IoS letters, emails & online postings (4 November 2012)

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Many children's lives are saved and many more children's lives enhanced by the intervention of social workers and those in the voluntary agencies ("New Gove plan aims to attract elite to social work", 28 October). The casual demeaning of this work by suggesting that "elite graduates" are fast-tracked into the profession, where they can stay for all of two years, is indicative of the easy stereotyping and negative attitudes towards social workers that make their profession so widely criticised.

As for linking Gove's announcement to the Savile scandal, Jimmy Savile was not able to serially sexually abuse children because of a failure by social workers, but because so many who could have stopped him turned a blind eye.

A Unicef report in 2007 rated the UK lowest in a league table of 20 OECD2 countries for child well-being, and little had changed in its 2011 report. When we stop demonising our vulnerable children, start taking responsibility for them and respecting their rights, then children will be safer, social work will be valued and society will be better for it.

Veronica Grant

Cwmbelan, Llanidloes

While it is essential that social workers have good intellectual ability, they also need to be compassionate and have authoritative communication skills, qualities not exclusive to the best of Russell Group graduates. Vulnerable children deserve better than having to rely on ill-thought-through but high-profile special schemes which at best will have a marginal impact and at worst undermine the changes already in train.

Philip Hoare

Senior lecturer, applied social services Worcester University

During 20 years in childcare, what worked in child protection was multidisciplinary teamwork and support, professional commitment and resources. It took years to establish the fruitful networks, including police, around the Inner London Education Authority. ILEA was becoming an effective counterweight to childhood need and family deprivation, but it was a shameful casualty of the Thatcher/ Livingstone spat. What let us down repeatedly was the legal system, and the Child Protection Service and its obfuscations.

Ann Kutek

London SW6

If ever there was a job where running a home and raising children counted for more than a degree, it is social work. That graduates, with their huge debt and unhoned life skills, should be thought fit to support impoverished households in trouble, only shows how little Gove knows about the reality of life for countless families.

Kathy Fields

Groombridge, East Sussex

The Rommel family still defends the reputation of its wartime general ("Row over film that portrays Rommel as more rat than fox", 28 October). Yet Rommel called Hitler his "sun lamp", and developed only a passing involvement in the plots of 1944 as he disagreed with Hitler's later military decisions, not his other policies. The plotters envisaged an army dictatorship which would have traded occupied Europe in exchange for a ceasefire allowing them to focus on fighting Russia. There would have been no democracy or Nuremberg trials. Some hero.

Ian McKenzie


All the London television critics seem to bewailing the end of The Thick of It ("Tucker's no more...", 28 October). Why? Am I the only one who finds in the cold, cruel, cynical attitude much that is wrong with today's television? This repulsive stuff is too self-regarding to be proper satire.

Geoffrey Darmon


The creature with which you illustrated Jane Merrick's article "How do-gooders threaten humble bee" is a hoverfly, not a bee (28 October). Hoverflies are good mimics – it's a trick intended to fool birds, small mammals and picture editors. The figure of £20bn given as the value of "bees" to the British economy does not specifically refer to "hive bees". Bees are not the sole or even major pollinators of our crops. If the £20bn quoted is the value to the British economy of crop pollination, I would claim that flies (the two-winged Diptera, such as hoverflies) can claim a similar value. The one in your picture is clearly helping to pollinate a flower.

Darwyn Sumner

Bulletin editor, Dipterists Forum

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