Tags:
  1. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK

    UK Writers to boycott school visits

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Banzai, Jul 16, 2009.

    A group of writers in the UK have announced that they will stop making visits to schools, to give talks to pupils, etc, in the wake of a new government scheme. The scheme would require them to register on a database and be vetted, for child protection purposes. They would also have to pay £64 to register.

    Authors including Phillip Pullman (author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, amongst others) and Anthony Horrowitz (author of the Alex Rider series of children's books) have hit out against it, and announced their intention not to take part.

    If you want to read more, you can do so here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8153251.stm

    As I see it, there are two equally valid sides of the argument.

    Firstly, these people are being forced to pay, in order to feed a paedophilia paranoia. I agree that there is a lot of scaremongering over paedophilia in the UK (I'm not sure if it's the same in other countries). The media paints a picture of child abusers lurking around every corner, which is unrealistic and untrue. Also, this scheme is damaging the potential value that pupils would gain from visits by the authors. I know if I'd had a visit from one of those authors when I was in school, I would have been thrilled.

    On the other hand, a similar vetting process is required for all other people working with children. The CRB checks were introduced a few years ago, and yes they have caused a lot of extra chaos, but they do serve a valuable perfect. And should these people really be exempted from the rule? That said, everyone else doesn't have to pay for the privilege of a criminal records check- it's paid for by the (potential) employer.


    So what do you think?
     
  2. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    I had to pay for my background check when worked in daycares and schools. But with authors, I really don't see it as the same thing.This is typical overkill with schools, like the rule of having a totally nut-free environment, regardless of the number of kids with alergies or how serious said alergies are.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Lot of good it does, jusging be the neverending flow of educators coming up on charges.

    Visitors aren't the problem anyway, it's the heavy breathers who find ways to work with children on a day to day basis.
     
  4. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,081
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    What does vetted mean?
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    To vet someone is to perform a detailed background check, usually to make sure there is nothing there that will professionally embarrass either the subject of the vetting or the person or organization considering an association with that person.
     
  6. Gannon
    Offline

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    3,977
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    If this became policy then let the schools pay. £64 for an hour of Phillip Pullman - sounds like a bargain to me. Either that or allow such checks to be performed free of charge - this is a public service, no?

    Oh, and vetting, as you may know (sarcasm difficult to detect in webland), in this scenario, means to appraise someone's credentials against a proposed action - here the confidence that said someone will fulfill their obligations without resorting to unsuitable or frown-worthy behaviour. This could include a detailed background check as Cogito says, including affiliation with unsavoury organisations and types, but would most likely in this scenario focus on prior criminal activity.
     
  7. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Precisely. The writers are saying that there is no history, or even suspicion, of this having happened.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    By the way, the term veting seems to derive from the veterinary examination of race horses before a race to test for drugging, steroid injections, etc.
     
  9. Malc-Downing
    Offline

    Malc-Downing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    north west uk (near liverpool)
    Back in 1991 (ish) my school had a visit from the author Nigel Hinton (Beaver Towers series) since that day i have always wanted and loved writing. Schools need to have visitors to give lectures, not just authors. But a large range of professions and hopefully it will get these children to sit up, take notice and say 'i want to do that'.

    i think children need to be inspired about things, i only hope that the govenment and school groups figure that out aswell.
     
  10. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Agreed. Up in the north, we never got anyone interesting at our school- but the principle remains.
     
  11. Malc-Downing
    Offline

    Malc-Downing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    north west uk (near liverpool)
    oh i wasn't up north then, i lived in east sussex.. i have never... NEVER! heard of any writers visiting a school in the north, with exceptions to giving talks in library and halls, and most of the time this is in school hours or late night when children can not visit.

    shame on schools and shame on the north south devide.
     
  12. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,617
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    Well, at least political correctness has nothing to do with it. I suspected it as soon as I read 'in the UK.' But something altogether more stupid is, the same philosophy that had the cactus advert taken from television because it implied rape, the same philosophy that made schools use fake eggs to paint on because of an imagined risk of...something they didn't bother to explain. It's not quite as ridiculous as those other examples, but it is equally ridiculous in that the government is attempted to improve GCSE grades.

    But I'm in Gaelic-medium education, so I don't really care. Usually these new government schemes can do nothing north of the border, and by the time they reach the Highlands and Islands they're almost useless.

    I am about as far north as you can get on the mainland, though, and lots of authors and poets have came to my school.
     
