Canada on track to decriminalise cannabis to protect children

Canada will be the first G7 country to completely legalise marijuana use if the plans which are starting to go through parliament are successful.

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The prime minister Justin Trudeau made the promise to legalise it stating that by legalising it the drug could be better regulated, kept away from children and profits would be kept out of criminal hands. At the earliest the new laws will be passed by probably 2019. Until then, Trudeau has stressed that in the absence of legislation, recreational marijuana remains illegal across Canada. “Until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current laws apply,” he told reporters.

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Here in England cannabis is a Class B drug.  Other Class B drugs are: Amphetamines, barbiturates, codeine, ketamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones (eg mephedrone, methoxetamine). Being caught in possession of a Class B drug can bring up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Whereas being caught dealing or producing can mean up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

The Oxford Comma Proves SPaG is important

The ‘Oxford comma’ is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list:

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It’s known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by editors at Oxford University Press.  Not all writers and publishers use it, but it can clarify the meaning of a sentence when the items in a list are not single words:

These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.

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The Oxford comma is also known as the ‘serial comma’. Well in recent days the Oxford comma has come to the rescue of dairy workers in Maine USA who’ve argued that due to a lack of an Oxford comma they should receive overtime pay. Who knew that punctuation could play a major role in industrial action?

When you start playing around with the Oxford comma you realise that without it so much meaning gets altered:

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Perhaps we should all take our punctuation far more seriously…

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Exciting film awaits about Syrian Swimmer

Stephen Daldry, a famous director, has announced he’s working on a film about Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini.

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Mardini who was already a promising swimmer before she left the civil war in Syria travelled with her sister to Lebanon, then on to the Turkish port of Izmir, before  getting onto an overcrowded dinghy bound for the Greek island of Lesbos. But less than half an hour into their journey the motor stopped and the boat threatened to capsize: out of the 20 people aboard, only three knew how to swim: Yusra being one of them. For more than three hours, they did what had to be done, swimming alongside the dinghy, pushing, pulling and cajoling it until they reached land.

“I thought it would be a real shame if I drowned in the sea, because I am a swimmer,” Yusra recalls

She eventually settled in Germany, joined a swim team in Berlin and within months she was in Brazil, one of the 43 stateless athletes competing in Rio as the first ever refugee team. The film of her life is going to be both interesting in how it shows the escape from a war torn country as well as the determination of a young athlete aiming for swimming glory.

In class this week when discussing with Year 8 students what their human rights are we’ve mentioned Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

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Natural Family Planning

Contraception is the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation. It makes sense. Contra meaning against, and the end of the word showing conception. I am sometimes surprised when students can’t work that out in class. But maybe that’s because students don’t use the word contraception very often, instead just referring to a method of contraception: condoms. Well today in the news they are debating the accuracy of fertility apps being used by women to avoid getting pregnant, so as a method of natural family planning and contraception. It is based on the rhythm method (calendar method).

To use the rhythm method, you track your menstrual history to predict when you’ll ovulate. This helps you determine when you’re most likely to conceive. If you’re hoping to get pregnant, you can use the rhythm method to determine the best days to have sex. Similarly, if you’re hoping to avoid pregnancy, you can use the rhythm method to determine which days to avoid unprotected sex.

In PSHCE lessons we will be learning about relationships and sex education, and in Religious Studies GCSE students investigate topics like Infertility and Fertility treatment on the old AQA course and topic like Love, Marriage and Contraception on the new AQA course. So understanding the biology of conception and the menstrual cycle, as well as the facts about contraception are repeatedly useful to our learning.

Recently students in Year 10 have been learning about what religions say about methods of contraception:

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Time to Talk Thursday

What is Time To Talk Day? Time To Talk Day is a day to discuss mental health problems and raise awareness. It was set up four years ago (2013) in the belief that people talking and sharing their experiences can change others’ attitudes. It is organised by Time to Change, a campaign led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

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When is Time to Talk Day? It is on the first Thursday in February, which happens to be today! This year’s theme is Conversations Change Lives. We should all be interested in as mental health problems affect one in four people, yet many are reluctant to talk about them. Thirty-eight per cent of people with mental health problems say they’ve been negatively treated as a result of stigma so it is something nobody should ignore.

The charity Time to Change does a huge amount of work to help mental health and has some thought provoking videos which remind people to not laugh or joke about people’s mental health. Their website has advice on people you can contact if you’re experiencing mental health problems and need urgent support. At school you can speak to your form tutor, teachers and student services.

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Human Rights and Amnesty International

We’re lucky to have an Amnesty International Youth Group at school where students on Wednesdays after school in Room 8 can meet, discuss, learn and take decisive action on Human Rights issues happening all around the world.

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If you’re feeling that world events are spiralling in to a dangerous position of racism, discrimination and intolerance, perhaps a visit to the Amnesty group might allow you a place to safely voice your fears and learn how to take action.

One of the issues that Amnesty International‘s works tirelessly on is the treatment of refugees.  They do however also get involved in debates about any issue which affects human rights such as the death penalty, the Hillsborough disaster and North Korea.

 

Careers Advice

Last week there were students saying they wanted to be barristers (but weren’t 100% sure which A Levels would help them) and others who discovering they were doing AS Religious Studies wanted to know if that was a useful qualification or not.

I really great resource for discovering the plethora of jobs and careers available to you in 2016 is iCould. You can watch videos based on job type, subject or employers.

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