Ofsted are accused of changing Haringey report
Saturday 10 October 2009
Ofsted is facing accusations that it covertly downgraded an official assessment of Haringey council from "good" to "inadequate" in wake of the findings surrounding the death of Baby P.
Yesterday the chairman of the children's select committee, Barry Sheerman, demanded an inquiry after claims by an internal whistleblower that core grades in the council's 2008 annual assessment were relegated. Ofsted denies all allegations.
According to The Guardian, the positive results of an initial area performance assessment may have been changed as many as three times in the wake of a subsequent inspection which led to the sacking of Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey council's former head of children services.
Ms Shoesmith,56, is currently seeking a judicial review against the council, Children's Secretary Ed Balls and Ofsted, arguing she was unlawfully dismissed in the wake of a damning report that followed the emergency inspection, when her department was described as one of the "worst ever seen".
The whistleblower alleges that on 8 December, a week after the findings of the emergency inspection were announced, a new "consistency panel" downgraded the Haringey assessment in three crucial categories. Those marks were revised again by Ofsted, and a draft final letter sent to Haringey, judging the council failing severely in four of the seven areas.
Last night a spokeswoman for Ofsted denied the allegations. "Following the completion of the specially commissioned joint area review, new inspectors were asked to start the annual performance assessment again.
"Ofsted completely refutes the allegation that it manipulated any results. No pressure was put on these inspectors to downgrade the APA rating."
He added: "The safeguarding issues raised were so significant that the overall APA rating had to be graded inadequate overall."
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