Woman killed herself after husband left her alone on NHS advice
Depression is a terrible illness best prevented by connectedness with others but even that does not always help
An NHS mental health trust has apologised and paid damages to a man whose suicidal wife killed herself after he followed its advice to give her more responsibility by leaving her at home alone.
Sarah Latter, 39, hanged herself on April 19, 2010, after a long battle with depression that included multiple suicide attempts in the month leading to her death.
Her husband, Stephen Latter, had stopped these attempts, but was given advice to give his wife more responsibility by staff at the Cavell Centre in Bretton, Cambridgeshire, run by Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
He then left her alone during the afternoon and when he returned a few hours later, she had committed suicide. Mr Latter believes his wife would still be alive if it were not for failings in her mental health care, and he brought a legal case against the trust.
The trust apologised to him in February and an undisclosed out-of-court settlement was accepted this week.
Mr Latter, of King’s Cliffe, Cambridgeshire, said: “No apology or compensation will ever right this wrong-doing. The treatment provided by the trust was nothing short of a disgrace. “Those directly involved, towards whom I feel great anger, should be ashamed of themselves for the part they played in Sarah’s suicide.
“I hope that these people are no longer employed by the trust so that others don’t suffer a similar fate at their hands.”
A trust spokesman would not reveal if the people responsible were still employed. He did say they have since reviewed their discharge policy, crisis resolution and increased carer awareness training.
He said: “We were deeply saddened by Sarah’s tragic death. We conducted a thorough investigation which has been shared with the family and have made a number of changes. “We have worked closely with the family since 2010 and will continue to offer them support if they need it.”
Mrs Latter, a PR executive,had been treated for depression over a number of years.
Anti-depressant medication was believed to have been successful until her symptoms re-ocurred in February 2010 – two months before her death.
After she did not respond to the anti-depressant prescribed to her, she took a short voluntary stay at the Cavell Centre. Her medication was changed during her stay in the centre.
Then in March and early April, Mrs Latter made numerous attempts to take her own life, all of which were prevented due to her husband’s intervention.
The couple was told that Mrs Latter needed to take responsibility for herself by the crisis team at the Edith Cavell Hospital. Acting on this advice, Mr Latter left her alone for a few hours on the afternoon of April 19, 2010, when she hanged herself.
Wow! British TV channel airs doubts about the history of Islam
This has been known among scholars for years but was totally unknown to the general public. Unlike the four gospels, all the written records of Mohammed and his doings date from around 200 years after the events alleged. There is a view that he is a myth created for the purposes of Egyptian politics in the 9th century AD
I myself find it a little strange that the allegedly all-conquering Muslims coexisted alongside the Christian Greek empire of Byzantium for roughly half a millennium. And when Byzantium did fall, it fell to marines of the Most Serene Republic (of Venice) — not to Muslims. Cursed be Doge Dandolo! Though Muslims soon exploited the damage done by the Venetians
Channel 4 is at the centre of a storm over a programme it broadcast on the history of Islam. Islam: The Untold Story has triggered nearly 550 complaints to both the television regulator Ofcom and Channel 4 itself. It has also sparked a bitter war of words on Twitter involving leading historians and Islamic scholars.
Since it was screened last week, presenter Tom Holland, a historian with a double first from Cambridge, has been subjected to a torrent of abusive tweets, some of which have included physical threats. He is accused of distorting the history of Islam by claiming the Koran makes little or no reference to the religious city of Mecca.
One Twitter user accused Mr Holland of trying to destroy Islamic history while another called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion’.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy has published a lengthy paper denouncing the programme. But historians have rallied to Mr Holland’s defence.
Dan Snow, who has presented history shows for the BBC with his father Peter, described the programme as ‘a triumph’, tweeting: ‘Dear angry, mad people – it is conceivable that you know more than the world’s leading scholars, but very unlikely.’
The Academy claims the programme’s assertion that there are no historical records detailing the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad is flawed. ‘Holland appears to have turned a blind eye to rich Islamic historical tradition,’ says the Academy.
Ofcom, which has received 150 complaints about the programme’s alleged bias, inaccuracy and offence caused to Muslims, is considering an investigation.
Last night Mr Holland said: ‘The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical inquiry and this film is wholly in keeping with other series and programmes on Channel 4. ‘We were of course aware that we were touching deeply-held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilisational power of Islam was acknowledged.’
Strict limits on political opinions in Britain
Man wrote carefully and was not advocating violence but he was arrested nonetheless
A British dad has been arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred after praising mass murderer Anders Breivik on Facebook, it emerged today. Philip Horn, 44, allegedly said on the social networking site that he ‘takes his hat off’ to the infamous gunman.
