Paramedic ‘refused to pick up a dying girl saying, I might hurt my back’ after she collapsed in violent fit on cross country run
A paramedic refused to carry a dying schoolgirl to an ambulance for ‘health and safety’ reasons, an inquest heard yesterday. Cassandra Lynn allegedly said she was worried about her back during the ‘chaotic’ attempt to save 14-year-old Shannon Powell.
Shannon had collapsed in mud and was foaming at the mouth in a violent fit during a cross-country race. But due to a series of gaffes, paramedics only reached her almost an hour later.
First aiders were so exasperated by Miss Lynn and her colleague from the London Ambulance Service they took matters into their own hands and carried Shannon themselves using a first aid trolley.
One, Daryl Proctor, told how they acted after Miss Lynn ‘said she didn’t want to hurt her back’. He said: ‘The paramedic was saying, “We can’t carry her because it’s health and safety and we might fall over”. They didn’t come up with any solution at all. We all looked at each other as if to say, “**** health and safety”.’
Shannon – who was just three weeks from her 15th birthday – died on the way to the ambulance.
A post-mortem examination found she had a rare undiagnosed heart disorder called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, linked to Sudden Death Syndrome in young people.
It is the latest in a string of cases in which vital minutes have been lost as emergency services dithered due to health and safety red tape.
When gunman Derrick Bird murdered 12 people in Cumbria last year, ambulances and rapid response vehicles were held back for up to 90 minutes because of safety rules.
Some victims of the 7/7 London bombings were left to die in agony because health and safety protocols meant firemen were unable to go into the train tunnels without official confirmation.
Yesterday, a catalogue of blunders was outlined at the inquest into the death of Shannon, a Year 10 pupil at fee-paying girls’ school Northwood College, in north-west London.
She was representing Ealing, Southall and Middlesex Athletics Club in a girls’ under-15s race at Trent Park, North London, when the tragedy happened on January 8.
Race marshal Catherine Sheppard, the first to reach Shannon, told North London Coroner’s Court she was infuriated by Miss Lynn’s attitude. ‘The response of the LAS attendant was it was her health and safety and her back that was the issue,’ she said. ‘I was very close to being verbally or physically abusive to the attendant.’
She went on: ‘I saw Shannon collapse on top of the hill. At that point she wasn’t awake. She appeared to be having a fit. Her eyes seemed dilated. She was shaking all over.’ The history teacher said she put her fleece over Shannon, and called for help. First aiders the private company Spectrum – hired to cover the race – arrived, and immediately called for an ambulance. But it took more than 50 minutes for paramedics to arrive, at 12.50pm.
Mrs Sheppard told the inquest the two paramedics had walked ‘incredibly slowly’ towards Shannon.
After she was placed on the trolley, she suffered a second seizure, and ‘sat bolt upright and screamed’, said Robbie Proctor, owner of Spectrum, and Daryl’s brother. Shannon’s mother, Simone, left the court as Mr Proctor spoke.
Miss Lynn admitted mentioning health and safety, but said: ‘What I actually said was we need to think of the health and safety of everyone. That included Shannon. I was trying to gain control of the situation.’ She said when she got the call, it was classed as ‘Green 2’, meaning a low priority case.
Access gates to the park were locked forcing the crew to leave the ambulance on the roadside. Miss Lynn said she and her colleague climbed the muddy hill to Shannon, nearly half a mile away.
She said: ‘She was alert. She was talking to me. She was not necessarily critical at that point. ‘It wasn’t until she seized for the second time that I thought there was something cerebral going on. I immediately began chest compressions and shouted to my colleague to come back. He had the defibrillator pads which were put on her as soon as he got back.’
The inquest also heard essential kit was missing from the ambulance, including a thermometer and a carry chair to transport Shannon.
It is not known if Shannon could have been saved had she received more urgent care. But an A&E consultant told the hearing there had been a ‘serious failure’. Dr Peta Longstaff said she would have graded the 999 call as a red flag high priority, and believed a mistake had been made by the call taker.
