The brainless NHS
Is there a child left in Britain who ISN’T ‘obese’? Mother’s fury as sporty girl, four, who weighs just 3st 7lb (49lb.) is branded overweight — and even under challenge the brainless goons at the NHS are not backing down. It appears that they really do think she is “obese”
She’s not the first fit and healthy child to be labelled clinically obese by the NHS. And almost certainly she won’t be the last. But if any case prompts the health police to rethink their approach, it should be Lacie-May Gray’s.
She is smallest in her class and loves nothing more than swimming and playing on her trampoline. But the four-year-old – who weighs just 3st 7lb – was warned of the ‘serious implications’ of her weight in a stern letter from NHS bosses. The letter said that 3ft 6in Lacie-May was so overweight she could be at risk of cancer and heart disease in later life.
Her mother Natasha, 34, has branded the letter ‘pathetic’ and said her sports-mad daughter was a ‘completely normal child’. Mrs Gray added: ‘It is absolutely ridiculous. ‘There is no way she is overweight, let alone very overweight or fat. ‘All the other mums were just as baffled as I was. She’s just a typical little girl.’
Mrs Gray said the tone of the letter was ‘shocking’ and ‘very over-the-top.’ ‘It suggested I contact my local GP practice for advice.When I rang them, they basically laughed and said there was nothing the matter with Lacie-May.’
Mrs Gray received the letter after an NHS nursing team carried out a check on Lacie-May at Marshland St James Primary School, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
She and her classmates had their body mass index calculated as part of a scheme aimed at cracking down on childhood obesity. For adults, BMI is measured by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared.
Although the calculation for children begins the same way, the result is then compared with those of others of the same age and sex to calculate the child’s ‘centile’ – or position relative to others on a scale of one to 100. Lacie-May registered a ‘centile’ of 98. Between 91 and 97 is classed as overweight, and 98 and above is clinically obese.
But Mrs Gray said her daughter – like brother Brandon, 16, and sisters Charlotte, 11, and Kelsey, 9 – was very active, not allowed junk food and ate a normal diet.
The full-time mother said she was worried the letter could lead to Lacie-May developing anorexia. She added: ‘It is absolutely ridiculous. She is one of the smallest in her reception class and there is no way she is overweight, let alone very overweight.
‘Children aren’t stupid and listen to conversations – it could give her self-confidence issues and she could grow up to be anorexic. She added: ‘She is not a big eater, she doesn’t just sit and eat crisps all day. She has three meals and an occasional snack.
‘The school knows its children and their families, surely it would be better for them to say something if they think there is an issue like being overweight than to have strangers making judgements based on a set of guidelines.
‘I contacted the NHS Trust to tell her how ridiculous and upsetting the letter was and her response was to offer to send someone out to speak to me about a healthier lifestyle.’
Anna Morgan, of Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, said the letters were ‘based on a nationally developed template.’ She added: ‘We’re not suggesting that children don’t change size and shape as they grow. ‘But these measurements can help parents to understand whether their child is likely to be a healthy weight for their height, age and gender
‘The Child Measurement Programme letters, which are based on a nationally developed template, give parents an indication of their child’s height, weight and BMI measurements. ‘This is to help ensure parents are aware of whether their child’s BMI is within the ‘healthy’ range or not.
‘By providing parents with this information, which gives an accurate snap-shot in time, we aim to help parents to make informed decisions about their family’s lifestyle.’
Earlier this month, the Mail told how four-year-old Buckinghamshire girl Sarah Kettle was labelled ‘overweight’ and in the ‘danger zone’ by NHS staff despite weighing just 2st 13lb and spending her free time swimming and roller-skating.
Archbishop of York victim of ‘naked racism’, claims ally
This is all too funny. Senior C of E clerics can stand His Grace being black and foreign-born but being a genuine Christian who respects Bible teachings on homosexuality is unforgiveable. They are even willing to resort to racist remarks to justify their hostility to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them were covert homosexuals themselves
The early favourite to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury is the victim of “naked racism” by critics who are trying to besmirch his name, one of his closest supporters has claimed.
The outspoken Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, was born in Uganda and is the only black bishop in the Church of England. A former aide, who is about to become the Church’s director of communications, said there was a “stark contrast” between the way Dr Sentamu was portrayed and the treatment of other bishops.
“At its best, the besmirching of John Sentamu has revealed that strand of snobbery which views outsiders as lacking class, diplomacy or civility — in other words ‘not one of us,’” said the Rev Arun Arora.
“At worst, it has elicited the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history.”
