Our legal system has gone no madder than it ever has been (which is pretty bad) - our education system has.
The Tories saw fit to introduce league tables which the next lot of Tories did not see fit to withdraw as a pile of sh*te. They just present the results the pupils get at the tests. Brilliant kids (=selective) in, brilliant results out.
It's like comparing a casualty unit at a cottage hospital with a hospice. The mortality rate when stitching up gashed knees and bandaging sprained ankles is rather lower than for a place dedicated to the care of the terminally ill. However, everyone knows how healthy the people going into the places are so they make allowances when comparing the statistics.
At the schools, they don't do that. They don't say 'we've got all these kids with IQs of 50 up to grade F GCSE, which is better than the school down the road that took in a mob of Einsteins and managed to dumb them down to grade B'. They just compare the grade Fs with the grade Bs.
My daughter is being given 'coaching' for her upcoming SATs. She's eleven. A few days ago I heard her explain to a chap of 18 who had spent five years at grammar school (yes, a selective one) what 'incantation' meant, because he didn't know. The reason she's being coached isn't for her benefit at all. It's for the school's league table position.
The legal profession is a haven of sanity by comparison.
Burglary, or mugging, or joyriding and setting fire to the car or just about anything.
This sentence is a disgrace. This teacher recognises what everyone except the government can see - the league tables and SATs are a load of bunkum and the test results are, for almost all purposes, useless.
When will politicians learn that, to be successful, they need to sit on their hands and do as little as possible? The more they interfere the further down the pan the country goes. But no - they want their little bit of fame in the hallowed halls of history. They want to be able to point to their little private, pet bit of legislation and say "I did that!" so their grandchildren can say "Oooh, Grandad, really?"
I hope he gets out on appeal - I am sure any lawyer worth half his salt will put one in pronto.
League tables and SATS may well be a typical New Labour 'judge things by appearances not by actuality' bit of spin. But they are in place, and cheating to get better resuts for your school simply means that other pupils at other schools get undeserved worst placings.
Teachers are supposed to be 'professionals' and are in a position of trust which is difficult to police. To betray that trust is an extremely serious thing to do, hence, I suppose, the custodial sentence.
It sends the correct message to other teachers who may be thinking of doing, or may actually be doing, the same thing.
League tables and SATs aren't a New Labour thing, they're a Conservative thing. New Labour's only crime (in this parTICular case) is not binning them the instant they got in.
We bleeding heart liberals always say, 'look at what drove the criminal to commit the crime'. Then again, I haven't been burgled but my children's education is getting the heave-ho every day.
The perpetual danger with any kind of system for measuring performance is that everyone optimises to the measures. Thus the children don't spend all year actually, you know, learning things; they spend a good part of it preparing for (IMHO) meaningless tests.
This is a classic example of a deterrent sentence. This man systematically and over time forged results, thus bringing the whole system into disrepute. As a professional he should have known better. Custody was inevitable, but the judge kept it down to the minimum possible - the man will be out in about six weeks, so the point has been made.
Well, in that case I look forward to "deterrent" sentences being made available for judges to put away a few burglars, muggers etc. whose frequent offending, non-custodial sentences, community care orders etc. bring the entire legal system into disrepute.
I don't think custody was inevitable. Certainly a possible disposal, but not inevitable.
U_R This is not a "classic example of a deterrent sentence". I wasn't there, so may be wrong, but I'd be amazed if he said he was passing a "deterrent sentence" at all. On your 'deterrent' point, don't you think the mere fact of seeing another headmaster losing his job, his career ending in disgrace, being taken before a criminal court and ending up with a criminal record would be enough to deter other misguided teachers from doing the same thing however devoted they are to their school?
I'm not sure what you mean by "the judge kept it down to the minimum possible." If all you mean is the general principle that all judges pass the minimum sentence which can be passed relative to the crime (unless they expressly pass a sentence longer than the offence itself merits) then I agree.
