Tag Archives: guidance

Here’s why schools should stay closed and why anyone saying otherwise may have a political agenda

School: even in exam conditions, teachers will struggle to keep pupils two metres apart.

Perhaps you think it’s not a big deal.

Ever since Boris Johnson announced that he wants schools to reopen at the beginning of June, the idea has become a raging controversy.

He didn’t say that scientists support this notion – for a very good reason, it seems:

Let’s have a look at the article, from Schoolsweek:

The Department for Education’s chief scientific adviser admitted he has not assessed whether guidance on reopening schools is effective, adding the current advice is “draft” and “will be developed”.

Appearing in front of the Parliamentary science and technology committee today, Osama Rahman also admitted the DfE had done no modelling on the impact on transmission rates of starting to reopen schools after the May half term break.

During a hearing that left some MPs visibly bemused, Rahman also suggested the government guidance issued yesterday on safety is a “draft”, and will be reissued after further consultation with Public Health England.

He also said the decision to reopen schools was made by cabinet, not the DfE.

Asked about the transmission rate among children during the hearing, Rahman said the evidence is mixed, and there’s a “low degree of confidence in evidence they might transmit it less”.

SNP education spokesperson Carol Monaghan then asked for clarification. Was it true that “we’re putting together hundreds of potential vectors that can then go and transmit. Is that correct?”

Mr Rahman’s response – “Possibly, depending on school sizes” – may have contributed to Ms Monaghan’s conclusion that, as a former teacher, she “did not think the profession will be satisfied or put at ease with what they are hearing”.

Asked what scientific evidence base underpinned the decision to reopen schools to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6, and what modelling had been done, Mr Rahman said the Department for Education had not done any modelling at all.

He was unable to provide any proof that any scientific evidence had contributed to the decision to seek the reopening of schools at the beginning of June. He believed the Cabinet had made that decision, following advice from SAGE – albeit filtered through Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Rahman also admitted he had made no assessment on how effectively actions proposed by the government for schools to reopen safely can be implemented.

Perhaps it is unsurprising, given this background, that education unions united to declare that they would only support the reopening of schools “when it is safe to do so”:

The statement says:

“We all want schools to re-open, but that should only happen when it is safe to do so. The government is showing a lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and outwards from schools to parents, sibling and relatives, and to the wider community.

“Uniquely, it appears, school staff will not be protected by social distancing rules. 15 children in a class, combined with their very young age, means that classrooms of 4 and 5-year olds could become sources of Covid-19 transmission and spread.  While we know that children generally have mild symptoms, we do not know enough about whether they can transmit the disease to adults. We do not think that the government should be posing this level of risk to our society.

“We call on the government to step back from the 1st June and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out.”

The principles and tests include:

  • Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle
  • No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme
  • A national Covid-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools
  • Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families facing economic disadvantage
  • Additional resources for enhanced school cleaning, PPE and risk assessments
  • Local autonomy to close schools where testing indicates clusters of new covid-19 cases

Doesn’t that seem reasonable? Not to Gavin Williamson!

He said: “Sometimes scaremongering and making people fear is really unfair, and not a welcome pressure that is to be placed on families, children and teachers alike.”

Amazingly, he has had support from a Labour MP – Barry Sheerman:

Fortunately, this chap faced an instant backlash:

So it seems we are being asked to believe the unions are scaremongering, despite the evidence from Mr Rahman that shows they aren’t.

What do you think?

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Coronavirus: Intensive care guidance discriminates against disabled people

Not enough ventilators: it seems Boris Johnson really is using the fact that he deliberately chose not to stock up on these vital items of equipment as an excuse to ensure that disabled people die of coronavirus.


Yes – official guidance on medical care really does discriminate against people with disabilities.

This Writer has received criticism from commenters after a previous article. They claimed I was publishing nonsense.

