Ofsted has claimed it is standard practice to redraft inspection reports after it was revealed Sharon Shoesmith was portrayed far less favourably in later versions of the report which led to her dismissal.
Documents released from the former Haringey director of children’s services’ application for a judicial review appear to show substantial differences between the first joint area review draft and the one submitted to children’s secretary Ed Balls.
Some social work experts claim the extent of the changes, made after news of the Baby P case broke, are unusual.
The documents, released to a national newspaper ahead of a judgement in the case, reportedly show that Ofsted managers removed sections acknowledging Shoesmith’s positive achievements and added new passages that put her in an unfavourable light.
Shoesmith’s lawyers also claim the documents show that, although the original joint area review included three recommendations for police, none appeared in the final version.
However, Ofsted has defended itself. A spokesperson said: “It is wrong to suggest that a first draft won’t be changed and improved. Ofsted inspections routinely undergo a process which involves challenge, review and moderation to ensure that all findings are fair and properly evidenced.”
Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University, said: “What’s unusual is that the views of the inspectors apparently changed in different drafts of the report. To then have senior managers change the report in this way is unusual.”