She added: ‘I think we fail to provide care in the NHS on a lot of levels.’
NHS computer farce to cost another £2bn
A US company contracted to provide IT technology for the National Health Service is set to receive a £2 billion extension despite the failed project being abandoned, it was claimed last night.
Computer Sciences Corporation [CSC] has reportedly informed Wall Street that it expects its contract to provide electronic patient records across the NHS to be extended.
Taxpayers are now facing an estimated £2billion bill, despite the company already failing to deliver a fully functional version of its software, The Times reported.
The £11.4billion National Programme for IT, set up in 2002, was at the time billed as the world’s biggest civilian computerisation project. It aimed to give doctors instant access to patient records wherever they were being treated and CSC had signed a deal to computerise records in most of England.
Digitising the medical records of the country’s 62 million people was the core objective of the National Programme for IT in the NHS, accounting for £7bn of the total estimated cost.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, announced in September that he was abandoning the scheme to create a national patient database because it had “let down” the health service. He made the decision to “urgently dismantle” the failed project after criticism it was not value for taxpayers’ money.
The Times claimed the company’s former chief-executive and chairman, Michael Laphen, who presided over the debacle, has quit with a golden handshake worth millions of pounds.
Yet the company stated in official US papers that it was in talks with the British Government for its contract to be extended until 2017, at a cost of up to £2billion. On Wednesday night, the Department of Health [DoH] admitted that “negotiations” were ongoing with the company over its NHS contracts, but would not comment further.
The Times reported that health trusts had been threatened with funding cuts unless they agreed to implement the system, and civil servants had privately estimated the software had a one-in-three chance of being late. Computer applications installed as part of the scheme have also failed or been scrapped.
However, £250,000 in bonuses has been paid by the DoH to 80 people involved in the scheme as a reward for “an exceptional contribution to delivery”, the newspaper said.
CSC, one of the world’s biggest IT providers, had been contracted to provide patient record software, known as the Lorenzo system, to 166 NHS hospitals. But it has delivered on 10 projects. None of those systems is fully functional.
But Mr Laphen repeatedly told Wall Street that progress was being made at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust which was used as a test case. The trust, however, admitted there were issues, in a statement to The Times but added: “No one from the trust has ever met with Mr Laphen.”
Dr Eccles, the medical director of Connecting for Health, the government agency delivering the IT reforms, said: “Lorenzo has had an extremely painful gestation. “Lorenzo may yet be a great success because it is a brilliant bit of software but they haven’t got it right yet.”
Mr Laphen met Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, in December last year. He said the software would be implemented at the Pennine Care trust by February, but that target was said to have been missed.
CSC has signed deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds with Royal Mail, Identity and Passport Service and UK Atomic Energy Authority.
On Wednesday it emerged that the Government is currently embroiled in a multimillion-pound legal battle with former suppliers over parts of the project and admitted the cost of ending the project may be higher than going ahead.
After an official review, the “one size fits all” project will be replaced by cheaper regional schemes allowing local health trusts and GPs to develop or buy individual computer systems to suit their needs.
The Coalition’s Major Projects Authority, established to review Labour’s financial commitments, found the scheme was not fit to provide services to the NHS. A cross-party committee of MPs concluded the programme had proved “beyond the capacity of the DoH to deliver”.
Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said it was “shameful” to pour more money into a failed initiative.
Mr Laphen, 61, has quit as chairman, president and chief executive of Computer Sciences Corporation.
Ahead of a legal battle set to be heard in a Virginia courtroom over the NHS, CSC has announced that Mr Laphen will retire by next October. Mr Laphen faces two law suits from shareholders. He is accused of making fraudulent statements about the success of the NHS contract while knowing it could not be delivered as promised, The Times said. CSC said he denied the allegations.
He will reportidely receive a $1 million-a-year pension for life from his business which benefits from lucrative deals funded by the British taxpayer. He declined to comment. He and his wife Rosemary live in Great Falls, Virginia, an affluent area of Washington DC.
