This interview with David Bell, the whistleblower who sounded the alarm about the Tavi’s Gender Identity Development Service, is a powerful & important piece of journalism by @MsRachelCooke in today’s Observer. A couple of thoughts prompted by it...1/6…
1. The parallels between Bell’s treatment &treatment of whistleblowers in other NHS hospital scandals like mid-Staffs & Morecambe Bay is alarming. It’s an old story: people sounding alarm on terrible practice in medical profession get bullied in an attempt to silence them. 2/6
2. Maternity & baby death scandals show ideology (“natural” birth is better) have no place in medicine. The story of GIDS is ideology-driven medicine on steroids. Dissenters silenced/moved out, meaning this bit of medicine becomes a self-reinforcing ideological enclave. 3/6
Who loses out as a result? The children treated by GIDS. It’s perhaps not ideal for these issues to become regulated by the courts- it’s a blunt instrument. But when the medical profession fails in its duty to self-regulate, things will end up in court. 4/6
All those who tried to silence David Bell and others who flagged concerns about GIDS - labelling them “transphobes” - are responsible for this ending up in the courts. They prevented a discussion about what’s in children’s best interests. 5/6
Here was our Observer editorial on the landmark Keira Bell v Tavi/GIDS High Court case last December. 6/6…
One more piece that may be of interest: I wrote about what happens when ideology like natural birth ideology infects the practice of professionals - and what happens when people try to challenge it - here.…

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More from @soniasodha

10 Feb
This is a shockingly bad piece by Neil O’Brien. It conflates legitimate journalism with disgusting racist abuse on Twitter, and that a Black journalist doing her job bears some sort of responsibility for the latter.
O’Brien reveals an appalling lack of understanding about anti-Black racism and how it manifests here. This is absolutely *not* the point that was being made about Patel trying to silence a Black MP from talking about her experiences of anti-Black racism.
O’Brien makes a common mistake here: he assumes non-white people can never be racist. But there’s eg a long history of anti-Black racism in the East African Asian community. I wrote about this - and why Patel was indeed gaslighting Flo Eshalomi - here.…
Read 4 tweets
24 Sep 20
Couple of qus on the unfolding uni saga...

1) If you couldn’t ensure regular mass testing available on campus why get unis back this term, as unpalatable as not doing so would have been? Getting 100s of students to self isolate or trying to limit their movement is worse?
2) Wouldn’t it have been better to focus on distance learning for the first term/semester and give students a fee rebate for the whole of first year?

(It would require provision for young people and mature students who couldn’t live at home eg care leavers.)
This would have been really awful for a generation of young people already failed by A level saga, but is it better than having to self isolate in box rooms in halls for weeks? Feels like govt should have at least asked these qus.
Read 6 tweets
18 Aug 20
The A level fiasco has exposed the craziness of a system where - for no good reason - we think it’s absolutely key to sort a BBC and a BCD student into different universities. Why? My column:…
A levels may be v g at ranking the ability of young ppl to take an exam in any given day but is that really the be all and end all when it comes to their ability to do well at a job or university?
As ppl like @Samfr & @daisychristo have pointed out though other ways of ranking - teacher assessment, coursework - also have problems with reliability.
Read 10 tweets
17 Aug 20
This is what I would do with university admissions if the plan is to revert to teacher-predicted grades were I in government (there are legal issues but I think every potential solution has legal issues?) (1/4)
1. Lift cap on admissions for 2020 and allow universities to determine their own intake numbers.

2. Ask most selective/over subscribed unis to prioritise young people from disadvantaged backgrounds for entry based on teacher-predicted grades. (2/4)
3. Ask them to allocate remaining places for this year by lottery. Those unsuccessful in lottery can opt to defer or go to insurance offer.

4. Fully compensate those less selective unis that as a result can’t fill places. Expensive but fair. (3/4)
Read 4 tweets
15 Aug 20
All universities should just agree to admit all young people who they have made conditional offers to, based on their teacher-predicted grades. (The idea they can reliably select the best candidates on the basis of a UCAS form or an interview is anyway a bit of a myth.)
It would do absolutely no damage to the system whatsoever and would be right and fair for a cohort of young people who have already been royally screwed over by the pandemic.
This piecemeal uni-by-uni approach is very unfair as it means a young person's chance of making their uni if their results have been downgraded is arbitrary, and it is understandably causing awful anxiety for young people.
Read 4 tweets
21 Jun 20
Coronavirus is the biggest threat to child wellbeing in a generation, yet the government appears to have no plan.

Here’s our 8 point plan at the Observer for protecting children and young people from the worst impacts of the pandemic. (1/x)…
1. Government block purchase of nursery places esp in deprived areas to prevent nursery closures
2. Proper plan to get all children back to school full time in September including restoration of funding to 2010 levels
Read 10 tweets

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