly reviewed to make sure allegations are dealt with properly, victims get the right response and perpetrators are held accountable.

“The criminal justice system needs to send a clear message to everyone that sexual harassment is unacceptable and that this crime is taken seriously,” she adds.

  • Are you being sexually harassed at work?
  • Workers share sexual harassment stories

How many people have been prosecuted for sexual harassment?

We don’t know.

Perpetrators can currently be tried under a number of different pieces of legislation.

For example, a man sending a woman unwanted messages could be charged under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and fondling on public transport would come under the Sexual Offences Act.

Because it’s not necessarily recorded as a sexually-motivated offence, the Crown Prosecution Service is unable to get a true figure.

In the workplace, more than half of women said they had been sexually harassed, a TUC survey from last year found. However only a fifth of them told their employer.

The reasons they gave for keeping quiet were fears for their careers prospects and working relationships, concern they would not be believed and embarrassment.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41828881

Degrees of value

November 18, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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Hundreds of thousands of young people are in the process of applying to university, in time for a 2018 start. Their choices can make a huge difference to future earnings.

For most university graduates, having a degree pays.

Over the course of a lifetime, estimates suggest women can expect to earn about £250,000 more if they have a degree, while the figure is roughly £170,000 for men.

In England, higher tuition fees mean that, on average, students graduate with debts of more than £50,000 – much more than their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But repayments are only one of many factors which affect how much money graduates will have in their pockets in years to come.

The universities which attract the highest incomes

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are big differences in the earnings of graduates from different universities.

Five years after graduation, average annual earnings for students who were taught at the London School of Economics, Imperial College London and University of Oxford are more than £40,000.

Graduates of the 24 Russell Group universities earn an average of £33,500 after five years – about 40% more than those who studied at other universities.

At the other end of the scale, there are several institutions – many of them dance and drama colleges – where average earnings after five years are closer to £15,000.

Importantly, many of the differences here are not down to the universities themselves.

They have different average earnings partly because students aren’t all the same – they have different abilities and interests.

Entrants to Oxford, LSE and Russell Group universities start their degrees, on average, with better exam grades, for example.

Subject choice can make a big difference

The big decision about what to study at university can be very important for future earnings.

Five years after graduation, the income gap between students who studied the subjects that attract the highest and lowest salaries can be considerable.

Graduates of medicine and dentistry earn an average of £46,700, while those who studied economics take home £40,000.

These figures are about double the average wages of creative arts (£20,100), agriculture (£22,000) and mass communication (£22,300) graduates.

Crucially, these differences are smaller, but remain significant, even when students with similar A-level grades are compared.

As careers progress the gaps get bigger, with graduates of the high-earning subjects pulling even further away.

For example, students of law, economics and management subjects at the London School of Economics do extremely well, with 10% of male graduates earning more than £300,000 by the time they are in their early 30s.

Sexual inequality

A number of factors influence graduate earnings long before they get as far as choosing which course to study, or which university to attend.

In particular, the reality is that male graduates earn more than female graduates.

The gap can already be seen only one year after graduation, when men earn an average of £1,500 (8%) more than women per year.

After five years, the gap has increased to around £3,500, or 14%.

This is likely to continue to increase with age, but it should be noted that this gap is less than half that experienced by non-graduates.

Some – but by no means all – of this difference can be explained by differences in subject choices, with women more likely to choose courses with low earnings potential.

For example, creative arts, nursing, psychology and social science all have far more female than male students, while the opposite is true for architecture, computing and engineering.

However, a large part of this difference cannot be explained away by personal choice.

Rich vs poor

The social background of students also matters.

Those from better off households are much more likely to go to university.

They are also much more likely to go to more selective universities.

That is a large part of the reason why male graduates from households with incomes above £50,000 earn about 20% (£7,000) more than their university peers from lower income households, by the time they are in their early 30s.

Among women, there is a 16% (£4,000) gap between these households.

Remarkably though, even when comparing students who did the same subject at the same university, those from the richest households still earn around 10% more than their peers from less affluent backgrounds.

This suggests improving access to university alone is not enough to address issues of social mobility.

Never-ending debt

The increase in tuition fees to £9,250 per year in England has significantly increased the level of debt students graduate with – and the repayments many will make over their careers.

