2 Ofsted |
8. When she gave evidence to us on 13 October last
year we asked Professor Jay, "Do you think Ofsted failed
the children of Rotherham?" she replied, "To some extent,
Jay's Report gives more detail.
· In December 2009, following a critical
report rating Rotherham children's services as 'inadequate' on
the grounds that the safety of children could not be assured,
the Department for Education served an improvement notice.
(We learned subsequently that the inspection that triggered the
intervention had followed a "very narrowly focused two-day
and that the notice did not mention child sexual exploitation.)
· In July 2010 Ofsted conducted an inspection
of safeguarding and looked after children. Safeguarding services
were deemed to be 'adequate' in their overall effectiveness and
capacity for improvement. The partnership between children's social
care, the Police and the voluntary sector was described as carrying
out effective and creative work to prevent sexual exploitation,
with cross-agency training.
(At that time, however, child sexual exploitation
was still going on.)
The Jay report continues:
· In December 2010 Ofsted published its
Annual Assessment of Rotherham's Children's Services. The report
acknowledged the work that had been done to bring about the improvements
which had been required by previous inspections.
· In January 2011 the Department for Education
removed Rotherham's children's services from Government intervention.
· In November 2011 Ofsted's Annual Children's
Services Assessment took place. The Council was commended for
having invited a peer challenge team to review its safeguarding
· In August 2012 Ofsted rated Rotherham's
child protection services as 'adequate' commending 'significant
9. Subsequently, Ofsted supplied us with a table
summarising the overall grades of its inspections from 2006.
||Date of inspection
||16 Sep 14
||19 Nov 14
||02 Jul 12
||10 Aug 12
||10 May 11
||09 Jun 11
||Not graded, but included areas for development
||19 Jul 10
||27 Aug 10
||19 Jul 10
||27 Aug 10
||04 Aug 09
||04 Sep 09
||Not graded, but included areas for priority action
||2006||10 Oct 06
||Grades were given for:
Local services overall
· The five ECM outcomes
· service management
· capacity to improve
· capacity to improve
· children's services
· education services
· social care services for children
Health services for children.
All judgments were good
|· Adult Learning Inspectorate
· Audit Commission
· Healthcare Commission
· HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate
· HM Inspectorate of Constabulary
· HM Inspectorate of Court Administration
· HM Inspectorate of Prisons
· HM Inspectorate of Probation
10. On the face of it the Ofsted reports show an
underperforming authority with intermittent improvement. The actuality,
however, was that at least 1,400 children were being systematically
sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. As Miriam
Rosen, from Ofsted, told us: "the main problem was that at
the time we did not have sufficient understanding about the scale,
scope and nature of child sexual exploitation".
But the nature and scale of the exploitation at Rotherham was
known by the victims and their families and within the Council.
a) Risky Business, a youth project, had noted
problems since the late 1990s: it would refer to children's social
care any young person who gave rise to serious concerns and might
require statutory intervention, it was part of the Council's Youth
Services and one of its main functions was the provision of training
to voluntary and statutory agencies working in the field, to magistrates,
the Police, schools and foster carers.
In her report Louise Casey described its approach in reaching
out to victims and in collecting evidence about perpetrators as
"ground breaking" and pointed out that it "constantly
and relentlessly shared what [it] knew [and] produced maps which
showed the places child sexual exploitation was happening, wrote
reports on the victims involved, and drew on national evidence
to draw attention to what was happening in Rotherham [and it]
met with social workers and police to pass on relevant information
about individual cases".
b) There were seminars for elected members and
senior officers held in 2004-05 which presented the abuse in the
most explicit terms and after these events, Professor Jay said,
"nobody could say 'we didn't know'".
Why did Ofsted not detect and
expose Rotherham's failure to address child sexual exploitation?
11. We asked why Ofsted had failed to notice the
seriousness of the problem of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
We identified several reasons.
12. First, Debbie Jones, currently in post in Ofsted,
said that "we inspect according to what are the published
frameworks of the time".
Ofsted had designed its frameworks
and they "examined processes [...] systems [and] strategies".
This approach had inherent weaknesses as Professor Jay told us
had no shortage of policies, procedures or plans.
There were mountains of them, but the weakness was that nobody
checked whether they were being implemented, or indeed whether
they were any good.