The couple are said to be regulars on the social scene, often attending charity events and featuring in the society pages of the local media.
The couple also own a $1.8 million four-bedroom, five bathroom holiday home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the paper said.
A spokesman for CSC said: “In light of the stage of negotiations we are in with the NHS on our contract, we are limiting our public comments strictly to operational matters.” A DoH spokeswoman said: “Negotiations with CSC continue on their contracts with the NHS. “At this stage we are not prepared to comment further.”
Useless British police again
Bullied to his grave by gang of feral yobs: Coroner’s verdict on heart victim tormented for decades
A vulnerable man of 64 who collapsed and died after three decades of harassment by yobs was unlawfully killed, a coroner ruled yesterday. David Askew, who had learning difficulties, had a fatal heart attack after confronting some of the local youths who had subjected him to years of mockery and vandalism.
No one has ever been prosecuted over his death, but yesterday coroner John Pollard said he had no doubt Mr Askew had been unlawfully killed. He said the case showed how ‘feral youths can bring misery to a decent and vulnerable family’.
Mr Pollard also criticised ‘staggering inertia and complacency’ at the local council.
Mr Askew had been bullied by three generations of youths on an estate in the Hattersley area of Greater Manchester. He was pestered for money and cigarettes and on one occasion the yobs kicked in the family’s front door. Mocked as Dopey Dave, he had eggs and stones thrown at him when he went out. Windows of the family home were smashed.
During one two-month period he went to the offices of Tameside Council every day to complain while his mother called police 88 times. The inquest heard the council’s neighbourhood manager Mark Tunstall, who was in charge of community safety, was ‘out of his depth’ and never visited the family, even though his office was just 400 yards away.
Neighbourhood police visited regularly, the inquest heard, but senior officers felt Mr Askew was ‘part of the problem’ for giving the youths cigarettes in the hope they would leave.
Mr Askew died in March last year after confronting youths outside the house over an overturned wheelie bin and over tampering with his mother Rose’s mobility scooter
In September last year Kial Cottingham, 19, who lived just doors away, pleaded guilty to harassing Mr Askew and was locked up for 16 months. Prosecutors said there was no evidence to charge him with manslaughter. He apologised to the family when he gave evidence to the inquest.
At Trafford Coroners Court yesterday Mr Pollard recorded a verdict of unlawful killing. He cited the evidence of a pathologist who told the inquest that while it could not be scientifically proven that the stress of harassment on the night Mr Askew died led directly to his death, the circumstances of the case ‘strongly suggest’ it had.
After the hearing David’s mother Rose, now 90, said: ‘I am still angry about what happened but there is no use hating people.’
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘We have learned our lessons and made significant improvements to the way we deal with these crimes.’
David’s mother, now aged 90, said that she is still angry about the attack, but added that the family have now been made to feel very welcome in the community
David’s mother, now aged 90, said that she is still angry about the attack, but added that the family have now been made to feel very welcome in the community
Earlier this year an Independent Police Complaints Commission report highlighted ‘systemic failures’ by the force to link the calls made by the family and treat the abuse as a hate crime.
It also found CCTV cameras installed to catch the culprits were next-to-useless because the picture quality was too poor to recognise their faces.
Tameside Council admitted that ‘all agencies’ needed to work more closely to ensure that the vulnerable were better protected.
But arresting the innocent is fun
Mother arrested trying to throw gatecrashers out of her own HOME endures 20-month court battle to clear her name
A woman who was arrested when she tried to get rid of gatecrashers from her daughter’s birthday party has finally been cleared of wrongdoing after nearly two years.
Mother-of-two Penny Heffernan was charged with obstructing an officer and using threatening and abusive words or behaviour after neighbours called the police during the party.
But she claimed that police were ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’, and said that she was wrongfully arrested at a time when no one was being ‘unruly’.
