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Your thoughts on Lord Adonis tonight

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Eddie Mair | 16:57 UK time, Monday, 21 May 2007


  1. At 05:01 PM on 21 May 2007, Chrissie the Trekkie wrote:

    Whenever I hear that name, I get a mental image of Apollo from the Star trek episode 'Who Mourns for Adonais?'

    Does he look nice in a short Greek skirt?

  2. At 05:22 PM on 21 May 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Excerpts from the camstreams chat room whilst Lord Adonis was on.


    Fifi: Lord Adonis any time now, maybe after Harriet's cold...

    jonnie: yes I'm listening - poor Harriet

    Gillian: Here he is!!!!!!!!!!!

    jonnie: I'll go and listen

    jonnie: Yes he should have posted a comment on the blog

    Fifi: I'd have respected him a tiny bit if he had.

    Fifi: Nice one Eddie ... get the insults in quick!

    Gillian: Eddie's doing a great job of putting all the points across

    Fifi: Adonis sounds breathless and rather scared.

    Fifi: No, Eddie, BE rude!!!

    Gillian: Passing the buck........what a surprise!

    Fifi: So the reports from a tribunal matters more than the customers who use the service.

    jonnie: Good on you Eddie -- get him to respond on the blog

    Fifi: Too scared to go on the blog and face us then???

    jonnie: Sounds like it

    Gillian: Reading.....not responding, I bet

    Fifi: 'I'll read the comments, yes.' Pahhhhhh!

    Fifi: Slithery as luck, I say. (Actually, I am using

    Fifi Rhyming Slang again, sorry.)

    Gillian: We should all post a message demanding he responds!

    Fifi: I hope Eddie starts a new Adonis thread during the programme, so that we can.

    Gillian: He'll get his PA to post a Blog-release

    Gillian: I bet comments are already going on the Glass Box

  3. At 05:23 PM on 21 May 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    body swerve..left....body swerve...right...'snot me its the tribunal......i look forwards to......BUT NOT REPLYING...

  4. At 05:25 PM on 21 May 2007, Fifi wrote:

    That little creep won't answer to us on the Blog. At best he'll 'continue to read' it.

    I wouldn't believe that man if he told me my feet were on fire.


  5. At 05:35 PM on 21 May 2007, Rachel Wingard wrote:

    OK I'm really boiling now - Lord Adonis says he read all the comments from parents about the tosh he said last week about SEN Tribunal being free to parents. He still doesn't acknowledge that in order to get a fair hearing - it is NOT free.

    So Lord Adonis, please note - Tribunal panels want to hear evidence. They may be sympathetic to frazzled and desperate parents, but unless you can prove that your local authority have made some really obvious mistake, if you haven't got expert evidence to back up your views you will have NO CHANCE. So even if we take our chance representing ourselves against the pitbull terriers representatives of Local Authorities, some of whom will also pull in a solicitor or lawyer - parents will probably need to spend hundreds of pounds on getting independent expert assessments by Educational PSychologists speech and language therapists or others to back up their case. AND pay their expenses - more hundreds of pounds - to attend as witnesses at the tribunal hearing. And guess what, you may turn up with your expensive witnesses and the local authority can even ask for an adjournment so you have to pay all over again for your witnesses.

    I just hate this pretence of a fair system. Children are are losers.

    Rachel, a jaded parent of a son with autism

  6. At 05:39 PM on 21 May 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Lord Adonis, in case you read this thread on the blog, may I point out that if someone within industry had performed as you have on the last two occasions you've appeared on PM, they would be "considering their postion". To first deny there is a problem at all, then to basically pass the buck as you did tonight is not good enough. You are in charge of this departmental policy. The buck stops with you. The families that have commented here on the blog deserve a more complete answer than "If it ain'tt broke, don't fix it". I put it to you that the experiences of those on the blog show that the system IS broken. It is time to be clear, open and accountable to the electorate of the country. Oh that's right, I forgot, you weren't elected. However, you are a member of the government. You are responsible to us, the country.

    Mind you, I think you might just be waiting to see what happens in 5 and a half weeks' time. After all, if you can leave it for someone else to have to deal with, it's so much easier...

  7. At 05:41 PM on 21 May 2007, pc wrote:

    Without wishing to appear crude, it seems that the only responses the unelected Andrew Adonis is capable of when confronted with genuine criticism are: "Yes b******s" or "No b******s".

    Is there a problem with 'special needs' education? "yes b...". Will you respond to concerns as raised on the PM Blog? "No B...".

    Maybe the time has come to interview the man who has held the purse strings tightly in his clunking fist for the past ten years.

  8. At 05:45 PM on 21 May 2007, Lawrence wrote:

    I have just listened to Lord Adonis and his reply.
    I am quite clear that Lord Adonis is an expert politician. Any reasonable person having read the content on the PM Blog could not fail to be moved by the contents. Lord Adonis was unmoved by the contents of the hundereds of input on that blog.