13. The first
weakness in Ofsted's approach was that it relied on the appearance
of, and paperwork describing, Rotherham's systems rather than
the actuality. It did not effectively check the policies with
practical examples that could demonstrate evidence that the policies
14. Debbie Jones accepted that Ofsted did not "spot
the scale" of child sexual exploitation.
She also explained that "in the [...] frameworks there was
probably an over-reliance on [...] focus groups, where you would
meet with a group of professionals who were used to talking to
inspectors and were trained in talking to inspectors"
and that they were "not necessarily reaching those parts
that needed to be reached".
15. This approach had the effect of missing the "ground
breaking" work carried out by Risky Business. As Louise Casey
the strengths of Risky Business were actually
considered weaknesses within [Rotherham Council]. The contribution
that the youth workers made was not properly appreciated or valued.
They were not accorded the professional respect given to social
Too often, the information they gleaned was ignored
and not acted upon. [...] Risky Business and those that established
it, supported it and worked alongside it had, in the course of
a decade, gone from a progressive and innovative project to one
that was marginalised, reshaped and eventually closed down.
It was "very clear" to the Casey Inspection
team that here was a professional jealousy of youth services by
social care. In addition, the Report found this "lack of
understanding of child sexual exploitation in Children's Social
Care meant they got the law wrong, and they got the practice wrong"
and that the
issue of professional boundaries was reinforced
by a lack of understanding-deliberate or otherwise-about the type
of information gathered and held about the girls and the perpetrators.
The information that Risky Business had was deemed 'not good enough'
by both social care and the police. Information they passed on
was often discredited.
16. The second
weakness in Ofsted's approach was that it relied on what the officers
at Rotherham told it. These officers do not appear to have passed
on the concerns Risky Business raised about child sexual exploitation
and Ofsted does not appear to have probed beyond what it was told
and it failed to penetrate the professional jealousy and incompetence
that distorted the operation of Children's Social Care in Rotherham.
17. Debbie Jones stressed that the "frameworks
that we had at the time were developed according to the policies
and the issues that were of concern at the time [and] they did
not focus on child sexual exploitation".
John Goldup, formerly a senior official at Ofsted, explained that
before 2012 the focus had been on "child sexual abuse, which
is primarily a thing that happens within children's homes"
and "the effectiveness [...] of local authorities' response
to the abuse of children and neglect of children primarily within
the home, which is [...] where the vast majority of child abuse
We did not understand the scale and scope and
prevalence of child sexual exploitation up until 2012 [...] I
do not think we understood that it was something that almost certainly
affects thousands of children all around the country, and it could
be happening in any local authority [...] our understanding of
child sexual exploitation up to 2012 was limited.
By the end of 2012, we were inspecting for child
sexual exploitation in a very different way. We needed to improve;
we needed to learn. We did not get it right at the time we inspected
18. The third
reason is that the 'frameworks' used by Ofsted in inspections
from 2007 to 2012 relied on an approach narrowly focussed on structured
processes that did not include enquiry for, or into, organised
child sexual exploitation.
19. Michael Hart, also a former senior official at
Ofsted, stressed that he had no responsibilities in respect of
child sexual exploitation.
He told us:
My title was Director, Children (not Director,
Children's Services). This involved responsibility for the inspection
of Early Years, CAFCASS, and a range of Social Care remits (children's
homes, fostering services, adoption services, residential boarding
schools etc). The inspection of local authorities' overall provision,
including safeguarding, was the responsibility of another division
of Ofsted, though of course the teams for these inspections included
input from one of the Social Care inspectors employed in my division.
When he gave evidence to us Mr Hart explained that
he had responsibilities for inspecting the fostering service and
the adoption service.
20. Commenting on the 2007 reorganisation of inspection,
when inspection of children's services came to Ofsted, Mr Hart
said that it took
[at least most of 2007 and 2008] for a change
of culture and ethos, from what was [...] predominantly an education-focused
inspectorate to one that took on a much wider brief. It took most
of the time while I was there, in a sense, to settle the social
care inspectors into this larger organisation, and, indeed, the
other way round as wellfor the education part to recognise
what was joining themand to look for the potential joint
working across the two.
Education inspectors were mainly concerned initially
on areas of achievement. They began to recognise that areas such
as safeguarding were equally important. There was lots of training
that went on to make sure that they also took responsibility for
that within their inspection regimes. Similarly, the social care
inspectors needed to understand the importance that education
21. We accept Mr Hart's description of his responsibilities
and how Ofsted was operating from 2007. What it shows us is an
organisation turned in on itself, while a major reorganisation
bedded in, and an organisation operating in distinct silos. The
result, it appears to us, was that evidence of child sexual exploitation
in, say, an education service would have been neither detected
nor passed to those inspecting social care.
