Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Organic (ie low additive) food is healthier

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The latest research on food additives, published in The Lancet last week, strongly reinforces the argument that organic food is healthier (most of the 290 additives allowed in non-organic food, including all artificial colours, the subject of the research, are banned from organics). Artificial colours in food worsen behaviour and attention span in children.

Full details of the study ‘Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial’ are available here if you register, free, with The Lancet.

I see that as a result even the Food Standards Agency has modified its additives advice somewhat (though it does not go far enough for me).

The most serious form of ADHD affects between 2.4 and 5% of the UK population

Academies: education/child focussed or a business deal?

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Both Labour and the Tories are keen on schools becoming academies. I’m certainly not, as I’ve written before, in relation to Hengrove. Schools should be set up and run in the interests of children, parents and local communities and not private individuals, businessess or religions. Consider the latest news on academies in Bristol - Are we talking about education , children, parents and community here, or a business deal??

The Bristol Evening Post reports that Christian charity Oasis Trust, founded by Rev Steve Chalke, has confirmed it is interested in turning Portway School in Shirehampton into an academy. In South Bristol Oasis is already due to take over what is now Hengrove Community Arts College, transforming it into Oasis Academy Hengrove in a year's time.

The Post says, One major complication for any potential sponsor is that Portway has already been rebuilt under a private finance initiative. The construction firm HBG has a 25-year deal to run the school premises and its associated community facilities. This means that although the sponsor would not have to contribute to the cost of a new building it might not have the same control as it would under the usual academy arrangements.Several organisations have looked at the possibility of taking over at Portway, among them another Christian group that runs schools, an offshore banking group and a further education organisation. But these schemes have not been pursued.Some observers say the Government does not think a privately- sponsored academy is viable at Portway because of its dwindling numbers. For this reason, there has been talk of including some primary sector schools in an academy "package."

Sounds like the primary focus is not education, children, parents and community – but is a business deal - to me. And didn't they try to put together a primary/secondary 'package' in Hengrove which the local people vigorously and successfully opposed?

The Post goes on ..Rich Williams, who was the National Union of Teachers' representative at Portway, said: "There seems to have been one mistake after another in the past few years over schooling in this area."It would be better and cheaper to invest in smaller classes rather than pushing for an academy."

Spot on Rich Williams – this is what we need to invest in, not academies. Smaller classes are key to good quality education.

People in Shirehampton would like to see more community involvement returned to the school, which has been run by an appointed interim executive board instead of a governing body for more than two-and-a-half years.

Spot on the people of Shirehampton – community involvement is key to good quality education and neighbourhood quality of life. But its not what we are getting from the big political parties.