Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Rochdale to discipline staff?

It appears that as many as twelve Rochdale Council staff, who were involved with child protection failings associated with the child exploitation scandal, are to face disciplinary proceedings.

I begin to despair because these things always seem to pan out in the same way. Disciplinary action against staff (usually junior staff) seems to be a knee-jerk response. Nobody seems to consider the impact that a punitive management stance has on child safety in general.

Punishing usually well-intentioned, but erring, employees is likely to result in fewer of them in future feeling able to confess their errors.  That results in less, not more, safety.

All senior managers in children's services, and their political bosses, should read Sidney Dekker's book Just Culture: balancing safety and accountability (Ashgate 2007).
What was it Michael Gove said not so long ago? 

“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.