Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Latest ‘Disability'

It’s a few years ago now since I posted about the latest disability in children, commonly labelled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). More and more children were diagnosed with this ‘aliment’ and schools encouraged parents to take their children to the GP.  Why?  Schools receive extra funding for children with recognised disabilities and ADHD had become a disability. thus qualifying for benefits.

It’s my firm belief that the lack of quiet time in primary schools goes some way towards children developing ADHD plus the lack of exercise many suffer these days.

Of course ADHD has been around for years.  Thirty years ago a neighbour’s child - a really pleasant wee girl - ran her family and school, ragged.  The parents were into ‘healthy eating’ and the mother thought she could do no wrong, but the wee lassie just couldn’t sit still for more than a minute. So often her mother said “She’s ants in her pants” and laughed.  It was her primary school headmaster who suggested a visit to the GP would be wise and the GP diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and the wee girl was given a sedative to help her sleep.  Fortunately the GP didn’t leave it at one visit and a prescription and investigated further. After a basic allergy test it was found the girl was allergic to one of the E colourings in her mother’s favourite orange juice (freshly pressed of course).  There was no talk of ADD being a disability or the taxpayer providing extra funds for the family. 

Of course that was 30 years ago and things have changed.

Now ADD or ADHD is an acceptable disability.  Sadly.  The label provides an excellent opportunity for parents to take no responsibility. Why should they when extra money is coming into the house?  

The latest nonsense is that people who are classed as obese are entitled to disability benefits. Not only is the taxpayer helping overweight folk to eat, we (the taxpayers) are also going to give a reward to GPs who identify the ‘obese’ on their lists.

So, let’s sum this up. If you overeat your GP will class you as obese and therefore you will qualify for disability benefits.  Not only that but your GP’s practice will gain financially.  A win-win situation for those involved - except the poor taxpayer, once again.

Now that obesity is recognised as a disability, expect many more grossly fat people applying for all the relevant benefits while some elderly sit in their cold homes, too embarrassed to admit to anyone they can’t afford to heat and eat.

In the past 30 years I notice my principles and values are insignificant now. Soon they will be non-existant. A roller coaster which has good far too fast to stop.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Oh To See The Snowdrops!

The last few days have involved the freezing up of my combi boiler and I confined myself to one room and an electric heater. Access to the desktop would have required hat, gloves, boots and all the other paraphernalia associated with sitting in a room temperature of 5 degrees so I decided against being superwoman and stayed inside my wee room in a sweat-breaking temperature of 13 degrees.

This isn’t the first time my 6 year old combo boiler has frozen and my plumber assured me on Monday, when he visited, that the cause was only low pressure.  Within an hour of his departure it juddered to a halt again and his response was that a heating engineer would be needed. (My plumber is now retired after a heart attack before Christmas but kindly came to have a look.  He’s no longer qualified to deal with gas boilers.)

My young heating engineer arrived about 8pm on Monday night, had a quick look and said “It’s frozen but not a lot I can do in the dark”.  He managed to get it up and running but wasn’t too sure it would operate for long. He was right. It packed in again about 30 minutes later and no matter how often I attempted a reset it refused. Thinking I detected a whiff of gas I turned it off and escaped to the comfort of my electric blanket and a bed topped with as many of these throw things I could find. I knew these throws would come in handy one day!

Isn’t it strange how the mind plays tricks?  It was impossible to sleep even though I was warm but the air I was breathing was very cold. My attempts at mind over matter were futile.

To cut a long story short the heating engineer came late Tuesday afternoon and lagged the outside pipes with 6” ‘this is guaranteed to stand up to temperatures of -25’ material.  My boiler is drained externally (goes directly through the wall) and when it was purchased Worcester Bosch made no mention of the possibility of the external pipes freezing.  They didn’t mention it either when it happened the first time but they suggested the external pipes be increased in size. This was done and they were lagged by the then industry standard.

Now it seems the heating industry do not recommend these boilers be installed directly outside and should be drained through an indoor outlet.

In 6 years the guidelines for combo boiler installation has completely changed. Prior to buying mine I did do my homework and telephoned the two companies which I thought had a product which would suit my needs. Neither mentioned freezing problems or they weren’t suitable for outside drainage.  Both sold the extras for such fitting.  Both companies were told the external pipework would be on a north facing wall and where I lived. Both stated their products would be fine for my situation and I now know that’s nonsense.  Who tests these things?

Anyway, it’s humming away here and I’m now cosy. Surely it’s time for the snowdrops to raise their wee heads and show the start of spring?

John Swinney has made changes to his Land and Buildings Transaction Tax I see. Will his £325,000 cut off for the new 5% cause a bottleneck in property values?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Déjà Vu

Click to enlarge

Last week the latest Scottish Education Secretary, Angela Constance, said ‘raising attainment in schools was her number one priority’.  I do hope it is because what other priority would an Education Secretary have in parliament?

Her statement was a result of Ian Wood’s commissioned report recommending that employers play a far bigger role in schools and colleges.

Is this a sake of déjà vu?  How often have we heard the same result from the endless commissioned reports from ‘elite’ businessmen?  Has any politician taken on board the comments?  No.