His allegation of an “anonymous whispering” campaign against Dr Sentamu has the potential to be hugely damaging to the Church.
It recalls the last time that the Church sought a new Archbishop of Canterbury, in 2002, when the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, then Bishop of Rochester, was described as a “Paki Papist” by an unidentified cleric.
Dr Sentamu has spoken in the past about his experience of racism but stressed that any abuse came from outside the Church.
However, two bishops who spoke to The Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity drew, unprompted, on Dr Sentamu’s African birth in their criticism — one likening his temperament to that of an “African chief”.
He said: “I think Sentamu is clearly going to be a very strong front-runner, although I think there are also the people who are not quite sure that he is suitable in terms of the way he behaves, because he is quite tribal and the African chief thing comes through.
“My preferred candidate would be [the Bishop of] Norwich, who is very level-headed, sensible and would actually do the job well and has a lot more kind of stability. You wouldn’t know where you were with Sentamu, whereas you would with Norwich.”
The second bishop, who is retired, said Dr Sentamu had some “outrageous moments” which had been “balanced” out by Dr Rowan Williams. He added: “There is something in Sentamu which retains his African views and approach, which can be at one time an asset and another time can be a problem.”
The retired bishop said Dr Sentamu’s African background was apparent in “his understanding around issues of human sexuality”. The Archbishop has opposed Government proposals for same-sex marriage.
Last night, The Sunday Telegraph gave both bishops the opportunity to put their comments on the record but they declined. Both denied their comments were racist.
Their words will be seized on by supporters of Dr Sentamu, who fear a whispering campaign against him.
He was immediate favourite to become Archbishop of Canterbury when Dr Williams announced his departure last month, but is now in third place with bookmakers, behind the Bishop of Coventry and the Bishop of Norwich.
The comments by Dr Sentamu’s former aide were published on Mr Arora’s blog on March 23, before his new appointment was announced.
Dr Sentamu, a former barrister and judge, has campaigned against racism and advised the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry.
In 2000, he criticised police after an officer refused to justify stopping him and searching his car near St Paul’s Cathedral.
Earlier this year, he received racist emails after speaking out against plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
British doctors ‘forced to carry out sex-change ops’ under rules meant to ‘marginalise Christian medics’
Christian doctors have criticised a new ruling that they claim will force them to carry out sex-change operations against their will.
Under new guidelines drawn up by the General Medical Council, they will no longer be able to refuse to perform the operations on the grounds that they are against their religious beliefs.
Until now, section five of the GMC code said: ‘You may choose to opt out of providing a particular procedure because of your personal beliefs and values.’
But a GMC meeting last week decided that doctors will be banned from opting out of providing sex changes as they are ‘only sought by a particular group of patients and cannot therefore be subject to a conscientious objection’.
Dr Peter Saunders, who runs the Christian Medical Comment blog, said: ‘Legislation and regulations are being used to marginalise Christian health professionals in Britain. ‘This new GMC guidance is a clever piece of double-speak.’
Doctors were told they are free to practise medicine in accordance with their beliefs, he said, yet they were also told that if this involved ‘denying patients access to appropriate medical treatment or services’ then they must ‘set aside their personal beliefs’. He added: ‘British medicine in the 21st Century now involves practices which many doctors regard as unethical.
This latest guidance by the GMC will be seen by many as a further attack on the right to practice independently in accordance with one’s conscience, which lies at the heart of being a true health professional.
‘A significant number of doctors do not wish to be involved in sex-change operations or prescribing contraceptives to unmarried couples.’
A GMC spokeswoman said last night that the new guidelines – currently for consultation – only reflected the ‘law of the land’. She said the Equality Act 2010 already prohibited doctors from discriminating against people who are undergoing gender reassignment treatment.
British private school to create chain of ‘happy academies’ (charters)
Sounds absurd — like California around 1990
A new chain of “happy schools” is being launched by a leading public school and a former aide to the Prime Minister.
The network of state-funded academies will have “well being” at the heart of the curriculum, with lessons in positive psychology for all pupils based on classes pioneered at Wellington College in Berkshire, where fees for boarders are £30,000 a year.
Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington, has appointed James O’Shaughnessy, who until October was David Cameron’s head of policy, to run the scheme.
Mr O’Shaughnessy, a Wellington old boy, is a proponent of the Prime Minister’s controversial “happiness index”, a measure of the nation’s well-being levels to be published this summer.
He said the private school’s brand of education could benefit thousands of children in up to a dozen new academies in the next five years.