Again, I'm not sure why you think the fact he'll only serve half (six weeks) is relevant. I don't think someone of previous good character who's not grown up in the company of criminals will see it as 'only six weeks.'
"I look forward to "deterrent" sentences being made available for judges to put away a few burglars, muggers ........ etc." In exceptional circumstances, burglars and muggers may not be sent to jail, but the circumstances have to be truly exceptional. Judges 'put away' burglars and muggers every day of the week.
Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 8th Mar 2003 at 23:08.
The deterrence is in the fact that the sentence was one of custody. I would not have been surprised if it had been suspended, but it wasn't. It was, by any standards, short.
"On your 'deterrent' point, don't you think the mere fact of seeing another headmaster losing his job, his career ending in disgrace, being taken before a criminal court and ending up with a criminal record would be enough to deter other misguided teachers from doing the same thing however devoted they are to their school?"
Substitute another profession for headmaster, and as you know it happens all the time. If loss of job, disgrace, and the rest of it always averted custody nobody would ever go to jail. What's good enough for a plumber is good enough for a headmaster.
The Judge said:
" Judge Keith Simpson said the case was so serious that an immediate custodial sentence was required. “If others were to act in a similar fashion then the whole system would be immediately and utterly destroyed.
“It must be made plain that this was something that, however well-intentioned, did very much more harm than good. It has undermined the children and undermined the school to which you were devoted.”
I agree with the learned judge and with the rest of your remarks, for what it is worth.
Last edited by Unwell_Raptor; 9th Mar 2003 at 19:18.
What's goodenough for a plumber is good enough for a headmaster.
Here's what another learned judge said:
"If someone is jailed they will lose their job and possibly their house, their wife and children will suffer and the state will have to pay. Weekend jails allow someone to keep their job, and thus provide for their family but they lose their leisure time. So instead of being at the football he can go to prison." Mrs Justice Rafferty
U_R I stated as a fact, not opinion, that the sentence imposed in this case is not a "classic example of a deterrent sentence." My only concern was that people might be misled by your earlier post. I'll try to explain: Fact: Unless the Judge considered that the offences committed by the defendant were "so serious that an immediate custodial sentence was required", it would have been wrong in law to impose a custodial sentence. ie If the offences taken together didn't satisfy that criterion, then the Judge would not have been entitled in law to pass a custodial sentence as a deterrent to others who might be tempted. Opinion: Judge Simpson is far too experienced and competent to make such an elementary blunder.
(The words 'so serious that ..... etc' were first introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 1991. Judges are required to make the declaration in open court whenever they impose a custodial sentence to make it clear they have considered the statutory test. This Judge did so.)
"If others were to act in a similar fashion then the whole system would be immediately and utterly destroyed." That simply explains why the Judge thought the defendant's conduct was "so serious" - it does not mean he passed a deterrent sentence. "I would not have been surprised if it had been suspended sentence" I would have been - because none of the exceptional circumstances in which a suspended sentence can now be imposed existed here. "It was, by any standards, short." We've been down this road before. "By any standards" is a meaningless expression. If you mean in your opinion the teacher's sentence was short for what he did, fair enough. It's a matter of opinion. "If loss of job, disgrace, and the rest of it always averted custody nobody would ever go to jail." Firstly, I don't think that's true. Many criminals haven't got a job, have no intention of working and don't feel the least bit disgraced by being prosecuted. Secondly, I didn't suggest such factors should always avert custody. "What's good enough for a plumber is good enough for a headmaster." I couldn't agree more.
Hope that helps.
Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 10th Mar 2003 at 19:48.
I think he deserved to be punished for what he did but there were other ways in which he could have been punished which would be a lot more productive and do more good for society than locking him up in a prison cell. I think it would have been far better if he'd been made to perform unpaid work doing 'community service', It would have put his talents to good use and done some good for society which locking him up doesn't.
Unwell_Raptor You're unbelievable. We have an experienced barrister going to the trouble of explaining how the system works, and where you're making a mistake and you 'disagree' with him.