22. Mr Hart's
evidence leaves us with a picture of Ofsted as an organisation
in 2007 and 2008, and probably later, that was culturally and
operationally functioning in impenetrable silos. This regrettable
situation is the fourth reason why the noticing or exposing of
organised child sexual exploitation in Rotherham was hampered.
23. John Goldup told us that some of the inspections
of Rotherham were short¯for example, a two-day unannounced
inspection of contact referral and assessment arrangements in
2009. We cannot see
that such an inspection was going to uncover the nature or extent
of child sexual exploitation.
24. The fifth
reason why Ofsted failed to notice child sexual exploitation in
Rotherham is that its inspections were too short and narrowly
Changes from 2012
25. Changes gathered momentum in 2012. John Goldup
explained that the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group
on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults in June 2012,
the article in The Times by Andrew Norfolk in autumn 2012
and the report of the deputy children's commissioner in November
2012, which estimated
that 16,500 children were at risk of child sexual exploitation,
"fundamentally transformed our understanding of the scope
and the extent and the prevalence of child sexual exploitation".
26. Debbie Jones explained that the framework was
altered in 2012 with "increased focus on the journey of the
child" and that as well as data Ofsted looked at
soft intelligence and hard intelligence; we will,
most importantly, look at front-line practice; we will track a
significant number of cases; we will sample cases; and, in areas
where we know that there are particular issues around child sexual
exploitation, they will get more of a forensic look.
Ms Jones told us that "only under our current
framework with the focus that it has got, are we likely to identify
the scale and the extent," but she added a caveat that she
could not give "any guarantees".
27. Ms Jones also explained that the changes went
beyond alterations to the framework:
Now Ofsted works within a regional structure
I, as regional director in London, have access not just to the
information from social care, but I hear what happens in schools.
That is really important, because some of the very good work that
we saw was happening in the schools space, in the work that is
being done to prevent and to raise awareness.
She added that inspectors "will speak directly
to those on the front line, as well as to the young people, parents
and foster carers"
and "we talk extensively to children".
28. The Local Government Association (LGA) told us
that it had reservations about these revised arrangements:
The new Ofsted regime, which has been presented
as an improved framework and much more likely to pick up signs
of child sexual exploitation, largely ignored the role of elected
members in challenging [within] the system and in community leadership.
Councillors represent their communities and reflect different
perspectives, making important contributions to the work of the
29. The recent
changes which Ofsted has made to the inspection regime appear
to be an improvement, though the Local Government Association
has voiced concern that the role of councillors in challenging
within the system has been ignored. We recognise Ofsted's assurance,
albeit with a caveat, that the new arrangements, which are both
broader and deeper than those before 2012, should not let child
sexual exploitation such as that in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxfordshire
and other places slip by undetected. We have, however, a lingering
concern that Ofsted is still a reactive organisation that will
only detect known problems, and that it will not be the body that
identifies the next, as yet undetected, class of serious failure.
The interpretation of Ofsted's
30. In the period we examined down to 2013, Ofsted
judged local authorities using the terms 'outstanding', 'good',
'adequate' or 'inadequate'.
The term 'adequate' has caused confusion. John Goldup made the
point to us that: "Ofsted did not say at any point that Rotherham
was serving its children well".
After the improvement notice had been served in 2009, Ofsted inspected
Rotherham in 2010 and Mr Goldup said "that sufficient improvement
had been made to re-grade the authority as 'adequate', although
significant weaknesses remained".
This meant that the "weaknesses were not sufficiently serious
to keep the authority in intervention", though he stressed
that he was not involved "in any way, shape or form"
in the decision by the Department for Education to take Rotherham
out of intervention in 2011.
Miriam Rosen took a broader perspective and was "very sorry
that some of [Ofsted's] reports perhaps gave a false reassurance".
31. While concluding that all inspections, including
Ofsted's, had "essentially failed the children of Rotherham
in relation to child sexual exploitation", Louise Casey made
the point to us that Ofsted "had repeatedly told [Rotherham]
about weaknesses and failings that they did not listen to".
