NATO Threatens Russia, “We are Rolling into A New Cold War”. Speech by Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization


Source: NATO Threatens Russia, “We are Rolling into A New Cold War”. Speech by Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

I resigned as a lecturer after the university did not fail social work students


Original post from Community Care

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A former social work senior lecturer details the on-going battle to maintain academic and professional standards amidst the marketisation of universities

Graduation ceremony (credit: REX/OJO s)
Graduation ceremony (credit: REX/OJO s)

Last week, after more than twenty years of university teaching, I handed in my notice and resigned from my post as senior lecturer in social work and course lead of a Masters in Advanced Practice.

I don’t have another job to go to and will, undoubtedly, miss the regular income and relative safety of a full-time, permanent post.

However, I won’t miss the twelve hour days, the working every weekend and the on-going battle with university managers to uphold and maintain the academic and professional standards required and expected on a social work degree programme.

In the end, it was this that finally did it for me, with one case of plagiarism in particular that tipped me over the edge.

This year at graduation, one of the final year students will be qualifying as a social worker having been found to have plagiarised on two separate occasions – once in a second year essay, and once in her final year dissertation.

One plagiarism case too many

While the university regulations are very clear about the punishment imposed for such a serious proven offence for the second time around (students should automatically ‘fail the assessment and fail the unit, with no right to re-sit’), this student has managed to successfully appeal on the grounds that such a penalty is unfairly harsh.

Joining her on the platform at the graduation ceremony will be two of her peers who have ‘only’ been subjected to a single academic misconduct panel having been found to have plagiarised just the once.

Standing behind them will be a further three students whose work was returned to me by the investigating officer and not subjected to the panel’s scrutiny, as their essays contained less than 20% of copied and pasted material from unattributed online sources.

If you’re a practitioner, this is the quality and calibre of the current crop of social work graduates coming to join a team or agency near you.

If you’re a service user, these are the sorts of individuals who might be acting as your care manager or key worker in the very near future.

How has it come to pass that on a course where values and ethics are embedded in the curriculum and the importance of openness and honesty are taught from day one, we have six out of forty-two final year students behaving like this?

How is it, on a University programme that has recently been approved by the HCPC and endorsed by TCSW, we are only able to initiate suitability procedures when misconduct relates to practice? (In the cases outlined above, proven plagiarism was judged to be an academic misdemeanour and therefore outside the reach of the professional suitability procedures).

Changing landscape

The problems, in my opinion, relate to the changing landscape and political context in which social work education has been taking place.

When I first began teaching in 1993, the social work programme was ‘full’ when the course had recruited thirty candidates. Seminars had no more than fifteen students in a class to maximise discussion and debate. Personal tutors had one group of between eight and ten tutees to support on placement, so that visits for the practice learning contract and interim reviews were manageable, given the likely travelling distances.

Since then, student numbers have increased dramatically while the numbers of full-time, permanent teaching staff have remained static. For example, in the department I have just left, we enrolled over eighty first-year undergraduates during last September’s induction programme with the same number of full-time, permanent staff (six) that we have had since the new degree began in 2003.

More students, same number of staff

Running in parallel is a thriving post-graduate / Masters pathway as well as a foundation degree in Health and Social Care:  both these new extensions to the portfolio have been designed, developed and delivered with little in the way of additional staff or extra resources.

What we’ve seen is a student to staff ratio that has steadily risen so that a seminar group of thirty students becomes, by necessity, more of a workshop. Personal tutor groups have doubled in size to at least twenty, so that supporting and visiting your personal tutees, when they are out on placement, is twice the work that visiting ten used to be.

If you are allocated two (or more) tutor groups, then it is a moot point just how ‘personal’ this important relationship can actually be (and just how many tutees you can logistically visit in the time that you have available).

Knock-on effect

The knock-on effect of this intense expansion has had a significant impact on weary academics. Lecturing to a large cohort requires a very specific set of skills and abilities, and holding the interest and attention of such a big group of diverse learners is no small task.

While the time taken to plan and prepare a lecture is broadly equivalent regardless of the size of the audience, the same cannot be said for the associated marking of students’ assessed work: it takes a lot longer to read, mark and write feedback on eighty essays than it ever did for thirty.