Fortunately there’s plenty of evidence so let’s consider the guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Here’s Disability News Service:

The guidance … says that all adult COVID-19 patients should be assessed for “frailty” when admitted to hospital, and that “comorbidities and underlying health conditions” should be taken into account.

[It] has heightened fears among activists that many disabled people will be refused life-saving treatment if they are admitted to hospital.

The guideline said that decisions to admit patients for “critical care” should be based on how likely they were to recover.

There you have it – with a link to the actual guideline itself.

And there’s a comment from a campaigner to support the evidence:

\Disabled actor and activist Liz Carr … said on Twitter that the guideline suggested she and many other disabled people would be “pretty much denied [the] same access to ventilation/critical care support as non-disabled people based on the fact we require some assistance in our daily life, because we’re disabled”.

She said this was “terrifying and discriminating”.

Other groups representing disabled people have voiced similar sentiments.

So the concern is real and people are in danger – from a government that has a history of persecuting those with disabilities.

Source: Coronavirus: Anger over ‘terrifying and discriminating’ intensive care guidance – Disability News Service

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Coronavirus: Government ‘has abandoned’ disabled people and their carers

Once again the Tory government’s behaviour betrays its real attitude to people with disabilities.

People with disabilities who rely on carers who come to their homes are being forced to make a “hobson’s choice” between their health and their care – the loss of which would also harm their health.

The government can protest all it wants that it has given guidance for the social care sector on coping with coronavirus – but this does not cover individual disabled people who use their direct payments to employ their own carers.

There are also concerns over how disabled people employing their own PAs can secure supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, aprons and masks.

Disability News Service provides details of the NHS’s confused and contradictory response to one such person’s inquiries.

“She began showing flu-like symptoms this week and said she was originally advised by NHS 111 to “self-isolate”, after she described her symptoms over the phone.

“But when she explained that she relied on care workers visiting her twice daily, she was put on hold by the telephone adviser, before eventually being told that it was OK for her care workers to come in as usual, as long as appropriate hygiene measures were taken.

“She ignored this advice and is instead attempting to self-isolate without any support from care workers.

“She said the information she received could mean that other disabled people could be receiving care from a care worker who has come “directly from houses of people in self-isolation, on direct instructions from 111.”

It seems clear that the government does not have a clue about how to ensure these people get the support they need.

Worse still, This Writer is concerned that ministers may be sitting on solutions rather than putting into practice actions that might cost money.

It says everything about Tory priorities that £330 billion is splurged on policies to protect the economy from coronavirus – but the workers who fuel that economy, and people who are already suffering from long-term illnesses and disabilities, are left to choke on it.

Source: Coronavirus: Government ‘has abandoned’ disabled people on direct payments – Disability News Service

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Teen climate activist shames the world – but the Tories are trying to expand fracking across the UK

Frack site: The well in Lancashire contributes to global warming and climate change.

Climate change “negotiators” got a hard lesson in their own shortcomings – from a minor.

Greta Thunberg is only 15, but she packed more maturity into her three-minute speech than we’ve seen in decades of mealy-mouthed “negotiations” between representatives of national and international economic interests.

The Swedish activist shamed her elders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP24, where representatives eventually managed to reach a weak agreement over how to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But everybody there knew they weren’t doing nearly enough to achieve that goal, which is why Ms Thunberg’s words had such bite.

Here’s her speech:

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is,” she told an audience entirely composed of her elders (but clearly not her betters). “Even that burden you leave to us children.

“Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

“It is the sufferings of the many that pay for the luxuries of the few… We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.”

She also said: “You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.”

Now consider the current court case in the UK over plans by our Conservative government to expand fracking.

If ever there was an example of the many suffering to support the luxuries of the few – the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money – it is the fracking industry in the United Kingdom.

The current case highlights new planning guidance by the government which makes it easier to establish fracking sites. The document orders local authorities to facilitate the establishment of such sites, and proposes the removal of the need for new wells to get planning permission.

