I was quite impressed by the letter written by the Secretary of Sate for Education, Michael Gove, concerning the Serious Case Review of the Edlington tragedy. That is the case in which two boys attacked two other boys, causing serious injury.
Gove is not impressed by the overview report of the Serious Case Review, the publication of which he has ordered. I found that there was far too much redaction in the published report for me to make a sound judgement about its quality, but I do think that Gove has a point when he says: “It documents everything that happened but with insufficient analysis of why and what could have been done differently.”
That was not, however, what I found impressive. Rather the following extract from Gove’s letter seems to me to be spot on:
“I do not want these reports to be used to assign blame where terrible incidents have taken place. People working in these circumstances need to have confidence that they will be backed by their managers when they take difficult decisions with good intent and sound judgement, whatever the outcome. Publishing factual information about serious incidents helps ensure that all the lessons are learned, nationally and locally, to reduce the risk of repeating mistakes. This will not only help people working at the front line; it will also give the public greater confidence. We want an open, confident, self-regulating system where professionals are continually asking how they can improve rather than a system clouded by secrecy and fear.”
I would like to pin that up somewhere, and I only hope that when, or if, another tragedy occurs Michael Gove will stick to these ideals without flinching.
Sadly Doncaster council is reported to be taking disciplinary action against five members of staff over the Edlington affair and has referred one former employee to the General Social Care Council. It also resisted the publication of the overview report.
Not much evidence of an end to the blame culture there!