The Norwegian slaughtered 77 adults and teenagers when he bombed government buildings in Oslo and carried out a mass shooting on the island of Utoya in July last year.
Horn, a father-of-three, from Gillingham, was arrested by Kent Police on Thursday afternoon and is currently being held in custody.
Horn, who is reported to have links with the English Defence League, is also alleged to have publicly supported Breivik’s crusade to ‘protect his country from Muslims’.
The unemployed builder from Gillingham, Kent, is said to have posted a message saying: ‘Well done Anders Breivik. I take my hat off to you sir. ‘You proved you were not insane and that you are just one of many like myself who wish their country to return to the way it was before it was invaded by the Muslim population. Respect to you.’
He was also filmed by a national newspaper saying: ‘If someone came to my door in a uniform and said they were going to bang me up for six months then fine. I’m not going to retract any remarks I made.
‘To a certain extent I do defend what he’s [Breivik] done. Go back 40-50 years ago to Norway, would you have seen people walking around in burkas and all that? ‘I am a racist to a certain extent. Of course it’s wrong to kill children, but if he had to do it that way to get his point across, so be it.’
A Kent Police spokesman said: ‘During the afternoon of Thursday, August 30 a 45-year-old man from Gillingham was arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. ‘He is currently in police custody.’
He has since been released on bail. Interesting to see if the cops pursue the matter.
British paedophile who downloaded sickening child porn is spared jail because prison ‘could make him more dangerous’
A paedophile who downloaded child porn has been spared jail after a judge said locking him up could be more dangerous to society in the long term.
Jason Fairfax, 35, of Bargoed, south Wales, had amassed a collection of around 2,700 indecent images when police raided his home earlier this year.
The photographs and videos were later graded from one to five – with the higher the category, the more serious the offence.
Cardiff Crown Court heard almost a third of the images were at the higher end of the scale – with 786 level four and 29 level five images.
The details of the photographs were so serious, Judge David Wyn Morgan asked the media not to publish their details.
He said: ‘When the police investigated your computer, they found a staggering number of images that were indecent. ‘There was a very large number of them at the top end of the scale, at level four and five. ‘The natural reaction of any decent human being would be that you should go to prison for as long as possible.
‘But when the revulsion has subsided, the court must consider precisely what that would achieve. ‘You would go into prison as sex offender and still come out as one – just as dangerous if not more so than you are at the moment. ‘And the protection of the public must be of paramount concern to the court.’
Defending barrister Andrew Jones said his client was deeply ashamed of his actions – but said Fairfax had accessed the images when he was suffering with severe depression. Mr Jones told the court the cause of the depression had been due to the defendant’s difficulty in coming to terms with his sexuality.
In mitigation, he added Fairfax had also not distributed the images and had no previous convictions.
Judge Morgan decided to make the defendant the subject of a sex offenders treatment programme for three years. He will also have to sign the sex offenders’ register until at least 2017 and undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.
Furthermore, Fairfax is not allowed to have any contact with any children under the age of 16 – either in person, on the telephone or via the internet – without the approval of their parents.
He is also banned from deleting the browsing history on his computer as well as erasing any images from a digital camera or camera phone without permission from the police.
Judge Morgan said: ‘This is not a soft option. It is a particularly difficult one. ‘Everybody now knows about you and your reputation has been exploded.
‘Should you fail to comply with any of the court’s orders then you will wind up in custody.’
House of Lords staff banned from bantering with colleagues in case it is deemed offensive
It prides itself on being the home of independent thought and robust free speech. But now the House of Lords has been branded ‘Orwellian’ after it advised its staff to avoid office banter on the grounds that it can be offensive.
Employees of the second chamber have been advised that even seemingly harmless chat can lead to other colleagues feeling left out and alienated.
The advice has been issued to hundreds of staff as part of a series of taxpayer-funded equality and diversity sessions on ‘cultural awareness’.
During the two-hour sessions, staff are told that the ‘golden rule’ of treat others as you would like to be treated has been replaced by the ‘platinum rule’ of treat others as they would like to be treated.
Participants are advised that individuals can be defined by their body size, place of birth and even their hobbies and interests just as much as by their race, gender or ethnicity.
It is therefore important to ‘see beyond’ a person’s membership of a particular group and to treat them all as individuals.
A subsequent section on ‘effective communication’ advises participants to ‘avoid banter’, ‘to allow people to self-identify’ and ‘to make minority groups visible using inclusive terms’.
Details of the House’s training programmes have been obtained by this newspaper under Freedom of Information laws. During the past 12 months, almost 300 House of Lords employees have been on equality and diversity courses at a cost to taxpayers of just over £18,000.
The House’s clampdown on banter has infuriated campaigners and writers, who insist it is part and parcel of office life. Chrissie Maher, founder of the Plain English Campaign, said: ‘I thought the House of Lords is supposed to be a place where people can speak their minds.