Increasing the number of people accessing higher education and implementing strategies to widen participation has changed the academic profile of the student body with a steep rise in applications coinciding with the introduction of the social work bursary.

While numbers may have recently settled, we can (and do) frequently accept candidates with much less than the minimum 240 UCAS points  (3 C grades at A-level) making the first year of study at university a challenge for many students who require specialist input and support from study skills and Student Services.

Mass market in education

But curiously, this does not seem to have a subsequent impact on the class of degree a student might hope to get, with eleven people on last year’s social work course receiving a first, thirty nine receiving a 2.1, eleven receiving a 2.2 and only one person getting a third.

In lots of ways it could be argued that what I am describing is just a sign of the times and reflects a wider pattern currently found in many teams, agencies and organisations where staff are being exhorted to ‘do more with less’.

However, the opening up of a mass market in education and the introduction of tuition fees has led to additional and competing organisational demands being placed on HEIs and academics.

“Universities are prioritising customer service and student satisfaction rather than upholding professional standards and providing a rigorous but exacting education.”

Many students, for their part, see themselves primarily as consumers rather than learners and have a profound sense of entitlement that if they have paid good money then they deserve a good degree.

The combination of these two forces – a demanding and vociferous student body who are quick to complain and litigate, and a squeamish management team who are more concerned about student numbers, generating income and ‘enhancing the student experience’ – make universities an uncomfortable environment for people like me to be working in.

Social work educators, desperately trying to raise the capacity and capability of the workforce with no support or understanding from university managers, are buckling under the pressure of maintaining ethical, practice and academic standards whilst simultaneously absorbing extra work.

Research output dwindling

It is no longer feasible – if indeed, it ever was – for social work academics to ‘do a little bit of everything’. Colleagues who have been research active in the past have seen their output dwindle; colleagues who traditionally have been more focused on teaching and supporting practice learning have seen their workloads doubled.

Partners in practice (on hourly-paid, fixed term contracts) previously contributing to the teaching programme perhaps by facilitating a seminar or two, are being asked to front up ‘open days’, take on additional marking and are given the ‘opportunity’ of delivering core units and heavy admin roles like induction.

Something has to give and, sadly in my case, I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer be part of an organisation that both ignores and forgives plagiarism, actively supports the inflation of degrees and changes their own rules and regulations to enhance the overall pass rate.

Wipe the slate clean

This summer for example, a student who fails a final year unit can effectively wipe the slate clean, re-take all their units – even the ones they have successfully passed – and start again as if for the first time. In other words, if an individual has the funds and/or is prepared to extend their student loan, the university is more than happy for them to buy an additional year of study.

I don’t think for a moment that my ‘naked resignation’ will make much of an impression on the organisation I have left behind and certainly won’t stop the students graduating who I have concerns about qualifying as social workers.

However, there is some small comfort in knowing that I am no longer contributing to the further erosion of professional and academic standards or colluding in a system that does not understand the importance of gate-keeping the profession.

I also realise that, ironically, my decision to leave is compounding the problem further…

You can join our Stand up for Social Work campaign by:

Changing your profile  picture   ……………’

The Seed Of Honesty


Honesty is the best policy

Madamsabi's Blog

An emperor in the Far East was growing old and knew it was time to choose his Successor.

image

Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.” The Youths were shocked! But the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here after one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor!”

One Man named Munna was there that day and he, like the others, received a…

View original post 523 more words

Progress overview: 2 years since Francis


An extract

‘Here is an overview of action taken by the Government in response to the failures at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.  ……….’

Original post from Compassionate Care Blog

This is a start which needs to be actively encouraged and not be allowed to fail.

Only time will tell if this is sufficient.

New laws for more open and safe care in the NHS


New laws for more open and safe care from Department of Health

An extract ‘Two new important laws to help improve patient safety, transparency, and leadership in the NHS come into force today.

The first is the statutory Duty of Candour, which places a legal duty on hospital, community and mental health trusts to inform and apologise to patients if there has been a mistake in their care which has led to significant harm.  ……’

‘……..The second new law relates to ensuring strong and safe leadership in healthcare organisations. Under the new regulations, all NHS board members will be required to undergo a Fit and Proper Person’s Test before they are appointed.  ……’

For more information follow Fit and proper persons requirement and the duty of candour for NHS bodies*

It would appear that this is welcome news, which may be long over due, but will it make a difference. Only time will tell, for, no matter how much legislation is created, if the organisations do not abide by it, then will there be any difference. Will the monitoring by CQC (Care Quality Commission) be sufficient? Are the new laws robust enough? For as stated in the Duty of Candour ‘.. a mistake in their care which has led to significant harm.’ why not all mistakes, whether there is harm or not?