She drew attention to a chart in her report that listed concerns
that she found in her inspection and also showed when and how
frequently they had appeared in the past. We reproduce the table
|Area of criticism
||Date(s) of inspection report
|Lack of vision, leadership and effective management
||2000, 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014
|Personal development reviews and supervision
||2002, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
|Core assessments for children, procedures and timeliness
||2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
|Concerns re teenage pregnancies
||2006, 2008, 2014
|Weaknesses in social care management/safeguarding
||2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014
|Plans, pace, not embedded
||2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
|Confused governance, too many groups, confusion and increased risk
||2009, 2011, 2013, 2014
||2009 (x2), 2011, 2012, 2014
|Social care capacity/resources/prioritisation
||2009 (x2), 2012, 2014
||2009 (x2), 2011, 2014
||2011, 2012, 2014
32. Notwithstanding this catalogue of concerns, Ofsted,
as we have noted, rated Rotherham's child protection services
in August 2012 as 'adequate' and commended it on 'significant
improvements'. We consider it significant that, when Martin Kimber,
then Chief Executive of Rotherham Council, gave evidence to us
in September 2014, he described the 2012 assessment in the following
In August of 2012, there was an Ofsted inspection
of our services that indicated to me, amongst a whole range of
things about our safeguarding activity, that our [child sexual
exploitation] services in particular were regarded as being strong
and appropriate for looking after children. In the context of
the information available to me, I believe that I took the most
relevant and appropriate steps.
33. Debbie Jones told us that "we have raised
the bar and the 'adequate' grade would [now] read 'requires improvement'".
34. We conclude
that Ofsted's rating of 'adequate' was ambiguous and open to misinterpretation.
To Ofsted, it meant that improvement was required and we welcome
Ofsted's redefinition and clarification of the meaning of an authority
assessed as falling into this category. To a person unfamiliar
with Ofsted's methods of operationsand this could include
councillors carrying out the vital work of scrutinising their
officers and servicesthe term could be represented or interpreted
as meaning satisfactory. Rotherham appears to have gone a step
further and interpreted it as indicating a 'strong' performance.
35. The disparity between Rotherham's interpretation
of Ofsted's reports and what Ofsted thought it was reporting was
brought into even sharper relief by Debbie Jones's expectation
of what should happen after an inspection:
I [...] know from my own personal experience
the level of challenge and scrutiny that leaders and lead members
give their senior officers. Certainly that is what I experienced
in the authorities that I worked in, and I did not just work in
I think it is important [...] that councillors
and senior officers also have their own [follow-up] mechanisms
36. In our view Debbie Jones's statement is entirely
reasonable and a classic statement of the position of the inspector/auditor
and the inspected/audited. The problem in Rotherham was that it
was dysfunctional in respect of child sexual exploitation and
in denial about its shortcomings. Louise Casey found there was
a "culture of clinging onto anything positive within [Rotherham
Council] and not facing up to the truth of the situation,"
and on inspections:
The Council does not use inspection to learn
and improve. Members are overly reliant on officers and do not
challenge tenaciously enough to ensure improvements. Meeting and
action plans are numerous but unproductive, with a tendency towards
37. Nor was there any external pressure on Rotherham
to tackle the deficiencies identified in inspection reports (as
summarised at Table 2). Professor Jay pointed out to us that Ofsted's
continued again and again to refer to the same
issues coming up: lack of monitoring; inadequate supervision;
the absence of sound information systems, etc., but they did not
seem to demand any direct and sustained improvement take place.
They simply reported and then it went onto the next and the next,
so there was no clear message that 'We are not going to tolerate
that this has not improved'. I thought that was a weakness in
And as Louise Casey commented: "We have this
culture now [...] that you are as good as the last inspection.
If that is the culture, you are not going to look back."
38. The Casey report provides an incisive summary
of the result of Rotherham's failure to build on the lessons from
Rotherham Council [...] failed to achieve and
maintain an acceptable standard of performance over the past 14
years. Corporate governance, leadership and management have been
mixed, improving at times but unable to sustain momentum. Social
services' performance has declined from a high point in 2001 when
it was among the top ten performers in the country. Children's
Social Care maintained a good but declining performance to 2007
when it experienced a significant decline from which it never
39. In our view
Ofsted's inspections of Rotherham were too episodic and disconnected
to produce a clear picture of steady decline in Children's Social
Care that would be noticed let alone acted upon by the Council.
Nor did they link to the internal processes of scrutiny which,
we consider, need to be strengthened.
