Ofsted’s second Joint Area Review of Haringey council in the wake of the baby Peter case was “at best a quick and dirty inspection”, according to an expert called in to advise the council after the Connelly case.
Paul Fallon, children’s services consultant and an independent chair of children’s safeguarding boards, told Community Care: “The second JAR wasn’t really a JAR at all. It let Ofsted take down the first JAR from their website, because they didn’t want it out there that they had previously given a good report about Haringey.”
Fallon said Ofsted refused to co-operate with him when he was trying to assess whether more disciplinary action had to be taken against Haringey staff.
“I thought it was very important, before I gave Haringey any advice about disciplinary action, to test the evidence used in Ofsted’s reports,” he told Community Care. “It seemed to me perfectly reasonable to ask Ofsted if I could have a chat with them about it.”
Fallon said Ofsted’s refusal to share information was detrimental to what he had believed was a common goal among all parties.
“It was their right not to talk to me, but you would have thought they would have been keen to help Haringey do what they could to move forward. I thought we were all on the same side, but Ofsted didn’t seem to think so.”
Ofsted refuted Fallon’s claim about the JAR, saying the emergency inspection was “strong and robust”. The inspectorate added that all historic reports, including the first JAR published about Haringey, are, and always have been, available on their website.
Regarding Fallon’s requests for information, an Ofsted spokesman said: “Ofsted’s inspection was not about Sharon Shoesmith. What happened to Ms Shoesmith following the inspection is a matter for Haringey. It was never a role for Ofsted to provide evidence to support her dismissal and neither would we.”
Ofsted said the inspectorate met with Haringey officers and talked through the JAR findings and evidence for those findings.
“At no time then, or subsequently through the court proceedings, has anyone questioned the accuracy of the findings, namely that services were inadequate and as a result vulnerable children were at risk,” the spokesman said.
“We stand by our inspection and the integrity of the inspectors who conducted it.”