We do need to trust the NHS, which currently we may do or not. But if we did not have the NHS we would all be far worse for it not being there.

 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

Truth and Respect


Just what is truth and respect, we hear these words mentioned in all areas from time to time, but what is the truth and do we show or have respect and do we trust.

From an early age we are informed to respect authority and to trust the Police. Now we are told no one respects authority and there is no trust in the police. So why has there been a change over the last 50 years or has there been no change, but people are now more honest about their feelings. At this early age the children are also expected to trust and respect their parents.

When I was at school some 50-60 years ago it was assumed we respected the teachers, but was fear thought to be respect. The teachers were the power and should not be crossed, as they had the punishments to deliver if you did cross them. Is that they way to have or gain respect, no you fear for what could and can be done to you. This fear is no longer there, as the punishments of long ago have been withdrawn and the pupils of today know they can do virtually anything and will not receive any punishment. This lead to large-scale disobedience and can have devastating consequences as could be seen from recent news. Teacher stabbed to death in Leeds, while this may not be a direct result in punishment removal and the no respect or fear of teachers, it is a product of what is occurring today.

Then we have the Police, this was, only a few years ago, a profession that the majority respected and looked upon with pride and trust. While there were always the occasional stories of corruption, this was isolated persons in particular forces. Now we have Hillsborough, possibly Orgreave, Stephen Lawrence and others. This is not to say that the police are corrupt, but a minority of the officers may be, but it is the manner in which these investigations and others were handled that leaves a door of mistrust open.

The NHS, this is one of the great institutions of the UK, being that it provides health care, free at point of delivery for all eligible persons within the UK. But there have been many issues, one of which is Mid Staffs. This is where there were many unexplained deaths and the extent of a cover up.

One of the biggest scandals and is still current is the child abuse allegations and Jimmy Saville and others. Here questions are still being asked about the conduct of the BBC, various hospital, including Leeds General InfirmaryBroardmoor , Stoke Mandeville and many others, CPS, Police and some child care homes.

Now Cyril Smith which again bring in, what appears to be child abuse, police investigations or no investigation and politics. Was this known at Westminster, by his own party; the Liberals  or any of the other parties or any MP’s and if it was, were there cover ups?

The mention of politics and MP’s brings in the expenses scandal, where certain MP’s were accused of claiming expenses they were not entitled to and some were prosecuted and many had to pay back the expenses they should not have had. Then we have certain persons in Parliament and Government who may not have always been truthful, this causes Tony Blair  to be mentioned his’weapons of mass destruction‘ is but one example of limited truth.

But can one believe anything a Politian says, have you observed when they are in interviews and are asked questions, have you ever seen or heard one politician answer any question directly.  In most cases the response will be superbly diverted to the response they wish to give, which in most cases has no bearing on the question being asked.

The expenses scandal was found out by media investigation, but recently the media has had its own scandals with the phone hacking, the parliamentary review and the convictions.

So many of the UK institutions have recently been found to be not telling the truth and then, does that lead to the non-respecting of these institutions, for many the answer will be yes. This, of course, does presuppose that they were, in fact, respected previously.

So how can these institution and the persons within them be seen to be trustful and then maybe respected. I believe it starts with them being  open, honest and transparent and at least one MP says he will MP Craig Whittaker. There are also a number of  NHS Hospitals and NHS organisations who have taken this on board, some being NHS England, The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustSalford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, but there are also others.

This is most likely following Jeremy Hunt, The Health Secretary, asking NHS Hospitals to have an open and honest reporting culture and there is a Government Press Release* on this subject.

The proof, however is yet to come and we shall see where the open, honesty and transparency will be, for it is one thing to have put the deed on paper, it is another task to deliver it by action.

For trust has to be seen to be forthcoming from all UK organisations and the people within and then, and only then, will the respect be being earned. It is then for each individual person to decide are they being given the truth, so that they can commence to trust and possibly then, in time also respect.

 

*Open Government Licence v2.0