MPs have been told they must wait for judgement in the Sharon Shoesmith case before they can question Ofsted over claims it “manipulated” performance data in its report on Haringey’s children’s services.
Shoesmith, the former director of children’s services at Haringey, is seeking a judicial review of her sacking in the wake of the Baby P court case and a critical emergency Ofsted report.
During the last days of the court case a whistleblower approached Barry Sheerman, chair of the children, schools and families select committee. The whistleblower, who reportedly worked on the emergency report, has documents showing that Ofsted secretly downgraded Haringey from “good” to “inadequate” based on the same data.
Sheerman said parliamentary officials had told him they could not hold their hearings until the Shoesmith judgement was handed down, which is expected in the next two to three weeks. “As soon as that comes out we will be ready to have our hearing,” he said. He has already written to Christine Gilbert, Ofsted’s chief inspector, to demand an explanation for the changes.
“I am still seriously concerned about the role of Ofsted where we can see they have been instructed by the state to undertake heavy scrutiny in one council and yet they chose not to do the same in Birmingham. Many would argue that in fact Birmingham had much greater need for this kind of inspection than Haringey,” he said.
Ofsted said it completely refuted the allegation that it manipulated any results or put any pressure on inspectors to downgrade the annual performance assessment rating. Any changes to the report were due to doubts as to the credibility of original evidence submitted, a spokesman said.