Deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz has questioned Ofsted’s inspection of serious case reviews after labelling the executive summary of the Edlington attack report as “vague”.
Debate on whether serious case reviews should be published in full has been fierce since the sentencing last week of two boys over their vicious attack on two other boys at Edlington near Doncaster.
Berelowitz said the executive summary of the review was insufficient to instill confidence that the right lessons had been learned, and she questioned the “good” rating it had been given by Ofsted.
“In the summary, it’s not possible to tie the recommendations into the narrative,” Berelowitz told Community Care, following a letter she wrote to the Times. “For instance, there’s a recommendation about the independent reviewing service, but there’s no reference to this service in the narrative. I’m left not knowing who these people are.
“There’s nothing in the narrative or recommendations to show on what basis decisions were made.”
Although Berelowitz emphasised that she was not calling for publication of SCRs in full, she said the language in published summaries such as that from Doncaster was too vague.
“This summary refers to the boys’ family as ‘anti-social’ when in fact this was a very violent and troubled family,” she said. “This wasn’t a case of the kids throwing eggs at the neighbours.”
Berelowitz (pictured) also called for the action plan – a required aspect of every SCR – to be included in executive summaries, because the public and professionals needed to see how the recommendations were being implemented.
John Goldup, director of development for social care at Ofsted, in an unpublished letter responding to Berelowtiz’s accusations, claimed the attack was “misplaced”.
“Ofsted evaluates the review as a whole – taking into account the quality of a large number of individual agency management reviews, the overview report, the recommendations and action plan, and the executive summary.
“An attack on the overall evaluation which is based on a particular view of one component part of the review is therefore misplaced.”
Goldup added that the debate about whether reviews should be published in full was a matter for the government, not Ofsted, to settle.
He emphasised that Ofsted’s evaluation of the SCR had no connection to its rating of services in Doncaster, which it graded inadequate.