We can't ignore headteachers' support for Sharon Shoesmith

OVER 60 Haringey headteachers have pleaded for Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey s director of children s social services, not to resign. So, are we to ignore this overwhelming support from highly qualified people who are in a better position than us to judge h

OVER 60 Haringey headteachers have pleaded for Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey's director of children's social services, not to resign.

So, are we to ignore this overwhelming support from highly qualified people who are in a better position than us to judge her? Surely in hasty actions we are prejudging the results of the investigation? There seems to be a huge demand for heads to roll in national scandals of this nature. It is very far from clear whose heads should roll here.

This is a very complex issue on which we are receiving contradictory stories. I heard that Haringey child protection officers have a caseload of 25 clients each against a recommended load of 12 cases but the council denies that they are overloaded. We need to know the truth about this and many other issues before we can decide who can be held responsible.

I fear too many policies have been driven by political point scoring and media headlines rather than hard evidence. This matter needs to be taken more seriously than that. The impatience of the media and public for instant solutions must be resisted. Analysis of the findings of the investigation and the opinions of qualified professionals must be given their proper weight. This process must not be rushed.


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How much are failings in this case unique to Haringey and how much are they national? In the last 20 years there have been hundreds of initiatives, strategies and Acts of Parliament affecting children and young people. But have governments allowed enough time to implement this avalanche of policies, or are children and social workers failing to benefit from services that are subjected to such frequent changes and allowed little time to bed down?

Social workers spend almost three quarters of their time typing up reports to meet targets. Workers can be more worried about missing deadlines than visits.

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What of staff morale? Imagine how stressful this work is. In London 15 per cent of social work posts are vacant. