No Ball Games

This is a major annoyance of mine. remove the signs that say no ball games from public areas such as parks and other grassy areas. The same people that whinged about almost getting hit by a football etc are the same people that moan about the "youth of today."

I have long been aware that kids these days have nothing to do of an evening. Certainly nothing that is cheap or free.

If you don't want kids standing on street corners drinking then give them access to other things. Blocking off all areas from free sports such as football is stupid. To those that cry "whewn I was young we went bowling or to the cinema" should actually find out how much it costs these days to go to either of these. 1 film that lasts 90minutes (evening matines no longer exist) costs about £5 on average, that's £35 pounds a week, not the old 2 shilling. Bowling is even more expensive, a 10-20minute game costs £5. The simple truth is that comparatively it is far more expensive than it ever was. Alcohol is the cheapest form of entertainment for youth as it stands and those that moan have no-one to blame but themselves.

If you traverse an area where kids are playing football and you get hit by a ball think yourself lucky its not a bottle or firework rather than claiming assault by feral youths. let the kids of today enjoy the very freedoms you enjoyed rather than being total hypocrites.

Why is this idea important?

This is a major annoyance of mine. remove the signs that say no ball games from public areas such as parks and other grassy areas. The same people that whinged about almost getting hit by a football etc are the same people that moan about the "youth of today."

I have long been aware that kids these days have nothing to do of an evening. Certainly nothing that is cheap or free.

If you don't want kids standing on street corners drinking then give them access to other things. Blocking off all areas from free sports such as football is stupid. To those that cry "whewn I was young we went bowling or to the cinema" should actually find out how much it costs these days to go to either of these. 1 film that lasts 90minutes (evening matines no longer exist) costs about £5 on average, that's £35 pounds a week, not the old 2 shilling. Bowling is even more expensive, a 10-20minute game costs £5. The simple truth is that comparatively it is far more expensive than it ever was. Alcohol is the cheapest form of entertainment for youth as it stands and those that moan have no-one to blame but themselves.

If you traverse an area where kids are playing football and you get hit by a ball think yourself lucky its not a bottle or firework rather than claiming assault by feral youths. let the kids of today enjoy the very freedoms you enjoyed rather than being total hypocrites.

Remove Security Protection for ex Prime Ministers

Stop funding protection for Tony Blair and other ex Prime Ministers to save wasting our taxes.

 eg Blair is no longer part of the Britsh Government, has 2 full time security staff who travel with him first class all over the world, staying at First Class hotels. He doesn't need our funding, can afford his own, given his Pension, and the fees he gets for speaking.

The same apply for Margaret Thatcher et al.

Not sure what the law is for this, feel sure it was voted on by the British Parliament, and so can be recinded.

Why is this idea important?

Stop funding protection for Tony Blair and other ex Prime Ministers to save wasting our taxes.

 eg Blair is no longer part of the Britsh Government, has 2 full time security staff who travel with him first class all over the world, staying at First Class hotels. He doesn't need our funding, can afford his own, given his Pension, and the fees he gets for speaking.

The same apply for Margaret Thatcher et al.

Not sure what the law is for this, feel sure it was voted on by the British Parliament, and so can be recinded.

Change tax to stop carriers importing worlds solo kids.

Airlines and other carriers should carry the cost through taxation when they allow children to travel unnacompanied without suitable care being prearranged for their arrival in Britain.

Children are systematically sent to britain unnacompanied in the knowledge that they will be supported by the British taxpayer when they arrive in Britain.

Why is this idea important?

Airlines and other carriers should carry the cost through taxation when they allow children to travel unnacompanied without suitable care being prearranged for their arrival in Britain.

Children are systematically sent to britain unnacompanied in the knowledge that they will be supported by the British taxpayer when they arrive in Britain.

Unify and Celebrate the Age of Majority

Tradionally there used to be a definite transition from childhood to adulthood. The old "I've got the key to the door" at 21. Most societies have marked such a transition.

These days we have different age limits for different rights and the transition has become, to my mind, blurred; the rites of passage abandoned.

I believe that we should consider bringing these separate age lines together. The age at which you can drive, smoke, join the armed forces, consent to sex, vote and so on. Perhaps at 17 or 18. We should encourage a formal rite of passage to be held to mark the transition from child to adult, solumnised by a Church for those so inclined, by secular organisations to those that prefer that.

Why is this idea important?

Tradionally there used to be a definite transition from childhood to adulthood. The old "I've got the key to the door" at 21. Most societies have marked such a transition.

These days we have different age limits for different rights and the transition has become, to my mind, blurred; the rites of passage abandoned.

I believe that we should consider bringing these separate age lines together. The age at which you can drive, smoke, join the armed forces, consent to sex, vote and so on. Perhaps at 17 or 18. We should encourage a formal rite of passage to be held to mark the transition from child to adult, solumnised by a Church for those so inclined, by secular organisations to those that prefer that.

replica fire arms

get rid of stupid law which means replica must have various parts painted bright orange green red etc so that the public know they are not real. dah! if you wanted to use them for illegal reasons you would spray over this stupid paint with gun metal paint. so whats the point of the exercise. nanny state yet again.  there are plenty of REAL fire arms for sale in our inner cities so why punish collectors and retailers it is legal to buy a REAL decommisioned fire arm so how would public know that this wasnt working if it was waved in their face? 

Why is this idea important?

get rid of stupid law which means replica must have various parts painted bright orange green red etc so that the public know they are not real. dah! if you wanted to use them for illegal reasons you would spray over this stupid paint with gun metal paint. so whats the point of the exercise. nanny state yet again.  there are plenty of REAL fire arms for sale in our inner cities so why punish collectors and retailers it is legal to buy a REAL decommisioned fire arm so how would public know that this wasnt working if it was waved in their face? 

Independent Review of Determinations (adoption & fostering) Regulations 2009

Dear Sir/Madam

Given the poor economic climate for Local authorities coupled with the vested interest in the Independent Review Mechanism run by BAAF to encourage foster carers to seek independent determination in regards to their fostering status, it is my professional view that this independent mechanism introduced in april 2009 should be either scraped or fundamentally overhauled.

It will cost local authorities £2227 for each case to be heard and inevitably more and more foster carers will seek this paticular avenue when they have a dispute about their fostering registration with their approving agency. This chosen opportunity is determined primarily by 2 factors, one being the local authority foots the costs and secondly the IRM are on the whole not upholding Agency Decision Makers professional views particularly in relation to deregistering foster carers. BAAF clearly have a vested interest in not siding with local authority decisions, as a consequence of this foster carers would chose not to use them and therefore BAAFs funding would be significantly affected in this area.

If a local authortiy has to attend 13 IRM panels In a year which is clearly possible for some larger local authorites this overall cost could have alternatively paid the salary of an experienced social worker for a year. The £2227 is only part of the cost for local authorities as they have to send 2 members of staff representing the agency on the day of the panel which is unlikely to be a local  venue for most local authorities. 

I do not feel the IRM panels remit is one of prioritising the welfare and safety of children as it is clear to me they have more interest in maintaining the status of the foster carer. Please request the statistics from the IRM now that it has been in existence for over 12 months you will probably be startled by the the percentage of their decisions which are contrary to the local authority who have assessed, supported, and monitored  foster carers for some considerable time and therefore are in a positon to justify why some carers need to be deregistered.

Please inform me how in todays social care environment you can deregister a foster carer, I came into the social work profession to protect children from dangerous birth families and sadly from a minority of foster carers too. However this aforementioned regulation has made it difficult to eradicate carers who are likely to provide an unsuitable environment for disadvataged children to reside in.

I am a concerned experienced social worker who is seriously considering a change in my employment as this is just a further example of decisions being taken out of the hands of social workers and has some similarity with the introduction of the Public Law Outline (taking decisions away from social care professionals, please note that like all professions the majority of its workforce are competent and the child care profession is no different.

As most politicians are concerned about local authority spending please justify how this resource should remain an option when far more significant services are having to be cut back and/or shelved.  

I appreciate the opportunity to voice my concerns and frustrations on a subject I am quite passionate about.

   

Why is this idea important?

Dear Sir/Madam

Given the poor economic climate for Local authorities coupled with the vested interest in the Independent Review Mechanism run by BAAF to encourage foster carers to seek independent determination in regards to their fostering status, it is my professional view that this independent mechanism introduced in april 2009 should be either scraped or fundamentally overhauled.

It will cost local authorities £2227 for each case to be heard and inevitably more and more foster carers will seek this paticular avenue when they have a dispute about their fostering registration with their approving agency. This chosen opportunity is determined primarily by 2 factors, one being the local authority foots the costs and secondly the IRM are on the whole not upholding Agency Decision Makers professional views particularly in relation to deregistering foster carers. BAAF clearly have a vested interest in not siding with local authority decisions, as a consequence of this foster carers would chose not to use them and therefore BAAFs funding would be significantly affected in this area.

If a local authortiy has to attend 13 IRM panels In a year which is clearly possible for some larger local authorites this overall cost could have alternatively paid the salary of an experienced social worker for a year. The £2227 is only part of the cost for local authorities as they have to send 2 members of staff representing the agency on the day of the panel which is unlikely to be a local  venue for most local authorities. 

I do not feel the IRM panels remit is one of prioritising the welfare and safety of children as it is clear to me they have more interest in maintaining the status of the foster carer. Please request the statistics from the IRM now that it has been in existence for over 12 months you will probably be startled by the the percentage of their decisions which are contrary to the local authority who have assessed, supported, and monitored  foster carers for some considerable time and therefore are in a positon to justify why some carers need to be deregistered.

Please inform me how in todays social care environment you can deregister a foster carer, I came into the social work profession to protect children from dangerous birth families and sadly from a minority of foster carers too. However this aforementioned regulation has made it difficult to eradicate carers who are likely to provide an unsuitable environment for disadvataged children to reside in.

I am a concerned experienced social worker who is seriously considering a change in my employment as this is just a further example of decisions being taken out of the hands of social workers and has some similarity with the introduction of the Public Law Outline (taking decisions away from social care professionals, please note that like all professions the majority of its workforce are competent and the child care profession is no different.

As most politicians are concerned about local authority spending please justify how this resource should remain an option when far more significant services are having to be cut back and/or shelved.  

I appreciate the opportunity to voice my concerns and frustrations on a subject I am quite passionate about.

   

Not allowing homophobia in faith schools

It was recently decreed that faith schools are allowed to teach about homosexuality, but then say that in their view it's wrong. I think this is in fact wrong and should be stopped

Why is this idea important?

It was recently decreed that faith schools are allowed to teach about homosexuality, but then say that in their view it's wrong. I think this is in fact wrong and should be stopped

CSA Powers

I feel that the system needs reforming. It does not take account of my financial commitments, (how much it costs me to go to work, petrol, car parking charges) my maintanance payments are seen as more important than my other children or paying my mortgage. The CSA has no proof that the parent with care spends that money on the child, The CSA could issue vouchers to pay for the child food, clothes, swimming lessons etc., on my behalf.

 

 When I was in arrears I asked to pay in installments, I had to pay 70% of my weekly income, I feel that this was grossly unfair especially as when the parent with care owed me money she only had her money reduced by £4 a week, and I had to adjust my standing order.

 

I also feel that it is unfair that if I earn more than my partner, but we are still entittled to working tax credit that the total household income is taken into account when working out my payments. This means that the parent with care potentially is getting full tax credit entittlement and  maintanance, and the other family is significantly financially worse off.

 

I feel that the payments should be based on the parent without cares annual income only divided by 52 and that it should be reviewed annually.  I also feel that an allowance should be made for the costs incurred by getting to work. I also feel that the CSA should ensure that the amount to be paid is spent on the child directly, and that the child be made aware that the parent without care is responsibly contributing to thier upbringing.

Why is this idea important?

I feel that the system needs reforming. It does not take account of my financial commitments, (how much it costs me to go to work, petrol, car parking charges) my maintanance payments are seen as more important than my other children or paying my mortgage. The CSA has no proof that the parent with care spends that money on the child, The CSA could issue vouchers to pay for the child food, clothes, swimming lessons etc., on my behalf.

 

 When I was in arrears I asked to pay in installments, I had to pay 70% of my weekly income, I feel that this was grossly unfair especially as when the parent with care owed me money she only had her money reduced by £4 a week, and I had to adjust my standing order.

 

I also feel that it is unfair that if I earn more than my partner, but we are still entittled to working tax credit that the total household income is taken into account when working out my payments. This means that the parent with care potentially is getting full tax credit entittlement and  maintanance, and the other family is significantly financially worse off.

 

I feel that the payments should be based on the parent without cares annual income only divided by 52 and that it should be reviewed annually.  I also feel that an allowance should be made for the costs incurred by getting to work. I also feel that the CSA should ensure that the amount to be paid is spent on the child directly, and that the child be made aware that the parent without care is responsibly contributing to thier upbringing.

home educated children

home educated children are not necessarily known to the LA. Home educators are not regulated in the same way as a school. Home educators, on the whole, are good people who work hard to ensure their children receive a good education. However sometimes the home educator may not have the good of the child at the heart of why they are home educating. Sometimes they home educate so that abusive relationships can go undetected – in these circumstances children can suffer terribly – this cannot be allowed to continue.

My idea is that home educators should receive the same formula funding as all other school aged children in their local area. For that home educators come under the same scrutiny and accountability as all other education institutions.

Why is this idea important?

home educated children are not necessarily known to the LA. Home educators are not regulated in the same way as a school. Home educators, on the whole, are good people who work hard to ensure their children receive a good education. However sometimes the home educator may not have the good of the child at the heart of why they are home educating. Sometimes they home educate so that abusive relationships can go undetected – in these circumstances children can suffer terribly – this cannot be allowed to continue.

My idea is that home educators should receive the same formula funding as all other school aged children in their local area. For that home educators come under the same scrutiny and accountability as all other education institutions.

Child support Agency

I would like the law looked at and scrapped that allows the CSA not to take into account a parent with cares salary. My ex partner is an agency social worker and has an income of around £700 per week plus child benefit and tax credits which will prob push up to £800 per week (I think its tax credit but not 100% sure) The CSA will not take any of her salary into account in looking after our daughter. I dont mind at all contributing to my daughter but it should be 100% shared financially and not placed 100% on the absent parent.

 

Sorry I hope all the spelling are correct as it would not copy into a word doc.

Why is this idea important?

I would like the law looked at and scrapped that allows the CSA not to take into account a parent with cares salary. My ex partner is an agency social worker and has an income of around £700 per week plus child benefit and tax credits which will prob push up to £800 per week (I think its tax credit but not 100% sure) The CSA will not take any of her salary into account in looking after our daughter. I dont mind at all contributing to my daughter but it should be 100% shared financially and not placed 100% on the absent parent.

 

Sorry I hope all the spelling are correct as it would not copy into a word doc.

Consent and the 2003 Sexual Offences Act

 

 

The 2003 Sexual Offences act contains, alongside its important provisions against rape and sexual assault, several more worrying provisions that restrict consensual sexual activity.  Putting aside the obviously contentious question of what exactly the age of consent should be – (perhaps the best option is a flexible limit, set nominally at sixteen but allowing for the law to take seriously the views of the crime's purported victim, whatever their age might be, on a case by case basis) – there are a number of troubling inconsistencies in that concept's application, where the law chooses to ignore the free agency of a person that it elsewhere accepts.

   I have in mind three supposed offences that are dealt with in the act: abuse of position of trust, familial child sex offences, and sex with an adult relative. First, positions of trust. There can be no doubt that, where one person is in a position of trust over another, the relationship between the two is complicated immensely. The relationship between a sixteen year old girl and her teacher could never be the same as the relationship between that girl and a different man of the same age. Having said this, however, it is vital we remember that attempting to cut through these complications by the power of the law and of the state is a very dangerous idea.  We are talking about the fine nuances of emotion and of power in the interaction of two human beings.  The law is a bluntforce weapon of last resort, and should be kept as such.  There are already plentiful provisions in the act against sexual abuse – if abuse exists, those may be invoked, but if not, then it is the prerogative of individuals and citizens to determine their own lives and the courses of their relationships. 

     There is another possible reading of the 'breach of trust' offence, focusing not so much on any harm to the child under trust but rather on the adult's lack of responsibility towards the trust itself. Trust is breached when sexual activity occurs, and that in itself is enough to warrant legal repercussions.  But why should this be so? Anyone in a position of trust over a child has a duty of care towards them, as well as a duty to do well what ever it is they are supposed to be doing – teaching or medical practiciong or whatever.  How sexual activity is supposed to breach these duties is far from clear.  Consensual sex is consensual sex, and it is a breach of a human freedom to outlaw it, positions of trust or no. 

Much the same applies to familial child sex offences. Yes, it is a far from ordinary relationship for a child of consenting, and it poses its own difficulties. But it is best for people to deal with such difficulties either alone or with others, and without the interference of the law unless it is absolutely required.  The only other objection to these 'offences', if they are committed against children of consenting age – and the only objection whatsoever to the sex with adult relatives offence – is simply that such sexual activity is incest, and that incest is Very Wrong and Icky. This is not a reasonable excuse for the exercise of power over any member of a civilised community, against their will.

 

 

 

 

Why is this idea important?

 

 

The 2003 Sexual Offences act contains, alongside its important provisions against rape and sexual assault, several more worrying provisions that restrict consensual sexual activity.  Putting aside the obviously contentious question of what exactly the age of consent should be – (perhaps the best option is a flexible limit, set nominally at sixteen but allowing for the law to take seriously the views of the crime's purported victim, whatever their age might be, on a case by case basis) – there are a number of troubling inconsistencies in that concept's application, where the law chooses to ignore the free agency of a person that it elsewhere accepts.

   I have in mind three supposed offences that are dealt with in the act: abuse of position of trust, familial child sex offences, and sex with an adult relative. First, positions of trust. There can be no doubt that, where one person is in a position of trust over another, the relationship between the two is complicated immensely. The relationship between a sixteen year old girl and her teacher could never be the same as the relationship between that girl and a different man of the same age. Having said this, however, it is vital we remember that attempting to cut through these complications by the power of the law and of the state is a very dangerous idea.  We are talking about the fine nuances of emotion and of power in the interaction of two human beings.  The law is a bluntforce weapon of last resort, and should be kept as such.  There are already plentiful provisions in the act against sexual abuse – if abuse exists, those may be invoked, but if not, then it is the prerogative of individuals and citizens to determine their own lives and the courses of their relationships. 

     There is another possible reading of the 'breach of trust' offence, focusing not so much on any harm to the child under trust but rather on the adult's lack of responsibility towards the trust itself. Trust is breached when sexual activity occurs, and that in itself is enough to warrant legal repercussions.  But why should this be so? Anyone in a position of trust over a child has a duty of care towards them, as well as a duty to do well what ever it is they are supposed to be doing – teaching or medical practiciong or whatever.  How sexual activity is supposed to breach these duties is far from clear.  Consensual sex is consensual sex, and it is a breach of a human freedom to outlaw it, positions of trust or no. 

Much the same applies to familial child sex offences. Yes, it is a far from ordinary relationship for a child of consenting, and it poses its own difficulties. But it is best for people to deal with such difficulties either alone or with others, and without the interference of the law unless it is absolutely required.  The only other objection to these 'offences', if they are committed against children of consenting age – and the only objection whatsoever to the sex with adult relatives offence – is simply that such sexual activity is incest, and that incest is Very Wrong and Icky. This is not a reasonable excuse for the exercise of power over any member of a civilised community, against their will.

 

 

 

 

home-educational funding

Currently every child of educational age is allocated a fixed amount of money by the state, this money comes from taxpayers pockets.   If a child is home-educated none of this money is used by the child it is allocated to.  Instead the taxpaying parent has to fund this childs education at home as well as continuing to pay for schooling they don't receive.

My idea is that the allocated amount should be applied to the child who is being home-educated in the form of credits/vouchers that can be used for educational trips/visits, exams, courses and equipment e.g. correspondence courses/NEC/OU, sports access, musical services.  These credits/vouchers should be easily accessed by parents who registers their child as being home-educated, this should not  be compulsory.  Every home-educated child should also be entitled to have a computer at home, as are school children.

Why is this idea important?

Currently every child of educational age is allocated a fixed amount of money by the state, this money comes from taxpayers pockets.   If a child is home-educated none of this money is used by the child it is allocated to.  Instead the taxpaying parent has to fund this childs education at home as well as continuing to pay for schooling they don't receive.

My idea is that the allocated amount should be applied to the child who is being home-educated in the form of credits/vouchers that can be used for educational trips/visits, exams, courses and equipment e.g. correspondence courses/NEC/OU, sports access, musical services.  These credits/vouchers should be easily accessed by parents who registers their child as being home-educated, this should not  be compulsory.  Every home-educated child should also be entitled to have a computer at home, as are school children.

Remove the necessity for a SEN statement to access special schools

State funded special schools should not require a statement of special educational need as a prerequisite for entry.  Due to the potential financial implications of providing an SEN statement LEAs make it exceptionally difficult to obtain one.  SEN lawyers often boast a near 100% success rate at obtaining statements and specialist placement from LEAs but at a cost to the parents/carers of approx £18,000 if the case is not settled pre tribunal.  This prevents the vast majority of parents/carers from accessing support with their case for appropriate provision.  A parent/carer can go it alone but the legislation is cumbersome and the LEAs use legally trained personnel and have significant financial resources.

At present the special needs register has three levels of provision – school action, school action plus, statement.  With SA and SAP the money goes to the mainstream school and does not have to be used specifically for the child.  With a statement the money has to be used to provide appropriate provision for the specific child. 

Often without a statement special needs children, especially those with complex needs and verbal autistic children, do not receive appropriate support ending up in generic SEN support groups from the pooled funding.   These children's needs may be better met within schools providing more specialist provision but without a statement this option is not open to them and only if their behaviour becomes unmanageable does the school look again.  At the moment many parents feel that they have to wait for their child to fail completely (whether that is behaviourally or academically – the former gets faster results) before the efficacy of support is properly assessed.

I do not buy the notion any parent/carer would send their child to a special school on a whim, no one wants their child to need this but when children do parents/carers should not have to fight (often for years/ often unsuccessfully) to obtain such provision.  There are issues with special school provision (as with provision of speech and language therapy and occupational therapy) but that is another idea – LEAs pay millions to independent special schools (that incorporate therapy) rather than replicating the same provision in basic surroundings.  

Why is this idea important?

State funded special schools should not require a statement of special educational need as a prerequisite for entry.  Due to the potential financial implications of providing an SEN statement LEAs make it exceptionally difficult to obtain one.  SEN lawyers often boast a near 100% success rate at obtaining statements and specialist placement from LEAs but at a cost to the parents/carers of approx £18,000 if the case is not settled pre tribunal.  This prevents the vast majority of parents/carers from accessing support with their case for appropriate provision.  A parent/carer can go it alone but the legislation is cumbersome and the LEAs use legally trained personnel and have significant financial resources.

At present the special needs register has three levels of provision – school action, school action plus, statement.  With SA and SAP the money goes to the mainstream school and does not have to be used specifically for the child.  With a statement the money has to be used to provide appropriate provision for the specific child. 

Often without a statement special needs children, especially those with complex needs and verbal autistic children, do not receive appropriate support ending up in generic SEN support groups from the pooled funding.   These children's needs may be better met within schools providing more specialist provision but without a statement this option is not open to them and only if their behaviour becomes unmanageable does the school look again.  At the moment many parents feel that they have to wait for their child to fail completely (whether that is behaviourally or academically – the former gets faster results) before the efficacy of support is properly assessed.

I do not buy the notion any parent/carer would send their child to a special school on a whim, no one wants their child to need this but when children do parents/carers should not have to fight (often for years/ often unsuccessfully) to obtain such provision.  There are issues with special school provision (as with provision of speech and language therapy and occupational therapy) but that is another idea – LEAs pay millions to independent special schools (that incorporate therapy) rather than replicating the same provision in basic surroundings.  

Stop state funded schools selecting pupils on the basis of faith.

 

All schools funded in part or in whole by the state should have to accept the vast majority of their pupils on the basis of proximity to the school, or better still on a ‘Fair Bands’ system.   The current system allowing state funded ‘Voluntary Aided’ schools to select their pupils on the basis of faith should be abolished.

Up and down the country, if the best local school is Voluntary Aided, you’ll find aspirational parents making a show of attending the relevant church from the arrival of their firstborn in an effort to get their kids into this school.  In many areas this has created a polarization of pupils between schools; the church schools have the advantage of educating children of predominantly informed and proactive parents, those informed and proactive parents who fail to get their kids into the local church schools tend either to go private or to move to an area where they can afford a home within the catchment of a good non-selective state school (expensive, but cheaper than going independent), leaving neighbouring non-selective schools to struggle to provide a high standard of education without the advantage of having predominantly informed and proactive parents which the faith schools enjoy.  The local non-church schools therefore are attended by a disproportionate number of pupils who don’t come from families with such social capital, including those from ethnic minorities, refugees / new entrants to the UK, children for whom English is an additional language (EAL) and those with parents who aren’t informed enough about education to make an active choice about where their children are educated.  It is self evident that at a certain level of complexity, schools struggle to achieve the best in outcomes.  Even ‘outstanding’ teachers struggle to ensure that every child in their class fulfils their potential when they have to cater for an extremely complex set of needs.  We end up with one extreme of state school with vastly differing value sets, learning needs and aspirations or ‘complex urban schools’; and then the other extreme type of state school, the local Voluntary Aided church school, which brim with the advantages of social capital.   Neither type of school offers a child a social experience that is rounded or representative of our diverse country. 

Finland’s education system has no selection at all (not even independent schools exist); they have their share of poverty and other social problems and with a fully comprehensive school system they achieve outstanding results. Teaching children in accordance with their parents’ religious views in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights does not mean that children of parents with other beliefs should be discriminated against by being excluded from such education. 

The Coalition Government have promised they “will work with faith groups to enable more faith schools and facilitate inclusive admissions policies in as many of these schools as possible.”   They need to take this further and ensure that all schools with any element of state funding will have to select pupils predominantly on the basis of proximity to the school or on the basis of fair banding (which ensures that the school’s pupils are a representative mixture of the abilities of the population).  

If a school wants to select any of its pupils on the basis of faith, then it should be wholly independently funded and not take any kind of state subsidy.   Why should the state be funding schools that select children on this basis?  It would be more ‘Christian’ for a school to support and educate its direct neighbours.

Why is this idea important?

 

All schools funded in part or in whole by the state should have to accept the vast majority of their pupils on the basis of proximity to the school, or better still on a ‘Fair Bands’ system.   The current system allowing state funded ‘Voluntary Aided’ schools to select their pupils on the basis of faith should be abolished.

Up and down the country, if the best local school is Voluntary Aided, you’ll find aspirational parents making a show of attending the relevant church from the arrival of their firstborn in an effort to get their kids into this school.  In many areas this has created a polarization of pupils between schools; the church schools have the advantage of educating children of predominantly informed and proactive parents, those informed and proactive parents who fail to get their kids into the local church schools tend either to go private or to move to an area where they can afford a home within the catchment of a good non-selective state school (expensive, but cheaper than going independent), leaving neighbouring non-selective schools to struggle to provide a high standard of education without the advantage of having predominantly informed and proactive parents which the faith schools enjoy.  The local non-church schools therefore are attended by a disproportionate number of pupils who don’t come from families with such social capital, including those from ethnic minorities, refugees / new entrants to the UK, children for whom English is an additional language (EAL) and those with parents who aren’t informed enough about education to make an active choice about where their children are educated.  It is self evident that at a certain level of complexity, schools struggle to achieve the best in outcomes.  Even ‘outstanding’ teachers struggle to ensure that every child in their class fulfils their potential when they have to cater for an extremely complex set of needs.  We end up with one extreme of state school with vastly differing value sets, learning needs and aspirations or ‘complex urban schools’; and then the other extreme type of state school, the local Voluntary Aided church school, which brim with the advantages of social capital.   Neither type of school offers a child a social experience that is rounded or representative of our diverse country. 

Finland’s education system has no selection at all (not even independent schools exist); they have their share of poverty and other social problems and with a fully comprehensive school system they achieve outstanding results. Teaching children in accordance with their parents’ religious views in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights does not mean that children of parents with other beliefs should be discriminated against by being excluded from such education. 

The Coalition Government have promised they “will work with faith groups to enable more faith schools and facilitate inclusive admissions policies in as many of these schools as possible.”   They need to take this further and ensure that all schools with any element of state funding will have to select pupils predominantly on the basis of proximity to the school or on the basis of fair banding (which ensures that the school’s pupils are a representative mixture of the abilities of the population).  

If a school wants to select any of its pupils on the basis of faith, then it should be wholly independently funded and not take any kind of state subsidy.   Why should the state be funding schools that select children on this basis?  It would be more ‘Christian’ for a school to support and educate its direct neighbours.

Maximum CSA contributions

Issue 1.

Currently, the first child is entitled to 15% of the gross income of their absent parent up to a limit of 300 per week.

So if the absent parent is earning 108,000 per annum, the parent-with-care receives 16,200 per annum

If the absent parent is earning 300,000 per annum, the parent-with-care still receives only 16,200 per annum!

