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UN moves to compensate the victims of terrorism

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Baaba Maal guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 May 2012 15.49 BST


Things are different now from when I was a student in Paris in the 80s. Not very long ago, you absolutely had to have your passport with you at all times, because at any moment you could be stopped by the police. If you didn't have it on you, you were in a lot of trouble.

It is important for the second and third generation of children of immigrants who were born in France to be part of the system: to be included, to be able to get work, not excluded for having the "wrong" name or the "wrong" address, which is the case at the moment.

France is not a divided country, but it is often confused. How does France remain French, at the same time as being global? France sometimes doesn't know whether it should be looking to the past or to the future. Sarkozy was about the past, and old France.

Marine le Pen of the National Front got such a strong vote in the first round because of the people who were disappointed by Sarkozy. But all the talk of immigration by both of them was wrong-headed and confused. Immigration and religion are not the same issue.


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Schools 'face talent drain' as morale of teachers dives

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 May 2012 21.30 BST

The pressure on teachers includes tougher targets, a new Ofsted grading system that threatens the current rating of most schools, reduced flexibility in qualifications for the teaching of 14- to 16-year-olds, and the possibility of regional and performance-related pay.

Many teachers have also complained of dilapidated conditions in the schools they work in.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, said that people who had been privately educated dominated every level of society.

The shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, who initially supported Wilshaw's appointment, told the Observer there was now a clear problem with morale in state schools and that building up the status of teachers would be a Labour priority in government. He said: "I think it is really important that there is public confidence and parental confidence in our schools system. When Wilshaw was appointed to Ofsted I was positive and I met him and I want to remain positive, but I was very disappointed by what he has said last week. There clearly is a problem with morale and that is primarily a consequence of negative things coming from the government. A drip, drip of denigration by the government of the profession will undermine confidence of our schools among parents."

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Schools 'face talent drain' as morale of teachers dives

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 May 2012 21.30 BST


Gilbert said she believed that the standards of teaching in the UK were "excellent" and should be celebrated. She said: "I started in the 1970s and I think teaching has never been better. I think teachers are far better, far more professional than when I started."

Labour intends to draw lessons from the system in Japan, a country that is regularly among the top world rankings for reading and numeracy, where the position of teacher is held in significantly higher esteem and newly qualified teachers can wait up to a decade to get a placement, such is the competition. The system is also peculiar for the amount of time that teachers are given to do research and develop their skills and lessons together.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Thousands of teachers are doing a good job, often in challenging circumstances. We're undertaking a major reform programme to raise standards in our schools, and teachers' skills and experience are vital. We all want to raise standards so that the education our children receive is world class."

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'Give us a little more respect,' demand stressed-out teachers

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 May 2012 21.55 BST

Wilshaw has suggested that 5,000 headteachers are failing their children. And he has proposed surprise "dawn raids" on schools, a tactic that heads say displays a lack of trust. Meanwhile, his equally blunt boss, the education secretary Michael Gove, followed him at last week's conference at Brighton College with a soliloquy on the "sheer scale, the breadth and the depth, of private school dominance of our society". The message was that state schools had to catch up, or else. Gove has told teachers they are in the "firing line" unless they make sure pupils behave and succeed, suggesting there is a culture of low expectations.

A new survey of 17,500 teachers by the largest teachers' union, the NASUWT, reveals a startling level of unease in classrooms across the country. A third of teachers (34%) don't feel respected as professionals, a quarter that their classroom expertise is not valued, 77% have experienced more workplace stress in the last year and nearly half (49%) have considered leaving the profession. Brian Cookson, 61, a geography teacher speaks: You know I quite often feel I am at the bottom of someone's shoe when I speak to parents now and I have never ever experienced that.

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'Give us a little more respect,' demand stressed-out teachers

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 May 2012 21.55 BST


Wilshaw believes that Britain's schools have "tolerated mediocrity for too long". The UK is ranked 25th in the world for reading, 28th for maths and 16th for science, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). "Considering the investment that the UK makes in education, considering it is an advanced economy, the UK should be doing better", said Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's special adviser on education who has been previously praised for his work by Gove. But he adds that there is one key factor that makes an education system successful.

"The quality of an education system can never exceed the quality of its teachers," he said. "And basically if you want to get the best people into the teaching profession, if you want to attract bright people into the profession, you need to offer them something and that something is associated with status. The status of the profession is of fundamental importance. The teaching job has become much more demanding. We expect teachers to personalise learning rather than teaching everyone in the same mould; we expect them to take over the functions of family. The stress often comes from teachers feeling left alone."


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'Give us a little more respect,' demand stressed-out teachers

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 May 2012 21.55 BST

Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary, today will pledge to bolster the status and quality of teachers should Labour get back in power in 2015. He points to the example of Japan, where the role of teacher is sought after and held in high esteem. Along with South Korea, Finland, Canada and New Zealand, Japan is one of the top performing countries in education and newly qualified teachers can take up to a decade to find a placement. In Japan teachers work for their local authority, which decides where they teach and moves them every three to five years to enhance teaching at a school that may be in need of help and to improve professional practice by providing new challenges. There is little or no competition between schools for pupils but constant collaboration to ensure lessons are of a high enough standard. Teachers are encouraged to spend time researching and practising together to refine lessons in a process known as Kounaikenshuu. The government is hands-off. There are no national tests until the end of secondary education.

Twigg points out the contrast. David Cameron's recent suggestion that children should stand up when their teachers walk into a room may have its merits but surely, Twigg says, it is up to the professionals to make those decisions.

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UN moves to compensate the victims of terrorism


Toby Helm, Tracy McVeigh and Emma Craig

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 May 2012 21.12 BST

Groups set up to support victims and the bereaved have welcomed the progress that is being made.

The report comes after a four-year campaign by the family of Mumbai bomb victim Will Pike, 31, who was left disabled. Along with other British victims of the Mumbai attacks – and of those in Bali, Turkey and Egypt – Pike was left without financial help to cope with his injuries.

Few states outside western Europe have satisfactory compensation systems, including the US, although Washington did set up a special scheme to compensate 9/11 victims.

The report will say that full and effective reparation should include, as appropriate, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation.

It also says states should consider whether to legislate to prohibit the sale or marketing of life assurance policies that contain an exclusion for deaths that result from acts of terrorism.

In the UK, victims of terrorism can apply for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. Payments range from £1,000 to £500,000. However, while the UK has a system in place, survivors of the 7/7 attacks have complained of long delays.

In April this year, the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, set out details under which the UK government would make ex gratia payments to victims of terrorist incidents which take place outside the UK. These range from payments for minor wounds such as tendon injuries (£2,500) to quadriplegia, which would qualify for a payment of £250,000.


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