The 56-year-old company boss was initially found guilty by magistrates, but has now had the verdict overturned after appealing to the Crown Court.
She has accused police of a ‘complete overreaction’ and is now pursuing a complaint against two officers after the 20-month fight to clear her name.
Her daughter, Sarah, had invited between 30 and 40 teenage guests to her 16th birthday party at the five-bedroom house in Norden, Greater Mancester, with her parents’ permission in March 2009. But she rang her mother, who owns a property management company in Manchester, for help after men walked in from the street.
Mrs Heffernan arrived home with her husband Brian after a meal with friends and was outside her house looking for the gatecrashers when police arrived.
She said she remonstrated with an officer who she claimed was being heavy-handed with one of the children.
Mrs Heffernan said: ‘I arrived at home to see quite a lot of people, but it wasn’t horrendous. My daughter and her friends had already got rid of all the gatecrashers. Then this police officer arrived – it was like he was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. ‘He was acting in a very aggressive way. The children were not being unruly and parents were arriving to collect their children.
‘I said to the officer that I was going to walk back to the house and asked if he wanted to join me to clean up. I was then arrested and frog-marched to a van.’
Mrs Heffernan, who owns Penny Ashton Sales, Lettings and Property Management, denied police claims that she was drunk, and said she had two small glasses of wine.
She spent a night in the cells at Chadderton Police Station and refused to accept a police caution the following morning, so was bailed then charged and appeared before Rochdale magistrates court in July last year.
Her solicitors wrote letters to the Crown Prosecution Service before the case to ask police not to destroy CCTV footage recorded from the police custody suite, which would act as evidence for the defence. But when the case was heard, the footage had already been destroyed. Mrs Heffernan was found guilty and conditionally discharged for 12 months.
She appealed and the case was thrown out at Bolton Crown Court. Mrs Heffernan said: ‘I should never had been charged, but accepting a caution is accepting guilt. It has been 20 months of hell.’
Police confirmed that the force’s professional standards branch has received a complaint against both the arresting officer and a custody sergeant, which is currently under investigation. A CPS spokesman said: ‘Our handling of the correspondence from the defence in this case fell below the standards we expect and action has been taken to ensure this does not happen again.’ [Ho, ho!]
Thoughts on Emma West
How to Argue with the Ruling Class
by Sean Gabb
One of the ways in which a ruling class keeps control is its insistence on rules of debate that place opposition at a regular disadvantage. I cannot think of any time or place where opposition voices have been listened to on fully equal terms. In modern England, however, the ruling class and its various clients and useful idiots are particularly rigid in their shepherding of debate. This is so not only because England is an increasingly totalitarian place, but also because the main legitimation ideologies are all obviously false and cannot be exposed to open criticism. Therefore, while speech mostly remains free in the legal sense, it will only be listened to when expressed in terms that privilege the ruling class.
And this brings me to what I really want to discuss – which is the demand for argument by supplication. Last week, Emma West was filmed swearing at a tram filled with black people. She was immediately punished by having her life destroyed. For those who, for whatever reason, have not heard about her, this brief statement of mine gives the main story:
Emma West is a white working class woman who got into an argument with some black people in a South London Tram. You can see the video here:
Miss West has now been arrested for her opinions and locked away, and her children have been taken away by the social services.
Of course, if she had been wearing a headscarf and screeching about the “kuffar” who were killing her brothers and sisters in Iraq/Afghanistan, the authorities would have looked the other way.
For a woman to have her children taken away because she expressed opinions disliked by the ruling class means we have come as close as doesn’t matter to a totalitarian police state. I note that this has happened under a “Conservative” Government. Where are all those “Tory” MPs who like to preen themselves on how libertarian they are? Don’t ask.
My view is that every single politician and official involved in this arrest of a dissident and legalised kidnapping of her children should be punished after the collapse of the present regime – not only sacked and deprived of pension rights (because they all will be in the disestablishment of the ruling class), but also made jointly and severally liable for compensating Miss West and her children for whatever they may have suffered.