Most will in fact not pay back all of the cost of their tuition, with the taxpayer picking up the difference.

Recent changes have offered some respite to those who go on to have low earnings.

Graduates only ever have to pay 9% of their income above a given threshold, regardless of the size of their debts.

The threshold will rise from £21,000 to £25,000 in April 2018, putting more money in the pockets of significant numbers of graduates.

Over the course of their working lives, this could save graduates up to £15,700 in student loan repayments.

It also means that more than 40% of graduates are now expected to repay less than they would have had there been no changes to the student loan system since 2011.

And, for eight out of 10 graduates, it is likely that they will get to the end of their working lives having never paid off that loan.

About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from an expert working for an outside organisation.

Dr Jack Britton is a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which describes itself as an independent research institute which aims to inform public debate on economics.

More details about its work and its funding can be found here.

Charts produced by Becca Meier

Edited by Duncan Walker

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41693230

Primary school children get elderly pen pals from local care homes

November 18, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

For a generation of children used to tablets and emojis, hand written letters might seem like something consigned to the history books.

But teachers at one primary school think pupils are missing out by not putting pen to paper, the way their grandparents did.

The school in Kidderminster has teamed up with two local care homes to launch an inter-generational pen pal scheme.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42032000

Lawrence Okolie: Boxer talks being bullied at school, losing seven stone and building his confidence

November 17, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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Boxer Lawrence Okolie on being bullied at school for his weight

“I would stay in the changing rooms for five minutes after PE so I didn’t have to take my top off in front of everyone. I’m not afraid to admit that I cried a few times.”

As he towers over me at 6ft 5in, his shoulders as wide as a fridge, it’s hard to imagine cruiserweight boxing hopeful Lawrence Okolie was once clinically obese, bullied by classmates for his weight and subjected to ridicule because of his African surname.

He has since represented his country at Rio 2016 and won all six of his fights as a professional. The journey Lawrence has taken from his days at Stoke Newington School in Hackney is remarkable.

Lawrence’s last professional fight was on the same night and venue as world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

As part of anti-bullying week, the 24-year-old shares his story with pupils at his former school.

He describes in detail the contrast between how he felt pre-fight in the changing rooms in Cardiff, to the worry of getting dressed after exercise at school.

“When I was here, I was overweight. In sport I got picked last and never got into the football team,” he says.

“I looked in the mirror at home and felt fat. It wasn’t nice. There were times in the shower I would think that if I grab hold of the fat and rip it off, will it actually come off?

“It felt lonely at times. You can speak to teachers but they’re not the ones going through it. Some of the stuff that was said and done by the bullies, it did affect you when you went home.”

Find a sport you enjoy


Mistakes in benefits claims could cost up to £500m

November 17, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Media captionESA claimant Peter Cartwright: ‘People need this money to live’

Mistakes in paying out benefits claims could cost up to £500m to put right, the BBC has learned.

The errors identified by the Department for Work and Pensions affect the main sickness benefit, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

The BBC understands that assessors wrongly calculated the income of around 75,000 claimants.

Ministers say that they are aware of the problem and that repayments have begun to be made.

The department, which says it discovered the mistakes last December, is understood to have contacted about 1,000 people so far.

It says it is still trying to understand the scale of the problems with ESA, which is paid to about 2.5 million people, and will contact anyone affected.

Media captionMr Field said people had been ‘wrongly impoverished’ as a result of the errors

Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions select committee, said the problem was on a scale of “historic proportions”.

He said: “I’m still gobsmacked at the size and the nature and the extent and the coverage of people that have been wrongly impoverished by the department getting it wrong.”

The BBC understands that the errors affected people who applied for ESA between 2011/12 and 2014/15 – claimants after that date are understood to have had their benefit correctly assessed.

On top of money to be paid back, the Treasury will have to pay for the staffing and processing of repayments.

Analysis: Little has changed

This extraordinary error is the latest problem to beset a troubled benefit.

When Labour introduced ESA in 2008, they claimed the change would move a million people off sickness benefit and save the Treasury £7bn.

The coalition embraced the benefit with open arms, again hoping to save money by moving people off incapacity benefit and onto ESA faster than planned.

Little has changed. Back in 2006/07, 2.7 million people were receiving the main sickness benefit at a cost of £12bn. In this financial year, ministers estimate 2.4 million people will get ESA – at a cost of £15bn.