40. Miriam Rosen said that Ofsted's 2006 report had
"[discovered] that there was child sexual exploitation going
on". We asked
Ofsted whether the inspectors who carried out the 2009 inspection
would have reviewed the 2006 report. Ofsted told us that: "As
in Ofsted's current inspection practice, inspectors in 2009 would
have been expected to review previous inspection reports as part
of their pre-inspection preparations".
If this was the case then Ofsted should have been able to discern
the long-term trend and the failure to improve children's services
41. We detected some recent shift in Ofsted's approach.
Debbie Jones made it clear that Ofsted believed "in improvement
through inspection" and that more follow-up on findings could
become more of "Ofsted's job".
They were piloting improvement work in a small number of failing
authorities. Ofsted were keen to be part of the solution to improving
performance through the use of their skill set in inspecting.
This work focused on helping identify what needed improving and
then helping measure, outside of the inspection tests, how it
had improved. In
a subsequent memorandum Ofsted said that "early signs from
those authorities that have been involved in the pilot exercise
are that this work has been successful in supporting their improvement
programmes" and it gave details of the support that it provided.
42. The LGA, however, held the view that the current
inspection regime for the protection and care of children and
young people was "flawed and is stifling improvement",
and it was looking for "a better way of holding agencies
to account and driving improvement that takes account of the views
of children and young people and draws on the very best expertise
we have available to us". The LGA working with Solace and
the Association of Directors of Children's Services have agreed
to "collaborate on a radical new approach to be published
43. We accept
that it is neither Ofsted's job to run local authorities' children's
services nor a good use of tight resources for it to follow up
in detail what each authority has done to address every finding
in an inspection. Rotherham shows, however, that it cannot stand
back when the welfare and safety of children are at risk. In our
view Ofsted needs to assess an authority's ability to operate
the inspection process as it should function: that is to test
the findings and see through improvements. A pattern of systemic
failure and deterioration in children's services started to emerge
in Rotherham from 2000 and it carried on. Where an authority is
incapable of making improvements, Ofsted needs to take measures
to assist it and, if necessary, ensure the improvements are systematically
and comprehensively carried out. If this is not happening, then
there needs to be a clear escalation policy. It cannot be left
44. Finally, in her evidence Louise Casey made the
point that "inspection needs to be kept separate from improvement"
and she explained that "if the same group of people that
are responsible for inspecting are also then tied in with improvement,
then it does not feel to the public, and certainly to me, that
that is a clean enough scenario".
45. While we
encourage Ofsted to assist those local authorities where serious
deficiencies have occurred to improve. Ofsted has within its organisational
structure and arrangements to keep the process of improvement
separate from that of inspection, to ensure public confidence
in the independence and integrity of the inspection process.
Linking with other inspectorates
46. Linking between inspectorates should be of some
assistance in establishing whether an authority is capable of
reviewing and implementing findings. In addition, organised child
sexual exploitation by its nature will draw in other services
such as the police and the health services. John Goldup told us
that when he was at Ofsted the work he "did on multi-agency
inspection had a very strong focus on child sexual exploitation"
and he strongly believed that was "the only way you can effectively
inspect for the effectiveness of the response to an issue like
that".  But
in his time at Ofsted "we did not work sufficiently [...]
closely enough" with other inspection regimes.
He added that in terms of sharing information and "working
together on the ground, there was very limited joint working between
He explained that:
The reason the 2012 framework was an interim
framework was because by that time I had secured agreement with
the other inspectorates to undertake a single multi-agency inspection
of child protection. We were piloting that framework at the end
of 2012, and that framework had a very strong focus on child sexual
Mr Goldup understood that after he left Ofsted decided
not to pursue the new framework following the pilots and that:
Ofsted has continued to inspect local authorities
on a single-agency basis. They have consulted on proposals to
introduce a different form of multi-agency inspection from next
year, which [...] is not the proposal that I was taking forward,
which was a single inspection bringing the inspectorates together
in a single team, but is a proposal for the different inspectorates
to be on site at the same time, each doing their own inspection
of their own agency, and then bringing the results together.