I have quoted this in full not only because it gives the main facts of the case, but also because it brought a response that I was hoping to provoke someone into making. It came last Friday:
While the punishment meted out to this racist idiot is indeed unacceptable what is remarkable is that you should spring to her defence without disassociating yourself clearly from the contemptible views she espouses. More remarkable still is that you propose that every politician and official involved should be punished, deprived of their pension rights and held liable for compensating Miss West
Scratch a “free market anti-statist” and you will invariably find a statist lurking within
For non-market anti-statist socialism
Now, the writer of this is not a member of the ruling class. He may or may not be one of its clients. But he certainly comes into the category of useful idiot. Leave aside his assumption that a society can hold together by any other means than voluntary association or compulsion by the State – what interests me is his outrage that I did not join to my defence of Miss West’s rights a denunciation of what she said. Increasingly, you are only allowed to defend those persecuted by the ruling class by abasing yourself before the ruling class. Somewhere in what I said, I should have added a variant on the following:
I bow to no one in my utter revulsion of what this evil young guttersnipe said. Being myself a transgendered black lesbian, I have had more than my share of hate-filled bigotry. And I celebrate the immense patience shown by those poor abused people. That no one was driven to violence against West is proof of how strong our diverse and multicultural society has become. All this being said, it is only out of an old-fashioned, and therefore possibly misguided, liberalism that I beg for her not to suffer the full consequences of her totally abhorrent crime against humanity.
Well, I knew that I was expected to come out with this kind of dirt-kissing exercise, and I refused to comply. I refused, because it is inhuman to spit on someone who has already been brought down. I refused because a defence of someone’s rights is often compromised by adverse comment on what he has done. The paraphrase on Voltaire – “I disagree with what you say, but would defend to the death your right to say it” – is all very well when arguing with someone on the other side of a dinner table. My own view, when someone is lying on the ground, is to skip the disagreement.
This has always been my practice. In 1991, I wrote the first and one of the best defences of the “Spanner 15”– that is, of the homosexual men who were tried and punished for consensual acts in private: one of them was convicted of “aiding and abetting an assault on himself!” Not once in any of the essays I wrote or the speeches I made did I insist that I was not myself a leather-worshipping sado-masochistic homosexual, or that I would not like someone to drive a four inch nail through my penis. I got some very funny looks for this omission. But I refused then to distance myself from powerless and ruined victims of injustice – and I refuse now.
I also refuse because what is demanded of me is an endorsement of a legitimising ideology. Here – and for the sake of clarity alone – I will explain what I think of Miss West’s actions. She was vulgar in her speech and uncharitable in her sentiments. But I do not for a moment think that, except for her and people like her, what has been made of my country would be a vibrant love feast without end. While modern commerce and modern technology almost cry out for some mixing of peoples, state-sponsored mass-immigration has been made an excuse to destroy the internal cohesion of my people and to free my rulers from practical accountability. That a quarter of this country’s population may now be strangers, who have been encouraged neither to adopt nor even to respect our ways, is a problem to which I can think of no satisfactory answer. But I refuse, when speaking out against their growing intolerance of disagreement, to bow my head to the people who rule this country. They are not good people led astray by bad ideas. They do not occupy any moral high ground. Until such time as they grow more tyrannical than they have yet become, I will avoid arguing with them on their terms. What they have done to us is evil in itself, and, because it is highly unstable, it will almost certainly lead to greater evils. The least bad outcome will be a swift collapse of the regime they have created, and their punishment with some regard given to due process. And they deserve no less. They are in a position to know exactly what they are doing. If they have chosen not to make the obvious connections of cause and effect, their ignorance is culpable.
