The body charged with inspecting England’s schools and child services on behalf of the government was so hopelessly obsessed with bureaucratic paperwork and keeping up appearances it missed the enormous scale of abuse going on in Rotherham and elsewhere.
Because the local child services succeeded in ticking all the right boxes, even at the height of the abuse when hundreds of girls were being groomed and raped by Pakistani gangs living in the town, Ofsted showed no hesitation in heaping praise on them for their good work. A committee of members of parliament investigating the abuse have now warned that if Ofsted were unable to detect the systematic rape of children where it was so blatant in Rotherham, they will have almost certainly missed it elsewhere.
The report published by the committee highlights the comments of Ofsted in the same year the first of the grooming gangs were sentenced to prison, when the Quango praised Rotherham child services for “effective and creative work”. The report asked: “We are left with two still partially unanswered questions: first, given the inability of Ofsted to recognise organised child sexual exploitation until 2012-13, is it possible there are more Rotherhams waiting to be found?”.
Consequently, all local children’s services in the country are now being re-inspected, however the committee questioned whether that would be enough, given Ofsted’s failures in the past, remarking “Ofsted’s credibility is now on the line”. The chair of the committee, Labour member of parliament Clive Betts has suggested the ‘hands off’ approach of the government to Ofsted meant the body was left to “mark its own exams”, potentially leading to complacency.
The Daily Telegraph reports the blithe response of Ofsted to the criticisms: “We welcome the report and the committee’s recognition that the changes we have made since 2012 strengthen our ability to uncover where children are at risk.
“We know we didn’t get it right historically in Rotherham and have apologised for those mistakes.”
This is not the first heavy criticism taken on by Ofsted as of late, as it has been repeatedly attacked for perceived bungling in its handling of the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ schools scandal. Apparently using new powers to tackle covert Islamic radicalisation in state schools to instead undermine Christian faith schools, Breitbart London last week reported on the comments of Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh, who said the body should be put into “special measures”.
Addressing parliament, Sir Edward referred to the tick-box culture at Ofsted and recent examples of previously highly rated schools being threatened with closure because they failed to meet the new guidelines, saying: “They appear to be guilty of trying to enforce a kind of state-imposed orthodoxy on certain moral and religious questions.
“You have to wonder how far Christian schools have to go to satisfy the new standards. In September Bolton Parish Church C of E Primary School was told that, although “events such as Eid and Diwali are celebrated” “pupils’ understanding of life in modern Britain is underdeveloped”.
“How many non-Christian festivals does a Christian school have to celebrate before Ofsted will be happy?”