‘I think it’s healthy to have banter and I don’t think it isolates people. People can always join in, and if they don’t want to take part they can always listen and learn.’
Australian novelist and avowed feminist Kathy Lette said: ‘The greatest thing about the English is your wit, and banter is your lifeblood.
‘British self-deprecation and love of wordplay is what sustained you through the Blitz. And now they want to ban banter in the workplace. Where are we suddenly? A Russian gulag? A sci-fi Orwellian nightmare of robotic people? Remove office banter and it will be a case of the bland leading the bland.’
A ban on banter would be unsustainable on the floor of the House of Lords, where members delight in trading insults.
Last year, veteran Tory peer Baroness Trumpington, 89, was caught on camera giving a two-finger salute to Lord King after he made an unflattering reference to her age during a debate on war veterans.
Her gesture became an instant internet hit. In 2004, Lord Higgins accused former Pensions Minister Malcolm Wicks of being ‘generally confused’ during a discussion.
A spokesman for the House of Lords last night insisted that banter could be ‘misunderstood’ and ‘cause offence even where none was intended’.
She said: ‘The House of Lords values diversity and provides training to enable its staff to explore and understand issues, such as behaviour and language sensitivities, that may arise from working with a broad range of people.
‘It is important all staff are treated with dignity and respect, and we offer training to ensure this is the case.’
Diversity Dynamics, the company that provides the training sessions for the House of Lords, last night declined to comment.
The coming qualifications revolution
Comment from Britain
A new generation of qualifications has recently emerged in the global IT sector, which operate very differently from our traditional GCSE’s and A Levels. For example, Microsoft Learning is now a global leader in IT qualifications and they offer a wide range of Microsoft Certifications which provide individuals with technical expertise and prove their ability to design and build innovative solutions across multiple technologies. Due to the rapid rate of change in this sector, new Microsoft qualifications are continuously being introduced and existing qualifications revised. Some certifications are retired when Microsoft ends its support for the related technology and others must be updated every three years by taking a refresh exam. This generates additional income for the company, enables students to keep up to date on the latest developments in the field and ensures that potential employers have confidence that someone who holds a Microsoft Certification is current and engaged with Microsoft technologies. In short the value and the relevance of the qualification are maintained over time.
The branding of these new qualifications is also significant because the quality and reputation of the qualification is now inextricably linked with the quality and reputation of the parent company. Therefore any criticism of the Microsoft Certification will have a negative impact on the corporate image of Microsoft itself, which places pressure on the company to continuously maintain and improve the quality of its qualifications by investing in research and development and experimenting with new and better ways of delivery. Further pressure comes from existing and any future competitors from around the world which may introduce a superior alternative at any time. Again, all of these pressures help to maintain the value and the relevance of the qualification.
Because the government uses examination results as a key measure of a schools performance, schools respond by teaching to the test and by choosing the exam board which has the highest pass rate, i.e the easiest exams. You therefore end up with a race to the bottom with each private exam company competing to provide the easiest exams. Children continue to get better exam results, schools continue to climb the league table and the government can boast of helping to improve standards across the board. And when people begin to highlight the blatantly obvious, that despite increasing grades, children appear to be less educated than half a century ago, the private companies which provide the curriculum and the exams can simply hide behind the cover of the government and its generic GCSE qualification, which now attract most of the criticism. As a result the branding of the company remains intact, while the value of the GCSE continues to decline, until it becomes worthless.
Thankfully, a new generation of specialist qualifications may soon begin to appear in more traditional subjects across the curriculum, as a variety of world class companies and organisations begin to offer their own branded certificates, in the subject areas in which they specialise. For example, Pfizer could provide qualifications in the sciences, Khan Academy on maths, Pearson on English, Adobe on web design, Virgin on entrepreneurship, Google on utilising the internet, National Geographic on geography, the British Museum on history, the Economist on economics, Fitness First on sport, Jamie Oliver on home economics, Office Angels on how to get a job, Marks and Spencer on customer service and Greenpeace on the environment. The list is endless.
This unbundling of the school into different subject areas helps to redefine the school as a mechanism that provides students with an assortment of services instead of delivering an indivisible package of education. We can then start to disentangle the components of that package and customise them to fit specific student needs and abilities. Choice, variety and specialisation will therefore begin to increase within each school, and each school will now be in a position to offer their students a variety of different courses and qualifications. With the use of online technology this increasing variety and customisation of children’s education is now much more affordable and this will also encourage a new blended style of learning that combines the classroom with an online experience.