Because, more than is usually the case, it is founded on lies and violence, the present regime must eventually collapse. I have no inclination to join some future equivalent of storming the Bastille. Something I can do, though, is to look these people in the face, and refuse to observe their rules of debate. The purpose of these rules is to restrain a debate that would otherwise turn dangerous. No revolution has ever succeeded except after there had been a withdrawal of consent. Let this be withdrawn, and the secret of all power is laid bare – that we are many and they are few. There is little else I will do. But, however small it may be in the overall scheme of things, this much I have done already.
Why Britain’s private schools have a moral duty not to support government schools
According to Anthony Seldon, head of Wellington College, Berkshire, fee-paying private schools have a “moral duty” to help run failing government schools in deprived areas. However private schools are right to question the wisdom of this approach.
First, it is important to remember that the government initially intervened in education in the late 19th century to help support the growth and development of education in deprived areas. However, instead of subsidizing parents and allowing them to choose between a variety of different schools, previous governments directed all public subsidies towards its own free schools, whilst neglecting and ignoring all private alternatives. This subsequently forced the closure of thousands of private and voluntary schools leaving only a small number of private schools to cater for families on a higher income.
As a result, instead of focusing on the development of education in deprived areas, the government soon found itself attempting to manage and control the vast majority of schools serving both rich and poor alike. Unfortunately, any system of education which restricts the freedom of parents to choose will hit those on low incomes the hardest. While better off families can either move to the suburbs in search of a better school or purchase private tuition, those on low incomes who live in deprived areas are forced to accept their local government school, irrespective of how it performs. Government intervention has therefore had the opposite effect from the one that was originally intended.
However, after forcing the vast majority of private and voluntary schools out of business and after creating a system of education which restricts parents’ right to choose and penalises those families living in deprived areas, the government now attempts to blame the remaining private schools for all of the problems which they themselves have just created. And to put things right the guilty private schools must now give a helping hand to the failing government schools which they have helped to create. However, let’s be clear – all apartheid, social division and barriers in education are a direct result of the way in which all previous governments have directed public funds to government schools only, thereby denying parents their fundamental right to choose and eventually crowding out the majority of private alternatives.
Second, to suggest that Eton can help to transform a failing inner city comprehensive government school is to completely misunderstand the nature of the problem. First, I suspect that the knowledge and experience required to educate children who live in deprived areas is slightly different from the knowledge and experience required to educate children who attend Eton. Therefore as Eton will have very little if any knowledge or experience of educating children who live in deprived areas, it is difficult to see what they can bring to the table. Second, all failing (or coasting) government schools located in deprived areas exist because of the way in which all previous governments have directed public funds to government schools only, thereby denying parents their fundamental right to choose and eventually crowding out the majority of private alternatives. It should therefore be blatantly obvious that the only way to solve this problem is for the government to change the way they fund education by creating a level playing field, giving all schools an equal opportunity and by directing all public funds to parents.
Third, by lending their support to failing government schools, private schools will help to prolong the life of a stagnant and immoral government system, which restricts the fundamental right of parents to choose and restricts the freedom of a variety of different organisations to invest and compete in the delivery of children’s schooling. Private schools therefore have a moral duty not to support failing government schools.
Fourth, during the period in which the government proceeded to distort, disrupt and completely undermine the natural growth and development of education in the UK, the private schools that survived have simply gone about their business, doing what they do best, which is providing a unique educational experience to those parents who can afford to purchase it. Therefore to accuse these schools of perpetuating social division, suggests that freedom in education will make those who receive this education better off, only at the expense of those who don’t receive it who will end up worse off. However, one of the key reasons to justify government subsidies in education is because education has some public good qualities, in that the education received by some children will not only benefit these particular children but will also benefit the wider public, who can enjoy the benefits of living in a more educated and civilised society. The better education that one child receives can therefore only be a good thing for the child concerned and for the rest of society.
That said, if Wellington College want to help transform a failing government school then as a private and independent organisation, they are perfectly free to do so. However, attempting to claim the moral high ground by undertaking such an act is a different matter altogether and one that fails to take into account the reason why these schools are failing in the first place and the desperate need for the government to change the way it subsidises and intervenes in education. Therefore, if private schools want to help improve education in deprived areas, they could do much more good by lobbying the government and promoting a change in policy.