  13. ChaseRoberts
    Offline

    ChaseRoberts Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Dundee
    Our school had Ally McCoist and Blyth Duff visit... I think they were related to students at the school. So useful if you aspired to be a footballer or an actress...

    I've seen Christopher Brookmyere twice, Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin. They come across at various literary events going on in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee. I would seriously recommend authors visiting school children and think it's a shame they are being denied the opportunity because of some useless beaurocracy which, lets be honest, doesn't keep the nuts out anyway, if you look at current and past stories about teachers being done for attempted murder, and janitors murdering school kids.

    I tell a lie though: our english teacher became an author, got published and left after success that saw the televisiation of his book. It was, oddly, and completely unrelated to, the first acting job I got was in the television series of his book.

    He was really cool, and used to give me pointers on writing. And he gave me a first edition of his book, signed, but my mother gave it to a charity shop one day because she felt like having a 'tidy out'. :(
     
  14. CDRW
    Offline

    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,532
    Likes Received:
    27
    It's not going to make that much of a difference anyway. Schools stopped being a place for inspiration long before most of us were born. Any kid who wants that is going to have to go somewhere else to find it.
     
  15. sophie.
    Offline

    sophie. Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2009
    Messages:
    1,054
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    England
    I think it's bollocks, and they are doing the right thing. Health and safety has gone mad and it should be stopped....It's ridiculous they have to pay to prove their innocence. We have only had one (as far as I know) relatively well-known author into our school, I missed it, and this stupid charge will just put them off. Arghhhhh, sod bloody health and safety, those idiots in charge should just leave everyone alone, or credit people with a drop of common sense. *rant over*
     
  16. Ashleigh
    Offline

    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Messages:
    4,186
    Likes Received:
    143
    Location:
    In the comfort of my stubborn little mind.
    I think if an author who is passionate about his work makes an effort to even bother going to a school to talk to students in his free time then it should be seen as a bloody priviledge!

    It's ridiculous that they're trying to charge people for doing something that frankly they deserve to be paid for, if anything. After all, it's not doing them any favours - they're helping the children, in their own spare time. I don't know what they're thinking by putting this rule into practise, but someone has made a very, very stupid decision here.
     
  17. WashingtonIrving
    Offline

    WashingtonIrving Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Scotland
    The problem I have with media outrage about this kind of thing, the sort of vapid opinion piece decrying our government for subjecting x or y to such and such a tedious process, is that the media are in a large part responsible for the culture in which such checks have become necessary. Iif the media didn't go into overdrive whenever a paedophile manages to gain access to kids then there wouldn't be such a complicated process in place to ensure that paedophiles can never gain access to kids.

    This is really just a result of a culture in which for any tragedy somebody or some group of people must be held accountable, and so a chief job of government becomes to make sure that under no circumstances can a tragedy occur. Hence ridiculous systems of checks.

    In essence, all of this is a necessity of a culture that we (that's the general 'we', I'm sure we're all sensible people here) have ourselves created. What is the general rallying cry after any child abduction/abuse/murder case? 'We cannot let this happen again'. Hence a culture of risk-aversion.

    I'll stop here as I keep on repeating myself, but this really, really makes me angry. And I don't often get angry.
     
  18. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,617
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    Things that will be banned by Gordon Brown's government (guess the real ones):

    1. Standing too far away from the urinal whilst relieving yourself.
    2. People over the age of sixty having a cup of tea in public.
    3. You will no longer be allowed to fly national flags over fears that they may cause an unnecessary burden to be placed on any structure they stand against.
    4. School ties, shirts, trousers, and shoes. They may be fashioned into sub-machine guns by criminals.
    5. Going out in the rain without walking boots made by a government-approved producer of such clothing.
    6. Running in school playgrounds.
    7. Using slides in school playgrounds.
    8. Playing in school playgrounds?
    9. Toilet roll tubes in public.
    10. Any liquids in schools, offices, etc. that are not in containers or cups that are placed in a holder or on a desk where they cannot be knocked over.
    11. Wet grass is banned on school fields. The problem there is that we are in the UK.
    12. No handling of cellotape and other useful classroom or office things without protective equipment, including safety goggles
    13. Ban on football. Not Gaelic football, the other one.
    14. No eating in schools.
    15. No dogs anywhere near council estates. Apparently your aunt's little terrier is going to be absolutely brutal, since he's just had the snip, and will pick up a crowbar and club old ladies with it at any opportunity.
    16. No welcome mats. People might slip.
    17. Memorials to people who've been stabbed or killed in road accidents.
    18. Walking more than one dog, cat, hamster, etc. at a time as they might...umm...
    19. Fat.
    20. Fireworks. At fireworks night.
    21. Long beards on Santas.
    22. Wearing jewellery whilst at work.
    23. Using sun-tan cream in schools.
    24. Not using sun-tan cream in schools.
    25. Carpenters using brooms.
     