47. Miriam Rosen explained that multi-inspectorate
reviews had a longer history. Joint area review inspections had
been developed over a two-year period from 2003 to 2005 and under
these 10 inspectorates and commissions had worked together. The
project had been led by Ofsted but with the expertise on social
care provided by the Commission for Social Care Inspection. She
considered, however, that "things [...] were not ideal"
and that it was "a very broad framework". The
joint area review programme did not highlight the area of child
Although no longer in Ofsted, she understood that the new inspection
system "is taking a much deeper, more investigative approach
to child sexual exploitation". We
also asked Louise Casey about joined-up inspections. She had reservations:
what it means is that you just have a collection
of people with their own structures that they want to look at,
in their own timeframes, in their own language. [...] The person
on the receiving end is now not just managing an Ofsted inspection
every so often [...] but is on the receiving end of multiple different
inspections, all of whom are looking at their own structures and
their own systems.
One of the interesting learnings out of this
is that if you want to get under the skin of something and you
want to look at an issue in an area then sometimes what it might
be useful to do is send in a group of people that are not straight-jacketed
by their systems [...] and stand back and use the inspection powers
to investigate and try to get under the skin of something [...]
If that is what a multiple inspection turns into, that is fine,
but I do worry that all you do is have five different bureaucracies
looking at something bureaucratically.
48. We raised this matter with Debbie Jones, currently
in post at Ofsted, who told us that Ofsted was "currently
concluding a pilot of [its] integrated inspection model"
and that it had "looked at two authorities and we will be
reporting on that in February".
She would not be drawn on the outcome but her view was that "we
will need [...] to ensure that we do look at issues like child
sexual exploitation in a joined-up way".
49. Debbie Jones
and John Goldup are clearly right that it is necessary to look
at issues such as child sexual exploitation in a 'joined-up way'
across inspection regimes, and to be effective the process needs
to be able to dig deep into an authority. What concerns us is
the length of time taken to achieve the join and the need to ensure
that the process that emerges can focus on an issue and examine
it in depth. Work started in 2012 but a pilot looking at two authorities
was only due to report in February 2015. We must put on record
our concern at the slow progress.
Other local authorities
50. We are concerned that organised child sexual
exploitation may have been missed in local authorities other than
Rotherham. Debbie Jones told us that what we needed to examine
was what Ofsted looked at now.
She said that "only 'good' is good enough for our children
and young people" and [...] something like 75% of local authorities
at [...] present [...] do not hit that bar".
She explained that under the current framework Ofsted had inspected
44 local authorities and it had not been necessary to take matters
up with the Secretary of State¯as had happened in the inspection
in Rotherham in September 2014¯but she assured us that "if
we went in to an authority and found what we found in Rotherham,
we would have absolutely no compunction about expressing our concerns,
as we did, to the Secretary of State".
51. On the day that we considered our report, Ofsted
published its annual social care report 2013-14.
The report found that of 43 inspections, seven authorities were
found to be inadequate, with a further 26 requiring improvement.
Ten areas were judged to provide a good standard of care and protection
for children and young people. The report said:
The importance of effective oversight of local
authorities has been demonstrated very clearly in the last 12
months in a number of investigations into the terrible abuse of
children in Rotherham.
The first of these, Professor Alexis Jay's independent
inquiry into child sexual exploitation, published in August 2014,
was deeply shocking. It is clear that Ofsted's previous inspection
arrangements did not look at this issue in sufficient depth. [...]
Inspectors reported that the strong leadership
required in this crucial area of child protection work was frequently
lacking. As Professor Jay made clear, faced with such shocking
crimes, senior leaders must show political and moral courage.
They must never allow misguided beliefs about the impact for certain
ethnic and cultural groups to get in the way of confronting this
horrific abuse wherever it occurs.
52. On Ofsted's own approach, Her Majesty's Chief
Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills, Sir Michael
Wilshaw, said that:
Ofsted currently inspects local authorities every
three to four years and, given the length of time between inspections,
it would be wrong to rely on inspection alone to uncover significant
failings. Of course, we will inspect sooner where local authorities
are judged inadequate, or where serious concerns are raised and
we are commissioned to inspect by the relevant government department.
But that will not always happen where there is what Louise Casey
in her report on Rotherham council called 'a culture of covering
up uncomfortable truths, silencing whistle-blowers and paying
off staff rather than dealing with difficult issues.'
That said, I want to ensure that Ofsted does
all in its power to help uncover such practice. Following the
thematic inspection of child sexual exploitation, we have:
further strengthened our focus on child
sexual exploitation and children who go missing in all single
made it clear to inspectors that local
authorities should be found inadequate if they are not doing all
they can to identify and tackle these issues
created a specialist team of Her Majesty's
Inspectors with expertise in child sexual exploitation to support
inspections where it appears that the local authority is not effectively
addressing the risk of child sexual exploitation
worked with other inspectorates, including
those of the police and health services, to develop a new coordinated
inspection approach where concerns are identified.
moved the delivery of the single inspection
framework programme into our now well established regional structure
to make the most of our local intelligence (from April 2015).