In the meantime, if some government schools want to benefit from receiving a service from a local private school then they should be prepared to pay for it. In education, as elsewhere, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
The current British High School exam system is “discredited”: Inquiry into cheating row as teachers are ‘coached by examiners’
Education Secretary Michael Gove last night ordered an inquiry into claims that examiners have been advising teachers on how to boost GCSE and A-level results. Chief examiners were filmed giving teachers advice on the words pupils should use to get top marks.
Mr Gove said that the footage ‘confirms that the current system is discredited’ and ordered the exam regulator Ofqual to investigate.
The disclosures will add to the row over claims of grade inflation over the past decade and fears over the ‘dumbing down’ of standards.
The undercover investigation found that teachers are paying up to £230 a day to attend seminars with examiners where the advice appeared to go beyond what is allowed. At one such meeting, one of the chief examiners for GCSE history from exam board WJEC was filmed by the Daily Telegraph telling teachers which questions should be expected in the next round of exams.
Paul Evans told teachers at the course in London last month that the compulsory question in the first part of the exam ‘goes through a cycle’.
‘This coming summer, and there’s a slide on this later on, it’s going to be the middle bit: “Life in Germany 1933-39” or for America, it will be “Rise and Fall of the American Economy”… So if you know what the compulsory section is you know you’ve got to teach that,’ he was filmed saying.
When questioned by a teacher on whether this meant they did not have to teach the whole syllabus, he replied: ‘We’re cheating. We’re telling you the cycle (of the compulsory question). Probably the regulator will tell us off.’
In November, at the AQA GCSE English seminar in Brighton, teachers were reportedly told that students could study only three out of 15 poems even though the Qualification and Curriculum Authority states it should be all 15.
In England there are three main exam boards offering GCSEs and A-levels – OCR, AQA and Edexcel – although the Welsh exam board, WJEC, has become more popular.
Critics last night said that the findings were proof that exam boards were lowering standards as they compete with one another to win business from schools. They also warned that it showed examiners were encouraging ‘teaching to the test’.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education said: ‘These findings are shocking, but not surprising, the whole system is rotten to the core. There is no question that standards are going down. Exam boards are competing for custom from schools and the only way to get more schools is to make the exams more attractive. We need to abolish these individual commercial exam boards and create one national exam board that has integrity.’
Announcing the investigation into the claims, Mr Gove said: ‘Our exams system needs fundamental reform. ‘The revelations confirm that the current system is discredited.
‘I have asked Glenys Stacey (the chief executive of Ofqual) to investigate the specific concerns identified… and to report back to me within two weeks with her conclusions and recommendations. ‘It is crucial our exams hold their own with the best in the world. We will take whatever action is necessary to restore faith in our exam system. Nothing is off the table.’
Last night, a spokesman for WJEC said: ‘The advice given in this particular context, relating to nine studies in depth and three thematic studies, is clearly set out in the GCSE History Teachers’ Guide. ‘The examiner at the training course attended… was confirming long-standing guidance on this subject. ‘The alleged use of the word “cheating” appears to have been injudicious, as well as inaccurate; we shall investigate this further.’
Windmill bursts into flame
Severe winds in Scotland have blown trucks off the road, toppled cement walls, brought down trees and forced a wind turbine to spin so quickly it burst into flames, with extreme weather also causing flooding and cutting power.
A 100-metre tall wind turbine at Ardrossan wind farm caught fire in the hurricane-force winds, with photographs showing bright orange embers flying through the air and thick black smoke.
The wind made operations “extremely challenging”, Edinburgh Airport said on its website.
Scottish Hydro said “thousands” of customers were without power, mostly in the west of Scotland. It said it expected the situation to “develop throughout the day” as the storm moved east.
The severe weather also hit parts of northern England, with Cumbria experiencing heavy rain and widespread localised flooding.