    But let us just take Lord Adonis's position, let us keep the status quo. Let us not separate assessments and funding. But let us do one thing, let us enforce law.

    When SENDist makes an order the only enforcement agency is the DFES. According to their own information there is no specific person designated to enforce a SENDist Order. SENDist itself cannot enforce its own order. The DFES is not concerning itself proactively with enforcing SENDist Orders.

    Local Authorities deliberately delay implementing SENDist Orders as they know there is no consequence. Even when a parent goes to the High Court and has a Judicial Review and if that Judicial Review is in general supportive of the parents position and that the Council has not acted properly, the Council still has no specific consequence and can simply ignore the Judicial Review. The only consequence to a Council is then the Local Government Ombudsman Service which can review the Council for Maladministration.

    In general the Local Government Ombudsman (who are predominantly ex Chief Executives of Councils) very rarely serve a demanding instruction upon a Council. The Council is not obliged to follow a Local Government Ombudsman Order, although it is true to say that they nearly always do. And generally speaking if the LGO places a fine on the Council it is more likely to be £100 than a significant amount which may have an impact on whether the Council repeats its offence or not.

    Therefore if Lord Adonis were to ensure the existing Law was strengthened by a suitable accountability and consequence (an actual penalty against the Local Authroity and its Officers) then perhaps we could save the millions that are wasted in the SENDist process, the millions in the High Court process, whether it is through Council's defending their position and/or the expenditure some parents would have through Legal Aid Services and most of all the untold millions that are hidden in the family ordeals, hurt, stress and breakdown that very often ensues within the turmoils inherent where families have children within this significant range of educational difficulties.

    It is a matter of turning the current situation on its head, applying the current Laws properly and with due diligence and having robust scrutiny, none of which deliver accountability in the current environment.

    I hope Lord Adonis in his emphatic desire to maintain the status quo will maintain that status quo by applying the Law properly so that LEA's and the Officers become accountable to the parents should they not act with due diligence and in the spirit of the Law.

  9. At 05:47 PM on 21 May 2007, Tricia wrote:

    Lord Adonis the government is negligant, a tribunal is simply following government legislation. You also made reference to the Select Committee Report 2006, who have advised the government that this must be reviewed, as did the Audit Commission, as have Ofsted, as have teachers unions, to name but a few. Following publication of their report and the Government's response, the Chairman of the Select Committee made the following statement to parliament:

    "I am extremely disappointed with the Government's response to our report, as on a number of significant issues it does not accurately protray recommendations that we made. For example, we recommended that the link between assessment of needs and funding should be broken, and that any revision of the system overall should take this principle on board. In response, the Gvoernment claims that we recommended a new quango to deal with statementing, which we did NOT do, and then uses this misrepresentastion of our position to avoid engaging with other aspects of the report....

    ... the Government's failure to even consider changing the current statementing process is a real missed opportunity. Despite clear evidence that the process is not working as it should, the Government relies on the argument that 'no-one has a better alternative'. This is not acceptable. If the system is not working properly it is the Governemnt's duty to look for a better way forward."

    Mr Gordon Brown I hope you are listening? We all have a passion for education, especially when the current system doesn't deliver one for our children.

  10. At 05:56 PM on 21 May 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Argh! *Again* you put him on while I'm on the train.

    Chris The Trekkie (1):

    So that would make Eddie Captain Kirk? I can see that.

  11. At 06:10 PM on 21 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Lawrence and Tricia,

    I second both your observations and demands.

  12. At 06:20 PM on 21 May 2007, Pam Salts wrote:

    Lord Adonis stated that additional funds had been made available to authorities for SEN. This money often never reaches the children for whom it was intended. IF the LEA hands it schools, it is the Head's decision as to what this money is spent on. I worked with special needs children for many years in a unit within a mainstream school and often did not receive a penny of the budget that the authority had allocated, as the Head had spent it on other items that she deemed important. Perhaps SEN money should be ring-fenced.
    pam salts

  13. At 06:23 PM on 21 May 2007, Sue Gerrard wrote:

    Well done Eddie. Smart questioning.

    Incidentally, for Andrew Adonis' information (if he reads this) the key issue in SEN provision isn't access to tribunals - if the real problems were addressed we'd hardly ever need a tribunal. Here are my six theses;

    1. Children are promised an education appropriate to their age and ability. What they are offered is an education appropriate to the average ability of their age group. Variations in ability are inherently problematic to a curriculum-centered, age-standardised system.

    2. Class teachers receive little, if any training in special educational needs.

    3. The expensive one-to-one provision which LEAs try so hard to avoid providing often comes in the form of Teaching Assistants who often have little or no educational training.