“I was initially very sceptical about the happiness and wellbeing stuff,” said Mr O’Shaughnessy. “But at Number 10 we did a lot of work on it and I came to believe that there was a science to it and that it wasn’t just airy-fairy wishful thinking.
“The field of positive psychology has demonstrable, scientifically tested benefits to people’s mental health. It helps people to lead better lives. It doesn’t mean that money or jobs or other traditional things don’t matter but we all have a sense that there is more to life than that. We want to encapsulate that in an education context.”
Mr Seldon, the biographer of Tony Blair, is in the vanguard of the “happiness agenda”, having introduced it in Wellington in 2006.
The lessons, designed by Professor Richard Layard of the London School of Economics, are aimed at developing pupils’ mindfulness, optimism, emotional resilience and self-confidence.
They are also taught at the new Wellington Academy, in Tidworth, Wiltshire, a state-funded boarding school, sponsored by the independent college with a £2 million donation from Goldman Sachs. It opened in 2009, replacing a failing school.
Mr Seldon is in a minority of independent school head masters who has answered David Cameron’s call for the private sector to play its part in the academies programme by sponsoring nearby state schools.
His new chain, for which he is seeking £5 million private funding, will include a mixture of failing schools, new schools and good schools which want to convert to academy status under the Government’s expansion plan.
They will join the 1,641 secondary schools in England, out of a total of 3,261, that are now academies or have applied to be one.
The Wellington chain curriculum will be built around the aim of developing pupils’ character.
For instance, English lessons could involve looking at the strengths and weaknesses of characters in classic English literature to encourage pupils to consider their own.
“There is a false dichotomy in British education – that it is about learning facts or producing happy people,” said Mr O’Shaughnessy. “The truth is, it is about both.
“If you think about what those really good public schools do so well, develop the personality traits of optimism and ambition, altruism, service, character and grit, these things are not advertised in the glossy brochures but they are implicit in the kind of education parents pay good money for.
“They have developed over decades of tradition and they are in every brick. That is what we want to transfer. We don’t just want a good group of schools, but a tangible ‘Wellington group’ of schools.”
The former adviser said the approach, based on the positive psychology pioneered by Martin Seligman, an American psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania, had a scientific basis.
As a result, it differed from the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme, which the Labour government spend millions of pounds on to little discernible effect, he claimed.
“It is not the same thing,” said Mr O’Shaughnessy. “It is very far from the ‘Are you all right, are you happy?’ approach that turns into fluff at one end of the spectrum. The resilience programme developed by Pennsylvania University has been adopted by the US Army for over a million soldiers, it is a tough approach.”
Academies are schools which are funded directly from Whitehall and independent of local authority control. They employ their own staff and set their own pay, conditions and curriculum.
Many successful academies are members of chains run by charities and not-for-profit companies such as Oasis Community Learning, the United Learning Trust, Harris Federation, E-ACT and ARK.
The Government argues that academies produce better results. Opponents point to statistics which show that the schools exclude three times more pupils than the national average.
The Office for National Statistics is due to deliver the first official “happiness index” in July.
How to do better in your exams: Drinking a glass of water can boost your results by a grade
I doubt that the drink did anything. Taking a drink into an exam may however indicate forethought — and forethought may mean that they have studied more too
Forget expensive private tutors and brain-boosting vitamins. The key to exam success could be as simple as a glass of water. Students who took a drink into the exam hall did up to 10 per cent better than those who did not – the difference between a grade.
Although it is unclear why a drink should help, one theory is that information flows more freely between brain cells when they are well hydrated. Researchers said that drinking water may also calm nerves, while those who became thirsty during test time could be more easily distracted.
The study, which looked at hundreds of university students, compared whether they took a drink – such as water, coffee or cola – into the exam with their final marks.
The students’ overall academic ability was then factored in, to ensure that the results were not skewed by the possibility that smarter students are also more thirsty.
Those who arrived armed with drinks did around 5 per cent better on average. But the improvement was even more marked among those just starting out at university, whose results improved by as much as 10 per cent – the difference between being awarded a first-class degree and a 2.1, the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s heard.
The type of drink did not change the results, meaning the students’ performance could not be put down to caffeine or sugar.
Researcher Chris Pawson, from the University of East London, said: ‘The results imply that the simple act of bringing water into an exam was linked to an improvement in the students’ grades.’ Dr Mark Gardner, of Westminster University, added that it was not clear why the greatest improvement was seen in new students.
However, it could be they were the most anxious, or having newly left home were more prone to wild nights out and so in greater need of hydration.
Earlier research from the University of East London has shown that children aged between seven and nine who drank water did better on tests of visual attention and memory.