Ofsted hoped that these changes would help ensure
that local leaders and frontline practitioners focus on these
issues and that, as a result, children at risk of being sexually
exploited receive the support and protection they deserve.
53. We note
that Ofsted's annual report on social care 2013-14 acknowledged
that changes were needed in the way it carried out its responsibilities
in respect of child sexual exploitation and that changes are underway,
including the creation of a specialist team with expertise in
child sexual exploitation and coordination with other inspectorates.
We hope these changes will result in substantial improvements
in Ofsted's inspections of children's services. We have serious
concerns that the shortcomings in Ofsted's inspection arrangements
until 2013 may mean that organised child sexual exploitation in
other local authorities in England was missed. We are clear that
Ofsted missed child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and on the
basis of the way it was operating from 2007 to 2012 we are also
clear that it will have missed child sexual exploitation in many
other local authorities. It should therefore inspect all local
authorities in England.
2014 Inspection of Rotherham
54. We had questions about Ofsted's inspection of
Rotherham in September 2014. These fit a broader concern raised
by the LGA that: "councils have voiced growing concern over
Ofsted's ability to undertake robust, transparent and credible
inspections of local authority children's services and schools,
in the light of high profile cases such as Rotherham and Birmingham".
The LGA took the view that Ofsted's re-inspection and downgrading
of some schools from 'outstanding' or 'good' to 'inadequate' "following
media coverage has reduced the confidence of councils and the
public in the inspectorate" and it pointed out that five
of the schools involved in the Trojan Horse incident in Birmingham
were among a number which had been downgraded to 'inadequate',
in some cases less than a year after they were judged to be 'outstanding'.
55. As we have noted, in the case of Rotherham, Ofsted's
2012 inspection had resulted in an 'adequate' assessment. Professor
Jay produced her highly critical report in August 2014. Ofsted
inspected Rotherham in September, and on 30 September 2014 Sir
Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, wrote to Rt Hon
Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education, to alert her
to his "deep concerns about serious weaknesses" which
included "the Council's ability to help and protect children
and young people".
On 10 October the Secretary of State wrote to Rotherham Council
citing the advice note from Ofsted and indicating that she was
minded to appoint a Commissioner "to urgently investigate
and address the failings identified by [Ofsted] and recommend
immediate next steps".
56. We put our concerns to Debbie Jones, who denied
that Ofsted was trying to save face: "When Ofsted went in
to Rotherham, Rotherham was due its inspection anyway. It had
already been programmed in. It was brought forward at the request
of the Secretary of State. When we went in we inspected according
to our current framework".
57. We accept
that Ofsted's 2014 inspection of Rotherham was necessary and prudent
in the light of the findings in the Jay Report. However, Professor
Jay had done the job for Ofsted. It was as if having been told
the answer to the question Ofsted was bound to come up with the
correct answer when it took the examination. Eventually coming
up with the correct answer does not wipe out Ofsted's past record.
58. Ofsted is a non-ministerial department. There
are good reasons for such an arrangement: Ofsted needs to have
organisational arrangements to allow it to operate independently
and as Debbie Jones told us: "We value our independence [...]
Its status cannot, however, become a device to cloak failures.
It is accountable to parliament.
When we asked Ms Jones who would assess Ofsted's performance and
challenge it when it failed, she replied
If we fail, if we do not perform as robustly
as we should do, we are an organisation that has no problem with
looking to ourselves and identifying when things go wrong. Indeed,
when things go wrong I hope that our systems are robust enough
and our quality assurance systems are transparent enough to say,
when we get it wrong, we get it wrong.
59. We accept what Ms Jones says but this defence
could be run by any responsible organisation in the public or
private sector. We therefore pressed the matter by asking whether
it sacked people when things went wrong. Ms Jones answered: "Ofsted
has sacked people where it has been proven that inspectors have
got it wrong and due process has been followed".
We asked Michael Hart and John Goldup whether they had ever sacked
any inspectors. They said they had not.
Ms Rosen did not remember anyone being sacked.
We wrote to Ofsted to ask how many inspectors had been removed
from their posts because of failure to carry out adequate inspections.