    4. Specialist support for children, parents and schools is effectively unobtainable for all but those with the most severe needs. Funding for educational psychologists was halved last year, trainee clinical psychologists find it difficult to find paid posts (often working unpaid to complete the practical part of their training), and speech and language therapists and occupational therapists have ridiculously long waiting lists, often treating only children with serious difficulties.

    5. There is a perception amongst some educational theorists and teachers (and possibly some politicians) that children diagnosed with special educational needs do not actually have anything 'wrong' with them, in terms of a physical developmental problem, but that the origins of the child's difficulty are social or behavioural, and that 'labelling' a child with a medical condition is either a 'cop-out' or an 'excuse' depending on which view you take.

    6. The entire field of developmental disorders is a taxonomic nightmare, riddled with outdated theory and speculation and needs to be sorted out. Many cheers for the neuropsychologists with their scanners, who are pressing on regardless. The sooner education catches up with them the happier our children will be.

    i would be interested in Andrew Adonis' comments.

  14. At 06:45 PM on 21 May 2007, Pam Salts wrote:

    I was interested to hear that Lord Adonis suggested that more money had been allocated to authorities for SEN. However this money often does not reach the children for whom it is intended. As someone who has worked in a unit in a mainstream school for many years I was not allocated the funds, which would have been spent on specialist equipment. Instead the head teacher spent it on other items, presumably those that she deemed more worthwhile, including deficit budget. Perhaps it is time that specialist funding is ring-fenced.
    pam salts

  15. At 07:23 PM on 21 May 2007, Pat wrote:

    "Who Mourns for Adonis" (Classic Star Trek) is up there with "Metamorphosis"!!!

    If I remember rightly Apollo requires to be adored and worshipped by Captain Kirk's landing party (especially the beautiful girl, that Scotty is besotted with). The landing party fights back for their freedom and laugh at Apollo, who at first is angry, but then realises there is no place for gods anymore, to rule over men. He then sort of "casts himself on to the wind", and actually it's quite moving as he evaporates.

    There is a similarity in that Lord Adonis is full of wind too.

  16. At 07:40 PM on 21 May 2007, Catrin wrote:

    I was deeply saddened by the the comments made by Lord Adonis though it must be said totally unsurprised. Our experiences (albeit with the Tribunal system in Wales) were overwhelming, devastatingly stressful and very expensive.

    How a Minister can be advised that a childs family can go to Tribunal without representation is laughable. The first question at my childs tribunal was 'On what points of law will you be relying on today', how would I have countered that? The Tribunal was adjourned twice and even though this was solely the fault of the LA we still had to meet the addition costs of our representative and expert witness.

    The LA were obstructive, unhelpful and admitted that they were governed solely by financial constraints. How is this needs driven provision??

    The Minister needs to question his advice and his advisors, they are after all just that. Any system where the assessor holds the purse strings is totally flawed.

    I agree with others on the matter of ringfencing funds, without this these children can never be guarenteed any additional resource.

    Since finally securing the placement my son has flourished (fingers crossed for the future!), but it came at a huge emotional cost and six grand!!

  17. At 07:52 PM on 21 May 2007, Paula wrote:

    I would like to thank Pam Salts (no 14) for her comment.

    I was going to raise the point that many Headteachers just take the SEN money and instead of ring fencing it for that purpose merely add it to their budgets. But I have been concerned to raise this point because I felt I may have been opening the door for an adverse reaction, particularly from those Heads who would be claiming a different position. By someone in the profession stating this really happens enforces the fact far more strongly.

    When we were first discovering the difficulties that my particular Son was experiencing, the Head of that particular school was only interested in the League Tables and getting "the right result". His modus operandi was to declare the children with SEN as ill or absent when SATS were being taken (despite the child being at school) so no adverse results ensued and then through methods of what can only be described as harrassment and bullying trying to get the parents to remove the child from school or, as in our case, he attempted to create a case that expelled that child on behavioural/stress issues rather than, do what was required by the Law and identify the SEN/disability or assist the parent gain a proper assessment through the LEA.

    May I thank for her comment as I am sure there will be many other instances of this across the country.

  18. At 11:49 PM on 21 May 2007, Lawrence wrote:

    I would like to ask Lord Adonis a question.

    In his ministerial role where he seeks his professional information, I believe he said the SENDist Tribunal, has he ever asked the President, Lady Rosemary Hughes if she actually knows what the definition of a disabled child actually is?

    And I refer to Lord Levenson's summation April 2004 - Queens Bench Division of the High Court. It is my opinion, based on Lord Leveson's summation that Lady Hughes is not an appropriate person to be in the role in which she holds.