For claimants, the changes have meant undergoing health assessments to prove their illnesses, which some say has created stress and anxiety.

Mistakes began in 2011 when the government started moving benefits recipients onto ESA – which is paid to those with long-term health conditions that are not going to improve.

ESA was introduced by the Labour government in 2008 to replace incapacity benefit.

At the time of that migration, an independent expert working for the Department for Work and Pensions, Professor Malcolm Harrington, urged ministers not to proceed until he was certain the system was robust.

The department said it only became aware of the problem in December 2016 after the Office for National Statistics published fraud and error figures for the social security system.

Heating or food?

Peter Cartwright, who was one of those moved from incapacity benefit to ESA due to mental and physical health problems, said the errors were “disgusting”.

“People need this money to live,” said Mr Cartwright, who does not yet know if he was underpaid.

“It’s not as if you can go and get loads of luxuries when you’re on this benefit.”

The 54-year-old from County Durham said people on benefits often had to make the choice between food and heating, adding: “If people are getting underpaid that means they’re not getting through.”

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The DWP said it was “currently reviewing the historical benefit payments of claimants”

Many of those eligible for ESA may also need to apply for universal credit – a benefit for people with a health condition or disability which prevents them from working.

Universal credit is already experiencing its own problems – with reports of IT issues, overspending and administrative errors.

Successful applicants for ESA are paid the benefit either on the basis of having made enough National Insurance claims, or because they are on a low income.

In calculating how much income a claimant is entitled to, benefit assessors have to work through a variety of factors, such as what other benefits someone might be on, how much they earn from any work or whether there is any other income coming into the household.

In a statement, the Department for Work and Pensions, said it was aware of the issue and “currently reviewing the historical benefit payments of claimants”.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42012116

St Olave’s Grammar School row head resigns

November 17, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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St Olave’s school

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Head teacher Aydin Önaç has now resigned

The head of a grammar school at the centre of a row about pupils being forced to leave before their A-levels has resigned.

Aydin Önaç, headmaster of St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, south-east London, will leave his post at Christmas, a letter to parents said.

Mr Önaç was suspended by the school’s governing body last month.

Parents began legal action over the A-level exclusions but the school later backed down and let the pupils return.

St Olave’s is one of England’s top-performing grammar schools, with pupils selected on academic ability.

In September, a group of sixth-formers who did not get high enough grades at AS-level were told they would not be allowed to return to do their A-levels.

In the letter to parents, sent late on Friday afternoon, acting head Andrew Rees said the headmaster was departing for “personal reasons”.

“He leaves, with great sadness, a school which is now regarded as one of the nation’s most outstanding schools and one in which parents and pupils can have great pride and confidence.

“Mr Önaç would like to thank all those governors, staff, parents and students who have supported him over the last seven years and extends his very best wishes to them for the future.”

Parent Andrew Gebbett, who has two sons at the school, expressed relief at Mr Önaç’s decision to leave.

“The school can now move on,” he said.

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St Olave’s was at the centre of a controversy over pupils being removed from the school before A-levels

Debbie Hills, chair of the school’s parents’ association, who remained in post despite her son deciding to leave after being among those excluded, described the resignation as “a first step to it being put right”.

“It’s been a long fight.”

The parents’ association first sought Mr Önaç’s resignation at a meeting in September.

Another parent in a similar position said: “There will be a lot of people who will be breaking open bottles of champagne tonight.”

The parent, who asked not to be named, said it was appropriate that the school’s motto was “‘to right the wrong’ – and that’s what’s been done”.

Tony Wright-Jones, a parent and former governor of the school, said: “We want to know as parents and governors what exactly went on”.

This year’s A-level results at St Olave’s saw 75% of all grades being awarded at A* or A and 96% were at A* to B grades, far above the national average.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42033702

Glitter banned by Dorset children’s nursery chain

November 17, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

glitter and paintImage copyright
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Glitter is “almost impossible to remove from the environment”, the company said

Glitter has been banned by a chain of children’s nurseries because of the “terrible damage” it does to the environment.

The art material is washed into the water system and can end up in the food chain, Tops Day Nurseries insisted.

It added glitter was a microplastic which was “almost impossible to remove from the environment”.