In reply Ofsted supplied the table below which gave the "Social
Care Inspectors who have either left due to dismissal or have
taken voluntary exits (VE) as a result of organisational change
including changes to the role". The figures cover the period
1 January 2007 to 31 January 2015; the VE scheme was in place
||Number of Voluntary Exits
|B1 (SCRI) [Senior Inspector]
|Managing Inspector (grade no longer exits)
60. This is
not the report in which to make recommendations about the accountability
of Ofsted. That would require a much bigger inquiry. But as a
committee new to scrutinising non-ministerial departments we make
two points. First, without calling former officials it would have
been difficult getting as far as we did in this inquiry. Second,
we must put on record a concern that the balance between independence
and accountability in the face of the failure to detect organised
child sexual exploitation at Rotherham and dysfunction of the
local authority may need adjustment. The past officers were more
open and prepared to admit past mistakes than the officer currently
in post. On the basis of the evidence we took concerning Rotherham
we are uneasy that Ofsted should be left to mark its own examinations
and decide internally what lessons to draw and changes to make.
15 Q200 Back
Jay Report, p11, paras 3.14-3.16 Back
Q376 [John Goldup] Back
Q306 [Debbie Jones] Back
Jay Report, paras 3.17-3.19 Back
Q311 [Debbie Jones] Back
Jay Report, paras 3.20-3.21 Back
Jay Report, paras 3.20-3.21 Back
Jay Report, para 3.23 Back
Jay Report, p 13; see also Casey Report, chapter 2 and p 69 Back
Ofsted (JRR 003) Back
CPI Child Protection Inspection
CRA Contact, Referral And Assessment
JAR Joint Area Review
SIF Single Inspection Framework
SLAC Safeguarding Looked After Children Back
Jay Report, paras 1.5-1.6; see also para 5.20 and chapter 6 Back
Casey Report, pp 37-38 Back
Jay Report, p 2; see also Casey Report, p 38 Back
Casey Report, p 40 Back
Casey Report, p 43; see also Q457. Back
Casey Report, p 44 Back
Qq352-53, 362-63 Back
Email sent on 3 February 2015 from Michael Hart to the Clerk of
the Committee, not printed. Back
The APPG for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG
for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, Report from the joint inquiry into children who go missing from care,
June 2012 Back
Such as "Police files reveal child protection scandal",
The Times, 24 September 2012, "Revelation of child-sex scandal prompts calls for public enquiry",
The Times, 25 September 2012 Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner, "I thought I was the only one. The only one in the world" The Office of the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation In Gangs and Groups Interim report,
November 2012 Back
Qq310-11; see also Q315. Back
Local Government Association (JRR 002) para 8 Back
Q355 [John Goldup]; In more detail they meant:
Outstanding: a service of exceptional quality that significantly
exceeds minimum requirements
Good: a service of high quality that exceeds minimum requirements
Adequate: a service that only meets minimum requirements
Inadequate: a service that does not meet minimum requirements. Back
Casey Report, p 69 Back
Qq312, 314 Back
Casey Report, p 24 Back
Casey Report, p 11 Back
Casey Report, p 68 Back
Ofsted (JRR 004) Back
Q345; see also Ofsted (JRR 001) Back
Ofsted (JRR 001) Back
Local Government Association (JRR 002) para 4 Back
Q491; see also Ofsted (JRR 003) para 1 Back
Q491 [Miriam Rosen] Back
Q491; see also Ofsted (JRR 003) para 1 Back
Qq334, 336 Back
Q309 [Debbie Jones] Back
Ofsted, The report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills 2013-14 Social care,
March 2015 Back
Ofsted, The report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills 2013-14 Social care,
March 2015, p 6 Back
Ofsted, The report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills 2013-14 Social care,
March 2015, p 8 Back
Local Government Association (JRR 002)
para 4 Back
Advice note from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw to Nicky Morgan,
30 September 2014 Back
Letter from the Secretary of State for Education to Rotherham Council,
7 October 2014 Back
Q328 and see also Q356 [John Goldup] Back
Q328 [Debbie Jones] Back
Q510; see also Qq508-09 Back
Ofsted (JRR 003) para 4; Key:
B1 Regulatory inspectors
B2 Childcare inspectors.
MI Managing Inspector
HMI Her Majesty's Inspector
SCRI Social Care Regulatory inspector
SHMI Senior Her Majesty's Inspector (replaced MI) Back