  19. Seppuku
    Offline

    Seppuku Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire, UK
    I can see why it's introduced, they're concerned for people's safety, though I don't see why you have to pay money for one. The 'paedophile fear' in this country I think is getting a bit silly - I've been by my school and it's fenced off like a freaking prison and the media doesn't help.

    The thing I'm less worried about actual paedophiles than being labelled or seen as one.

    I can see both sides of the argument, but the problem is 'paying' for CRB checks and I can see their point, "having to pay for a certificate that says you're not a paedophile".

    I'm just thinking as I'm now co-running a Storytelling group at our University, we're wanting to do workshops in a few local schools, for 'community' projects we can get up to £700 for funding, but we don't know how many want to get involved yet, but for 10 people we'd be spending £640 just for CRB checks (unless it's cheaper if you do it as a group) and we have other things to pay for, like transport and material and it seems to be a waste to spend that much. They can take anything up to 6 months to do - though it's quicker if you doing through a business.

    So that's my only beef with it. ;)
     
  20. SonnehLee
    Offline

    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Messages:
    6,112
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Far away from home
    Agreed.
     
  21. OrdinaryJoe
    Offline

    OrdinaryJoe Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The blackhole of the United States
    Seams a bit over zealous. I don't imagine that these authors are locked away in private rooms with these pupils. I would think they are in front of a whole class while giving a presentation. Not a very high chance of someone trying to molest a kid in plain view of a whole group of kids as well as their teacher.
     
  22. Seppuku
    Offline

    Seppuku Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire, UK
    I'm thinking back to my work experience in year 10 where I was working in a Primary school, okay I was 15 and CRB checks probably aren't needed for 15 year olds, but I think we had CRB checks available then (we're only talking 5 years ago), I was working with the reception class and most of the time I was there I was under the supervision of the teacher. Whenever we had guests at our school, there were always teachers present - for both primary and secondary school. I think CRB checks should be relevant to people who are supervising children or anybody employed be a school or a creche or anything like that - wasn't the Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman case related to a school cleaner? Not guest speakers who could easily be under supervision by the school? When you think about it, your guest writer or any other guest for that matter is perhaps less likely to do something dodgy than the parents, because if they're more likely to be spotted for suspicious activity, surely?

    I personally wouldn't mind getting paid for the schools project we might be planning as opposed to getting funding from an organisation. ;)
     
  23. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    Personally I think it is a good idea. You never know what kind of person you are letting into the schools these days. The world is full of sick and perverted misfits, just because they are writers, doesn't meant they are safe to be around our children.

    Why criticise the education systems for trying to keep your children or yourselves safe? Seems pretty damn stupid to me. I'd be encouraging this kind of thing, just because I want to know that my children are safe when I am not there to make sure they are safe.
     
  24. Seppuku
    Offline

    Seppuku Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire, UK
    My issue is not so much the 'check', but the fact you're paying for it, or at least that's a problem for me, okay, it's one payment, but not one everybody wanting to do some work in schools can afford - especially when you're a group of students.

    I don't personally believe a child is less safe when somebody is supervised by the teachers, because any move made by the guest can be witnessed and then all it takes is for one phone-call to the police, and the guest is buggered, for life. The CRB check would really only be appropriate for anybody who has to supervise or can be found alone with children, teachers are all CRB checked and so are the cleaners and that's where the danger is.

    In one respect the CRB check system can is perhaps flawed (at least by how I understand it), because it doesn't mean for certain that the person who has one isn't a paedophile either. How easy is it for somebody who doesn't have any questionable background, who may decide to offend to get a CRB check? So it would still be ideal for guests to be supervised in order for children to be safe. So to me, for the child to be safe from guests, they need to be kept an eye on, whether or not they spend £62 for a certificate.
     
  25. Seppuku
    Offline

    Seppuku Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire, UK
    Sorry to bump a 2 week old thread, but I was reading a magazine with the news of this in today and thought some points raised might be helpful and I'm not as annoyed as I was after reading it, because I've had a few misconceptions about it.

    The £64 fee is for those who are paid for their visits, volunteers have to pay zilch (this is good for me) with the new scheme and it replaces the CRB check and other lists. This will be from November 2010. It's only required if you visit schools more than once a month. So it isn't so bad.
     

Share This Page