Unison members were last week copied in on a letter (embedded below) from Branch Secretary Mark Chiverton to Ian Anderson, Director for Community Wellbeing and Social Care at the Isle of Wight council.
The three-page letter followed a meeting with Unison members employed in Children’s Safeguarding and set out their views in light of the recent damning Ofsted report in child protection.
Fear of scapegoating
The release of the inspection report, which deemed the Isle of Wight council inadequate in the protection of children in all categories, has raised widespread nervousness and concern that “certain staff may be blamed unfairly and used as scapegoats for the failings of others in much more senior positions.”
The letter goes on to express the lack of surprise at Ofsted’s findings. Staff told the branch secretary that “some areas of service delivery, and aspects of practice, have been inadequate and potentially dangerous for a considerable period.”
Issues raised regularly with management
They went on to say that, “these issues have been flagged up by them on a regular basis through the line management chain but that nothing they have said has seemed to be taken on board at senior levels of the organisation.”
As was mentioned by Ian Anderson at last week’s CYP scrutiny panel meeting, staff working within the area of Children’s Safeguarding are dedicated and hardworking. They’ve told Unison reps that they want to move forward positively.
Council must “adopt a more inclusive approach”
Mark Chiverton’s letter to the Director explains that staff wish to ensure a ‘fresh start’, but need the council to “publicly acknowledge that it wishes to adopt a more inclusive approach that takes the views of the workforce (and its representatives) more seriously than in the past and that it wishes to move forward in a spirit of genuine partnership.”
“Good enough for the Isle of Wight?”
The letter goes on to say, “It is clear from the meeting that many staff still feel bruised by past comments by management that ‘they needed to prove that they were good enough for the Isle of Wight’.”
Strong feelings were expressed that the staff group now needs to be assured that management itself is ‘good enough for the Isle of Wight’.
Fear of job losses in Fostering and Adoption Service
The letter ends with the concerns raised by staff that jobs of all non-qualified staff within the Fostering and Adoption Service now appear under threat and staff are unaware of “adequate alternative employment options”.
Mark Chiverton appeals to Ian Anderson that no decisions are made about the Fostering and Adoption Service until a review is completed.