The Marine Conservation Society welcomed the nurseries’ “proactive approach” towards reducing pollution.

The nursery chain said it had only recently become aware of the “dangers” of glitter.

‘Kilos of glitter’

Managing director Cheryl Hadland said “You can see when the children are taking their bits of craft home and there’s glitter on the cardboard, it blows off and into the air.

“There are 22,000 nurseries in the country, so if we’re all getting through kilos and kilos of glitter, we’re doing terrible damage.”

Ms Hadland, who runs nurseries in Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Somerset and Wiltshire, said she “loved glitter” but was trying to source an alternative material from suppliers.

Sue Kinsey from the Marine Conservation Society said most microplastics in the sea came from other products.

She said: “While glitter is only a small part of the microplastic load getting into watercourses and the sea, steps like these will all add up to something greater.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-42023245

The worst bullies: ‘My friends called me Ugly Betty’

November 17, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Lonely figure

“Looking back, I think they were using me to make themselves feel better.”

Kiri Joliffe, now 19, suffered years of bullying at school from a group of girls she called friends.

“One minute they liked you, the next they didn’t.”

But when she complained, her teachers wouldn’t take her seriously.

It peaked when she was about 13, she says. But it never really let up for the whole time she was at school – and it centred on the way she looked.

“I had to have dental surgery which left my face very swollen, and then I had train tracks on my teeth.

“I also had big, dark bushy hair. I was a bit chubby and wore glasses.

“I used to get called Ugly Betty.

“Nothing about me was accepted. It was a very scary place.”

‘Manipulation and destruction’

With National Anti-Bullying week under way, newly-published research identifies friendship bullying as more harmful than physical, verbal or cyber-bullying.

The study, by University of Hertfordshire researchers and published by the Journal of School Health, describe it as a particular form of bullying which causes harm to the victim through “the systematic manipulation and destruction of their peer relationships and social status”.

Typically, the tactics of friendship bullies include “threatening to retract friendships, spreading rumours, purposefully ignoring and excluding the victim or using friendship as a bartering tool”.

Lead author Kayleigh Chester says responses from a representative group of more than 5,000 young teenagers from across England suggest about five young people in every secondary class will have been bullied by friends in the past couple of months.

This type of bullying had a greater association with poor health and wellbeing among victims than any other form of victimisation.

According to Kiri, one girl in the friendship group was particularly powerful.

“She was really pretty, almost like a celebrity in the school.

“She wouldn’t have to say a single word but if she stood up we would all follow her.”

‘It was torture’

It was this girl who dictated who was in favour and who was not, says Kiri.

More often than not, Kiri found herself out of favour – and even the teachers were sucked in.

There were untrue stories spread on Blackberry Messenger.

One rumour, that she had lice, resulted in a teacher insisting on checking her hair.

“It was torture,” says Kiri.

“The bullying was an everyday thing and although I did pluck up the courage to talk to some of the teachers at school, there was no support and I felt as though nothing I was reporting was taken seriously.

“I forever felt let down.”

Even in the sixth form “girls would give me the evils from across the room and boys would make sly comments”.

Too often, teachers, parents and students fail to recognise deliberate social exclusion as bullying, say the researchers.

“It can be really difficult to identify and it is difficult to distinguish from normal conflicts within peer groups, so parents and teachers can be less likely to intervene to help victims,” says lead researcher Ms Chester.

She wants bullying by friends to be acknowledged in school policies as a distinct form of the problem which warrants a specific prevention and reduction strategy.

“I think it really needs to be given as much attention as other forms of bullying, because acknowledging how harmful it is will help in intervening.

“It’s really obvious it’s a really damaging form of behaviour.”

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Image caption

Kiri now volunteers with the National Anti-Bullying Alliance

In the end Kiri solved her problem by quitting school and starting a BTEC at her local college.

There she became more self-reliant, made some real friends, decided on a career path and found a boyfriend.

She is now in the second year of a degree in criminology and law, volunteers with the National Anti-Bullying Alliance and wants to be a barrister.

But she says the victimisation she suffered at school has had a lasting effect.

“I still suffer with feeling alone and trapped.

“I constantly worry about my appearance too and I always wonder if anyone is talking about me.

“It’s very dangerous when a bully feels as though they have a lot of power, especially, as with my experience, adults empower the younger people in a negative way.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41998643