The government did not carry out any assessment of the impact its plans would have on the environment, and the guidance was imposed on the country without any public consultation.

It seems clear that James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, qualifies as one of the people Ms Thunberg describes as “not mature enough to tell it like it is.”

So do former prime minister David Cameron and his successor Theresa May. At a time when sustainable energy has never been cheaper or easier to supply, one is led to ask why they continue to kowtow to fossil fuel corporates like Cuadrilla bosses Roy Franklin and Francis Egan.

Fracking at Cuadrilla’s only UK site, in Lancashire, was halted again on December 11 after yet another earth tremor was caused by the process. This one measured 1.5 on the Richter scale, causing a woman who lives 1.6 miles from the site to say she heard a loud “bang” and her house shook. A Cuadrilla spokesperson said the effect would have been “like dropping a melon”.

We may conclude from this that the spokesperson is “not mature enough to tell it like it is” either.

But what is to be done in the face of such monumental selfishness, such wilful ignorance, such naked greed?

I’d like to think change is coming, whether the government figures and corporates named above like it or not – but I don’t think it will, unless somebody does something shocking.

I think someone would have to grab Messrs Cameron, Brokenshire, Egan and Franklin, along with Mrs May, drag them to the fracking well in Lancashire, and throw them down it – and then fill it in on top of them.

That’s what it would take to get these people to look up from counting their money and pay attention – the threat of extreme sanction.

But I can’t advocate such extreme measures – and the system is skewed in favour of the privileged. So what’s to be done?

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Freedom of Information request asks, ‘What guidance has God given Theresa May?’ #Brexit

Sadly, for the author of the new Freedom of Information request, this may be the closest Theresa May has ever come to communing with God.

How appropriate at this time of year.

https://twitter.com/GregLabour/status/809359446031929345

It is a real Freedom of Information request, although the Prime Minister’s office has yet to do more than acknowledge it.

What answer will Mrs May provide? At this moment, it seems, only God knows!

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Sanction threat to health: Duncan Smith replies with lies

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Iain Duncan Smith has responded to the concerns of fellow Catholics over the harmful effects of benefit sanctions on health – by lying to them.

Earlier this year, Catholic magazine The Tablet published an open letter from fellow Catholics to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urging him to rethink his welfare reforms, and warning that vulnerable people will be harmed by cuts.

Now the man we call the Gentleman Ranker, in tribute to his failure as an Army officer, has responded with a letter published in the current edition. Thanks to Samuel Miller for bringing the matter to This Blog’s attention.

In it, he claims that “safeguarding the vulnerable” is at the heart of the Conservative Government’s changes to the benefit system, and goes on to say, “Let me be clear that there is no evidence to suggest that sanctions have caused claimants’ health to deteriorate.”

Oh, really?

Take a look at this excerpt from the Department for Work and Pensions’ own guidance on the effect of benefit sanctions:

150121dmg-sanctions

Note that it does not say anything about there being no evidence that claimants’ health will decline – it automatically assumes that this will happen.

“It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health,” according to the DWP’s official guidance.

It goes on to say that, in the case of claimants with a medical condition, a DWP decision maker (DM) must decide whether they would suffer a “greater” decline in health than a “normal healthy adult”.

Yet again, Iain Duncan Smith is revealed to be a liar and, more importantly, a man who would deceive the public in order to continue inflicting harm on his fellow human beings.

Is this a Catholic attitude?

Is it a Christian point of view?

Remember, Iain Duncan Smith lied to Parliament recently, when he claimed that statistics on the deaths of incapacity benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants are not collected by the Department for Work and Pensions. Not only are they collected, they are being prepared for release to the public.

The data has been delayed for several years, however – because he wants it released in a form that will not reveal what is suspected to be a horrifying amount of blood on his own hands.

The claims in the rest of the letter pale into irrelevance next to these facts.

How can anyone trust the claims of a habitual liar?

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