Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ed Balls says he would be unfair again

Government and Ofsted have got some learning to do about the Sharon Shoesmith case (see Haringey Independent story).

The Department for Education thinks it was right in principle to sack her. The principle has already been decided by the Court of Appeal and I think it's unlikely the Supreme Court will allow an appeal. And, the court wasn't just saying there should have been a meeting between Ed Balls and Sharon Shoesmith but that she should have been given the opportunity to put her case.

Her case was against the Ofsted report, which as I have pointed out in a previous post seemed light on detail to anyone who bothered to look at it. I don't think it's clear that Ofsted came to a sound conclusion based on evidence (again, see Haringey Independent story). There was no challenge to the Ofsted findings in the legal case, but as the judges themselves said (see their summary decision), their "task was the more limited one of deciding whether those whose decisions affected her [Shoesmith] followed procedures complying with the law’s requirements of fairness" [their emphasis]. In fact, they did not "feel able to accept that the adoption of a fair procedure would inevitably have led to the same outcome".

And David Cameron doesn't seem to understand that accountability is not about what the government decides is right or wrong (see Guardian story). It's this political error that society needs to correct. This kind of political pressure leads to regulators getting things wrong. Perhaps Cameron should think more about his politics (see past blog entry).

And the government should get on and implement the Munro report to improve child protection (see previous post). That's more important than Ed Balls' ego.

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