The report recommends:
Enhanced careers education in primary schools
  • The opportunity to prepare for a modern apprenticeship in the senior phase of secondary school
  • more support for employers to take on young people
  • closer links between employers and schools and colleges
  • measures to improve gender balance in training
  • measures to remove barriers for young disabled people, care leavers and black and minority ethnic groups taking up training opportunities.
Unfortunately these recommendations don’t go nearly far enough.  Since I started this blog over six years ago, I’ve posted about the declining standards of education in our schools.

A radical overhaul is needed. Secondary modern schools need to be resurrected. We have too many young people forced into the ‘academic’ stream when they have little or no interest in many of the subjects.  Every child is forced down this path since the conception of these dreadful comprehensive schools which educators (awful modern word) and politicians thought would be the answer to the ‘class’ problem.  The ‘class’ problem was identified as one where children from poorer families were unable to attend local academies.  Of course that’s not true because many children did attend academies if their 11 plus results showed they had the ability to cope with an academic education.  In Dundee, those who ‘failed’ attended the secondary moderns which provided an excellent vocational education.

But this ‘segregation’ annoyed certain members of society and thus the ‘one size fits all’ - called comprehensives - arrived.  It was never going to be possible to fit every child into one school system and that’s the reason our standards are declining.  It’s nothing to do with poverty.  It’s to do with squeezing too much into one box and therefore having to slim down every article in the box.

I reiterate what I’ve said many times, we must reintroduce vocational schools for those children who have interest in vocational skills. It’s bordering on cruelty to have children sit in classes which have little or no interest for them.  Much better to discover their interests and allow them into a vocational school which can meet their needs.  Interest in anything is 60% of a positive result.

Having spent some time associated with formal education, my firm belief is that young people ought to be able to change from their comprehensive school programme to a vocational school around the age of 13 or 14, but no later.  If they’re left to fester in a comprehensive until they are 16+ then it’s too late.

If we don’t address this problem soon then Scotland will have a serious lack of engineers, craftsmen/women and other skilled tradesmen.  I know is my wee part of this lovely country quality tradesmen are worth their weight in gold.  My own (excellent) young electrician said he had nearly given up the idea of ever being an electrician because he was forced to learn subjects in which he had little or no interest.  He’s a smart lad who knew what subjects he required for his skill and worked hard at those, but was bored by many of the other compulsory subjects. 

He’s one of the lucky ones.  His family saw him through the rough patches at school.  But many young people don’t have supportive families and I think emotional poverty is as serious as financial poverty.

Yes Ms Constance, we do need standards to be improved, but do stop believing it can be done under one roof.  Let’s return to our academic and vocational systems and also let’s allow teachers to teach instead of being stand-ins for social workers. There are parents out there who need to begin to behave like sensible parents but that’s not the job of teachers.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Nine Myths About The EU

Over the years I’ve wobbled in opinion about Dan Hannan, but his recent article in Conservative Home is a definite must read.

Even the most pro-EU individuals cannot deny his sincerity.  You can read it here.

Friday, 9 January 2015


While France is still suffering the shock of Wednesday’s murders, most politicians uttered the usual statements of condolence etc., but none addressed the elephant in the room.

Most people love or loathe Nigel Farage. He was pilloried by all other UK political leaders on Wednesday for mentioning the presence of a fifth column within Western societies.  Why?  I too believe there is there is a small minority of people living in UK (and other Western countries) who are hell bent on destroying the culture and traditions of their host countries.  

They do this in the name of Islam and of course this reflects on the Islamic population. Rather unfairly all Muslims are tarred with the same brush - but the Muslim population cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand and neither can our political leaders. 'It’s nothing to do with me because I’m peace-loving’ isn’t good enough anymore. Every Muslim needs to become involved in rooting out the minority of radicals in their midst and reporting them to our authorities.

Some years ago Scotland’s football supporters gained a reputation for drunken and loutish behaviour.  They weren’t welcomed at matches overseas. Did the Scots who didn’t have an interest in football say ‘It’s nothing to do with me’?  No. They accepted responsibility as a nation/culture and pressurised politicians into action.  Today, because of intense action, supporters of Scotland’s football team are welcomed all over the world. 

Attitudes can be changed if our leaders accept there is a problem.  For too long we’ve been over-tolerant with those who abuse our country.  We’ve allowed the problem to be buried as we’re only too aware that if it was mentioned we would be labelled racist.  Strangely enough, since the exposure of the 1400 young girls who were groomed for sex in north of England towns, the racist labellers have been rather quiet.  No official heads have rolled as yet for that atrocity and that is, to say the least, shocking.

A change is attitude has to come from all peace and law abiding citizens, not just those directly or indirectly affected by this vile violence.

On the news last night I heard mention of our intelligence services and how poorly funded they are in comparison with other public services.  This needs to be addressed with immediate effect. They work hard, very hard, but with the threats of violence increasing rapidly more manpower has to be employed.  The Westminster government is happy to give the police service more funding to root out stupid remarks made by silly people on social networking websites but are failing to address our basic security.

I have no answers to this serious problem. Our freedoms have been gradually reduced in recent years to suit our reputation as being a tolerant society. Has our tolerance level reduced to soft-heartedness?  Many of my generation were brought up to believe in firmness and fairness. Maybe a return to such values are now impossible.

H/T to Frank for the video.
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