  19. At 08:10 AM on 22 May 2007, Earl E Inthyemorning wrote:

    Listening to the news and excerpts from parliamentary discussions on the objections to No Smoking signs in churches made me think. Couldn't they just add the message to those signs you see ouside most churches these days advertising the church cafe and tea rooms?

  20. At 08:51 AM on 22 May 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    This is a thread and series of PM interviews I have not been following, but it simply demonstrates the same problems as beset any issue where the government (local/national/Euro/UN/corporate) has decided what to do and has no interest in what its customers want. Their experience is brushed aside (and see Rachel Wingard at 5 for the resources trotted out by those in charge) in favour of paid "experts" whose sole function is to twist the facts in favour of the policies.

    Remember Mr. Blair's response to the e-petition about road pricing? "It's far away in the future." Today (Tues) we hear on the "Today" programmes that they are publishing a White Paper about Road Pricing...

  21. At 09:22 AM on 22 May 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Unbelievable - what a spineless man; not willing to engage at all with the discussion on any level. I should rise above personal statements but really how can such a person hold a position of such responsibility and show such complete disregard and lack of care for those effected by his decisions. I am shocked.

  22. At 09:29 AM on 22 May 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    This is getting to be a habit, I agree with Ed I. The SEN topic was worth more time and greater depth.

    Adonis did what you might have expected.
    Very little by way of straight answers.

    Blame the Civil Servants, don't take the blame for the department you are supposed to be running. FFred makes this point beautifully at (6).

    Being in charge means accepting responsibility for failures, although since there are *apparently* no failings here there cannot be anyone to blame. So why was Adonis pointing the finger at his officials for failings which do not exist?

    And let us not forget, the Civil Service exists to help the Government of the day put its plans into action on the ground. All the Civils do is what they are told by ministers, and that includes the LEA staff, the Tribunal staff, anyone employed or paid to do work by the state or any Governemnt department.

    Much prevarication.

    Sue G makes a direct and valuable point; If all SEN children were given the correct provision there would be no need for Tribunals in the first place.

    And the final sideslip when asked if he would respond to comments on the Blog. You know that his response was a well-aimed two fingers to everyone who commented on the Blog.

    He's got his income and his place in the Lords. *You lot* out there who don't like the shambolic system he runs can take a run and jump as far as he's concerned. He's not accountable to you, because he's not elected. He got his job, and his ennoblement, on wafer-thin qualifications for this particular role, because he's one of Tony's mates.

    So **Yah, Boo, Sucks** to you all.

    What a way to run a Government....


  23. At 09:37 AM on 22 May 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Just a thought. I wonder if 'Adonis' is Greek for Weasel?


  24. At 10:49 AM on 22 May 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Si (23) : From the online Compact Oxford English Dictionary ...


    • noun an extremely handsome young man.

    — ORIGIN from the name of a beautiful youth in Greek mythology.

    So I thought, perhaps we're not using the right definition of 'handsome':


    • adjective (handsomer, handsomest) 1 (of a man) good-looking. 2 (of a woman) striking and imposing rather than conventionally pretty. 3 (of a thing) well made, imposing, and of obvious quality. 4 (of an amount) substantial; sizeable.

    I give up. The man's a farce (FRS, oops). His name is a joke in poor taste.


  25. At 11:33 AM on 22 May 2007, Fiona wrote:

    Witchi - I totally agree with you (and everyone else by the way!) - I feel the same. You try not to make personal comments but how can you stop yourself? I was shouting at the radio in the car when listening to him. Spineless and clueless. We have to keep this issue alive, it matters so much and the sytem MUST change.
    Gordon Brown, come on down................

  26. At 01:00 PM on 22 May 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Fiona - yes, we must keep this going! I'm much aggreived when a story is given so much coverage and then gets lost somewhere...

    Sue Gerrard - are you actually involved with a charity/organisation? Is there something froggers can do to help? (either on a joint or individula basis)

  27. At 04:32 PM on 22 May 2007, Sue Gerrard wrote:

    Fifi(24) have a look at http://education.guardian.co.uk/policy/story for some background on AA.

    witchiwoman (26) sadly, no. I'm a former primary teacher and have a background in psychology, so I've been able to research my son's problems myself. I think I'm still in shock as to what happens to any child who has problems with school, 'SEN' or not. I'm involved with a local support group (half-a-dozen members) and a Parent and Carer's Council (under the umbrella of the Parent Partnership Service - LEA funded) but unfortunately, most parents of SEN children are far too busy trying to deal with the needs of their child and the problems created by the education system to be able to organise themselves. Julie Maynard, who was on the original PM feature, has been very active - don't know if she's reading this...

  28. At 06:38 PM on 22 May 2007, Lord Adonis wrote:

    Fifi -

    Your feet are on fire!

  29. At 10:26 AM on 27 May 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Person masquerading as Lord Adonis (28), so are your pants!

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