Child protection staff say senior officers did nothing about concerns they raised

“Certain staff may be blamed unfairly and used as scapegoats for the failings of others in much more senior positions,” says Unison


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.

We’ve embedded the letter below for your convenience.

Image: H.Koppdelaney under CC BY 2.0

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Thursday, 14th February, 2013 12:09pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Couldn’t the Council use the £3 million they won’t be able to spend on broadband, for fear of breaking EU law, to fund pay offs with gagging orders for this lot?

  2. Island Monkey

    14.Feb.2013 12:44pm

    No surprises here then? Any regular readers of this site will already know the culture that exists in the council. It’s awful, rotten.

    Our delightful councillor’s need to understand that people work in this field because they care, because they are compassionate. This seems at odds with the council’s oft stated ‘corporate objectives.’

    When you let the cost cutters rule – tears are inevitable.

  3. Billy Builder

    14.Feb.2013 12:55pm

    The question here is “where should the buck stop”. In a well run organisation or department the buck should always stop at the top, as if the organisation or department is run correctly problems and issues will always be communicated to those at a higher level that need to know. The only exception to this would be where an individual had deliberately concealed information. But even then, a well run organisation would include checks and balances to ensure that information could not be consealed.

    When significant failures occur, then it should be those at the top of the organisation who accept the blame. If you look at the Titanic disaster, it was the Captain who made all of the decissions that lead to the loss of the ship, and he at least accepted that responsibility and went down with that ship. Whereas, the Captain of the Concordia did not accept responsibility but ran away, blaming anyone but himself.

    I firmly believe that the Isle of Wight Council leadership have modelled themselves on Francesco Schettino, and blame anyone but themselves for their failures. In the latest fiasco regarding the OFSTED report on Childrens Services, it should have been the Strategic Director for Community Wellbeing and Social Care that accepted the blame.

    Lets have the heads of those really responsible, not their scapegoats.

  4. jonathan bacon

    14.Feb.2013 1:53pm

    The view expressed by Unison is shared by Independent Councillors. If Independents hold sway after the forthcoming elections steps will be taken to ensure a root and branch review of these matters, specifically listening to and responding to concerns of those at the coal face.

    • Billy Builder

      14.Feb.2013 3:02pm

      Hi Jonathan,

      What is really needed is a public enquiry that looks into all recent failures including the OFSTED inspection, the awarding of the PFI and the Cowes Enterprise College fiasco. I have no doubt that the CEO and Directors of Environment and Social Care will be found wanting. I suspect that these individuals have gone way beyond what would be considered acceptable in passing the buck. [part of comment removed by moderator]

    • Retired hack

      14.Feb.2013 3:38pm

      What a refreshing and long overdue change that would be.

    • What rubbish. A motley crew of 2nd raters are going to change the council are they? Watch out for low flying pigs.

      • Ill informed plant

      • Oh Bayboy, you obviously do not know the likes of Jonathan and Chris very well. Take off your rose tinted specs, join the real world and make the Island a better place for one and all. Days of Pughgate are nearly over. I once had high hopes for the Boy David but when he showed his real colours, his lack of maturity I changed my mind. Your have Independents and Social Workers all saying the same thing yet you choose to ignore the obvious.

  5. Island Monkey

    14.Feb.2013 2:37pm

    ‘Listen to those at the coal face’ – now there’s a novel idea?

    It would never happen with the mob we’ve got now.

  6. Keith Fagan

    14.Feb.2013 2:55pm

    Well done Unison for stepping up to put the other side of this tragic saga.

    This can never happen again and everything must be done to safeguard vulnerable children.

    Cost can never come into the calculation. How much is a life worth?

  7. Social Workers employed in Childrens Services were a very commited and competent unit.They adapted to 3 lots of re-structuring from 2007 -Jan2011.Indeed Ofsted reports support this.
    However they were then introduced to the concept of Restructuring Social work that was sold to them in a way that certain Banks miss sold PPI.
    Underpinning this was that all staff had to undergo a rigorous format for re employment that saw up to 14 of their colleagues made redundent.
    Social workers were then re deployed to different teams where many had non specific areas of specialisation.IE Fostering S/W being placed in frontline Child Protection Work.Allied to this was a culture that was ruthless in gagging anyone who may seek the appropriate channels to whistleblow.Desks being cleared ,redundancy and disciplinary sanctions bought about a “Fear Culture” that stiffled efective working.
    The Island is a very different and Somewhat unique L/A in the way that Social Workers are trapped.If they were treated like this in Southampton S/Workers would apply to Hampshire or Portsmouth without having a traumatic move for their Families.The truth will come out soon to vindicate your efforts as it will for Teachers,Staff at the Riverside and every Island Resident who is sick of the Hypocrisy and lies of this ruling Party in governance on the Island.Those Councillors with B***s are being bashed up for asking for democratic debate.Keep at it guys we do need you.

  8. Barney McGrew

    16.Feb.2013 10:57am

    How much further can this bunch of no-hopers sink and imagine that they are pulling the wool over the eyes of rightminded residents? The disgraceful “selling out2 of protection for the most vulnerable in our society is now being blamed on the social workers at the sharp end.

    The complete abrogation of any sense of responsibility from those at the top is breathtaking. Pugh, an innefective lame duck if ever there was one, has duped responsibility. Messrs Cousins and Beynon are maintaining a very low profile and Roger the dodger has the temerity to try and dump blame on the Deputy Director when his own Chairman, who should have been the first to go, can’t be bothered to turn up for the Scrutiny Committee and to compound that the “Temporary” chairman tries to make political capital out of a personal tragedy.

    RIP Honour and Democracy it passed away with but a whimper!

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