The departure of Sharon Shoesmith

As I sat on the benches in the Commons yesterday for the result of the vote on Menzies Campbell’s amendment to set up a committee into the Damian Green affair as per the Speaker’s statement – i.e. to sit now and to be non-partisan – when my phone started ringing (silently or Mr Speaker would have my guts for garters!). We lost the vote by three votes – and the Government if it had had any sense would have agreed to the amendment – but no they got their partisan way, discrediting themselves as usual. So the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives will not sit on this rigged and delayed committee – ‘delayed’ because it would not do any real work until after police investigation and court proceedings are at an end.

Anyway – the reason for phone assault was the news breaking that Sharon Shoesmith had been dismissed without compensation. My reaction – huge relief really. For the first time in a long time what should have happened has happened. No pay off. No excellent references. That has been the way of ‘getting rid’ of people in both the public and private sector for too long and has created a rotten culture and rotten performance – at the very top.

Sharon Shoesmith failed in her duties and was accountable and has now suffered the appropriate consequence.

Someone said to me last night ‘she was unlucky’. No – she failed in her duty and that is why she has gone.

It’s just that we have got used as a society to accepting failure and rewarding it. But the Children’s Act of 2004 made it clear that the buck stopped with her position and the lead politician for Children’s Services.

However, if this is the long awaited fightback of doing what is right not what is expedient – then with a real stretch you might be able to say that she was ‘unlucky’ the pendulum started its swing back on her misdoings as opposed to all those who have got away with it before.

And the only other thing I think she was ‘unlucky’ with was that she was holding the parcel when, following Laming’s inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, the Government joined Social Services and Education Services and she, already Director of Education, found herself in charge of children’s protection as well without any experience.

I suspect that is why Ed Ball’s report criticises her oversight of the deputy – who was more hands on. However, she chaired and controlled the Safeguarding Children’s Board – and was responsible ultimately for a litany of failures the like of which I hope we never see again. One missed appointment when a child is on the at risk register should be enough!

0 thoughts on “The departure of Sharon Shoesmith

  1. The report’s observations make me think of the management chestnut that good enough is good enough. This isn’t just something people trot out to get a product out of the door; its meaning is discussed seriously and at length in MBA programmes and management training courses. It’s meant to curb anal perfectionism, but combined with the (unspoken but pervasive) belief that truth flows down the organization chart, it has turned out to be lethal, not only in Haringay but also in the banking system. The case of Baby P is a horrible illustration of the fact that everybody in an organization needs to understand what they are doing and what is happening and to take responsibility for it — though this is in direct conflict with received ideas of leadership.

  2. “Sharon Shoesmith failed in her duties and was accountable and has now suffered the appropriate consequence.”Is failing in your duties the same as committing gross misconduct? That is what is usually required for dismissal without pay in lieu of notice.I hope in this case that we haven’t seen councillors making a knee-jerk reaction with half an eye on the media coverage. Denying people their (fairly basic) employment rights will do little to encourage talented people to take up social work

  3. Don’t forget the statement that Haringey misled Ofsted. If the data given to Ofsted was as wrong as alleged, that is gross misconduct.

  4. It will be interesting to see who Haringey Labour Group put into the position of Leader bearing in mind they all voted to save George Meehan at the last Council meeting.If as I suspect they put their Cheif Whip into position as Leader this clearly demonstrates how inept and totally incompident they are. If the vote for Cllr Reith Deputy Leader it amazing even more as She was an active member of the Communist Party a little while back nand this clearly indicates why Haringey are in such a mess.

  5. An important question that really does need to be asked is, ‘what % of Haringey’s training budget has been spent on ‘common purpose’ leadership courses and how many staff have attended

  6. Dear Lynn

    I have been following the story of Haingey’s Musa family who have had their seven children placed in foster care and the parents have been convicted of child cruelty. There is an appeal. I read the story on this Christian website:

    I am myself a born again Christian and I know the parents are Christians, in fact they are ordained ministers in the Nigerian Church. Both parents protest vehemently all charges of child cruelty.

    I have read Christopher Booker’s articles on this case and numerous newspaper reports on-line. In fact the Internet is littered with stories of the Musa family, and I cannot find one story that even hints that this family are guilty of the crimes they have been found guilty of.

    This family are not citizens of the UK and I have read the UK are going to have the seven children adopted to families here in the UK, and none of the Nigerian relatives or close Nigerian Church friends can be considered as suitable adoptive parents to these Nigerian children.

    Having spent a great deal of time reflecting on this case, I would appreciate it if anyone is able to cast some light on exactly what is going on here and give the general public some information.

    Kind Regards