I propose to remove this limit.

Issue 2.

The absent parent should be legally obliged to be full and frank with the CSA about their financial circumstances. The CSA should make no changes to the parent-in-care's income until the parent-with-care has had an opportunity to challenge it.

I propose that the CSA has the same powers as a court to require the absent parent to complete a Form E.

Issue 3.

Where the absent parent has control over their own earnings the courts should have jurisdiction over the CSA to set their maintenance liability.

Why is this idea important?

Issue 1.

Currently, the first child is entitled to 15% of the gross income of their absent parent up to a limit of 300 per week.

So if the absent parent is earning 108,000 per annum, the parent-with-care receives 16,200 per annum

If the absent parent is earning 300,000 per annum, the parent-with-care still receives only 16,200 per annum!

I propose to remove this limit.

Issue 2.

The absent parent should be legally obliged to be full and frank with the CSA about their financial circumstances. The CSA should make no changes to the parent-in-care's income until the parent-with-care has had an opportunity to challenge it.

I propose that the CSA has the same powers as a court to require the absent parent to complete a Form E.

Issue 3.

Where the absent parent has control over their own earnings the courts should have jurisdiction over the CSA to set their maintenance liability.

Get rid of county control of help for disabled children

At the moment, County Councils are responsible for the education of disabled children.  This created tremendous distortion in the nature and availability of the care provided.   For example, there are no "PD" schools (i.e. schools specialising in the care and education of the physically disabled) in Surrey.  Surrey only provides education for the disabled in "SLD" schools (i.e. schools for those with special learning difficulties).  PD schools are far more able to help physically disabled pupils than SLD schools, as the latter are providing education to a far broader spectrum of special needs.  Typically, the overwhelming majority of pupils are able-bodied within the autistic spectrum, or with Downs Syndrome, rather than confined to wheelchairs.

This county border-defined demarcation means that children who live near PD schools cannot access them if they a separated by a county border.  This is riduculous and unnecessary, particularly if they live in a county which does not provide PD schools.  If the provision of specialist PD education was controlled centrally, so that county budgets were not the main drivers for the placement PD children (PD schools are much more expensive than SLD schools) the whole system would be much fairer. 

Those professionals who insist that SLD schools can provide the same quality of care as PD schools are simply not telling the truth.  The main driver for them is cost and if they educate PD pupils at SLD schools they will do it.  After all, they only have to fund them until the pupils reach 18, after which they become someone else's problem.  The fact that the lack of specialist PD care may have caused more expensive health-related issues in the interim does not matter to them.  That is a cost the NHS will have to pick up.  Not only is this wholly unjustifiable on the grounds of what is best for the pupil, it is a grotesque waste of money as corrective NHS care is hugely more expensive than in situ preventative care.  A false economy if ever there was one.

Why is this idea important?

At the moment, County Councils are responsible for the education of disabled children.  This created tremendous distortion in the nature and availability of the care provided.   For example, there are no "PD" schools (i.e. schools specialising in the care and education of the physically disabled) in Surrey.  Surrey only provides education for the disabled in "SLD" schools (i.e. schools for those with special learning difficulties).  PD schools are far more able to help physically disabled pupils than SLD schools, as the latter are providing education to a far broader spectrum of special needs.  Typically, the overwhelming majority of pupils are able-bodied within the autistic spectrum, or with Downs Syndrome, rather than confined to wheelchairs.

This county border-defined demarcation means that children who live near PD schools cannot access them if they a separated by a county border.  This is riduculous and unnecessary, particularly if they live in a county which does not provide PD schools.  If the provision of specialist PD education was controlled centrally, so that county budgets were not the main drivers for the placement PD children (PD schools are much more expensive than SLD schools) the whole system would be much fairer. 

Those professionals who insist that SLD schools can provide the same quality of care as PD schools are simply not telling the truth.  The main driver for them is cost and if they educate PD pupils at SLD schools they will do it.  After all, they only have to fund them until the pupils reach 18, after which they become someone else's problem.  The fact that the lack of specialist PD care may have caused more expensive health-related issues in the interim does not matter to them.  That is a cost the NHS will have to pick up.  Not only is this wholly unjustifiable on the grounds of what is best for the pupil, it is a grotesque waste of money as corrective NHS care is hugely more expensive than in situ preventative care.  A false economy if ever there was one.

That the Government restore freedom and liberty by removing the Enhanced CRB and retaining the original Police Check – now known as Standard CRB

As a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the murder of two school girls by Ian Huntley, at the time employed as a school caretaker, the Government introduced ‘Enhanced CRB’ checks. Where the Standard CRB’ records any previous convictions, the enhanced version allows the police to record, under ‘any other information’ any non-factual comments, suspicions, unfounded allegations and indeed anything the police feel they wish to record. The person for whom this Enhanced CRB is completed has little, if any, course of reproach about what information is recorded. Even where someone stands trial and is found not guilty by a jury, such allegations are still recorded on the Enhanced CRB. The Police are even allowed to send a separate letter to the prospective employer, containing details that the person for whom the CRB is completed has no knowledge of.