This unbundling of the school will certainly appeal to those parents who live in areas where there is a lack of alternative schools to choose from or who may not want to disrupt their children’s education by transferring them to a different school. Instead, if they are not satisfied with their child’s progress in a particular subject then they will now have the opportunity to choose between a variety of different educational programmes and qualifications within the same school. Therefore the goal for customised, unbundled school reform is not to develop a new model of what a good school should look like but to create a flexible system that enables schools and a variety of specialist content providers to meet a variety of needs in increasingly effective and targeted ways.
The end result is that children would not simply graduate after 11 years of schooling with a single certificate which lists the subjects studied and the corresponding A-F grade. Instead they would graduate with a portfolio of branded qualifications which have real meaning in the outside world and which provide useful information concerning the knowledge and skills acquired by each student. However, unlike traditional qualifications these branded qualifications will not hold their value for ever but will expire after a certain period of time unless a refresh exam is taken. This is the only way to guarantee that the qualification holds its value and remains relevant over time, thereby protecting the brand image of both the qualification and the parent company.
Bad teachers ‘blight children’s futures’, warns British education boss
Under-performing teachers are to be weeded out under new powers given to inspectors to scrutinise them and heads to have them sacked.
The powers, which come into force this week were described as “zero tolerance” by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and now put teachers under an unprecedented level of scrutiny.
Under new rules which come into force from tomorrow (MONDAY), Ofsted, the school inspectors, will toughen up its regime significantly.
Head teachers will get less than 24 hours notice of an Ofsted visit, while inspection teams will observe more classes, listen to pupils read, monitor behaviour and check payrolls to ensure the salaries of weak teachers reflects their performance.
There is concern that performance bonuses are being given to undeserving teachers.
At the same time as the new Ofsted regime comes into force, Government rules designed to tackle substandard teachers take effect.
Heads and governors will be able to sack the worst-performing staff in just a term – rather than a year – under new “capability” procedures.
Teachers have far greater rights to keep their jobs than most other workers, and unions have zealously defended procedures which mean just a handful have ever been sacked for incompetence.
A three hour a year limit on the amount of time head teachers could spend observing a teacher’s lessons has also been scrapped, allowing them to go in to classrooms as often as they like to root out low quality teaching.
Mr Gove promised “zero tolerance” of poor teachers.
“We’ve got a great generation of young teachers but every hour a child spends with a bad teacher blights their future,” he said.
“No parent would willingly tolerate bad teaching for their child and this government believes in zero tolerance for classroom failure. That is why we are changing the rules to give heads the power to ensure every child gets a fair chance.”
Out of the 5,000 schools inspected last year, 36 per cent of primary schools and 34 per cent of secondaries were deemed “satisfactory” or below. The quality of teaching was not good enough in 38 per cent and poor in 3 per cent.
In one of the biggest changes to the Ofsted regime, children of all ages in primary school will read to inspectors.
The measure is an attempt to stop pupils arriving at secondary school unable to learn because their reading is not good enough.
It follows concerns from parents that primary teachers are failing to listen to their children read one-to-one and instead depend on teaching assistants and group reading.
Guidance for inspectors in synthetic phonics, the method to teach reading favoured by the Government which breaks down words in to their constituent sounds, reveals that they will even assess how well teachers “articulate and mouth” the sounds of letters.
Teachers will be marked down if children answer questions by a general “hands up”, rather than being picked out for an individual response, or if phonics lessons are too slow.
Schools with mediocre teaching, previously rated “satisfactory”, will no longer be able to coast. Any schools judged to be below a good standard will be told to improve and reinspected within two years.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, said: “From this week, school inspections will further challenge schools to ensure a good education is provided for all our children.
“I make no apology for introducing an inspection framework that raises expectations and focuses on the importance of teaching. The new short-notice inspections allow inspectors to see schools as they really are.
“I believe all children, regardless of where they live or what their parents can afford for them, have the right to a good education and that belief is at the heart of our work at Ofsted.”
Teachers pay arrangements will also be checked. Inspectors will look for a “strong link” between a teacher’s appraisal and where they are on the salary scale, suggesting that poorly rated teachers should be paid less than their stronger colleagues.
Earlier this year, Sir Michael said heads needed to be tough enough to warn teachers whose performance was not up to scratch that they would be subjected to a pay freeze.
“There is nothing more infuriating than a really good teacher who goes the extra mile seeing somebody else getting the same pay rise as him for no effort,” he told a conference.
Teachers have accused Mr Gove and Sir Michael of creating a climate of fear in schools. They have also criticised the competence of inspectors.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “No other profession would accept this level of scrutiny and mistrust.
“As professionals, teachers should obviously be accountable but new proposals on appraisal and capability procedures alongside new rules on teacher observation have little to do with raising standards.
“They will simply de-motivate teachers and risk them leaving the profession.”