Enhanced CRB checks should end immediately and we should retain the standard CRB check only.

Why is this idea important?

As a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the murder of two school girls by Ian Huntley, at the time employed as a school caretaker, the Government introduced ‘Enhanced CRB’ checks. Where the Standard CRB’ records any previous convictions, the enhanced version allows the police to record, under ‘any other information’ any non-factual comments, suspicions, unfounded allegations and indeed anything the police feel they wish to record. The person for whom this Enhanced CRB is completed has little, if any, course of reproach about what information is recorded. Even where someone stands trial and is found not guilty by a jury, such allegations are still recorded on the Enhanced CRB. The Police are even allowed to send a separate letter to the prospective employer, containing details that the person for whom the CRB is completed has no knowledge of.

Enhanced CRB checks should end immediately and we should retain the standard CRB check only.

let milk be milk – repealing pasteurisation laws

To allow organic farmers to sell their milk unpasteurised once again – as far as I can tell, this is due to economic pressure by the FSA (food standards authority)

Why is this idea important?

To allow organic farmers to sell their milk unpasteurised once again – as far as I can tell, this is due to economic pressure by the FSA (food standards authority)

Children Schools and Families Act 2010

This act, which comes info force in July 2010, prevents victims of miscarriages of justice in Family courts from speaking or campaigning about their cases. It is draconian, potentially in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights. Large sections of it at least need to be repealed.

It was brought in under auspices of opening up family courts, in the wake of negative publicity about apparent miscarriages of justice in forced adoption cases.

In practice it does exactly the opposite – it gags witnesses and bars the press from reporting judgements in family cases. It makes the courts even more closed and secretive and leaves victims of judicial errors without a voice, without rights and without support.

Why is this idea important?

This act, which comes info force in July 2010, prevents victims of miscarriages of justice in Family courts from speaking or campaigning about their cases. It is draconian, potentially in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights. Large sections of it at least need to be repealed.

It was brought in under auspices of opening up family courts, in the wake of negative publicity about apparent miscarriages of justice in forced adoption cases.

In practice it does exactly the opposite – it gags witnesses and bars the press from reporting judgements in family cases. It makes the courts even more closed and secretive and leaves victims of judicial errors without a voice, without rights and without support.

Allow 1 parent to take 2 kids swimming. Allow under 18s to tahe kids swimming

Some local councils, sensibly, allow PARENTS to make the decision about whether or not they can safely manage 2 children in the pool. Parents judge this based on age of children (babies are easier!) depth of pool, obedience of children to parent rules – 'don't go out of your depth' – and swimming ability of child. However some pools decide this all for parents and have a blanket ban on more than 1 child under 5, or 6 or whatever going in with a parent. As a mother of twins this effectively meant that I could not take them swimming in 1 area – though luckily another pool nearby let me in.

Pools have lifeguards and any parent that is NOT looking after a child/children and placing them at risk can be asked to supervise more closely or leave. So why penalise the vast majority of sensible mums and dads by deciding for us what we can do.

Also our local pool says you have to be 18 to take kids swimming – which means 16/17 year old mothers can't take their own baby in. Some older sibling are perfectly sensible and parents should be allowed to decide – or at the very least the limit should be dropped to 16 which is an age where you can get married, have kids, and have a job. But not take someone swimming!

Why is this idea important?

Some local councils, sensibly, allow PARENTS to make the decision about whether or not they can safely manage 2 children in the pool. Parents judge this based on age of children (babies are easier!) depth of pool, obedience of children to parent rules – 'don't go out of your depth' – and swimming ability of child. However some pools decide this all for parents and have a blanket ban on more than 1 child under 5, or 6 or whatever going in with a parent. As a mother of twins this effectively meant that I could not take them swimming in 1 area – though luckily another pool nearby let me in.

Pools have lifeguards and any parent that is NOT looking after a child/children and placing them at risk can be asked to supervise more closely or leave. So why penalise the vast majority of sensible mums and dads by deciding for us what we can do.

Also our local pool says you have to be 18 to take kids swimming – which means 16/17 year old mothers can't take their own baby in. Some older sibling are perfectly sensible and parents should be allowed to decide – or at the very least the limit should be dropped to 16 which is an age where you can get married, have kids, and have a job. But not take someone swimming!

Change the Law that affect Charging for Educational Visits

Under the Education Act it is illegal for a school to make a charge to parents for an Educational Visit that falls wholly or mainly within the school day. The calculation of this is also complicated depending on comparison of lost school sessions to sessions on the visit, but with school and visit sessions being different i.e. a school session is about 3 hours but a visit session is taken as 12 hours!

Why is this idea important?

Under the Education Act it is illegal for a school to make a charge to parents for an Educational Visit that falls wholly or mainly within the school day. The calculation of this is also complicated depending on comparison of lost school sessions to sessions on the visit, but with school and visit sessions being different i.e. a school session is about 3 hours but a visit session is taken as 12 hours!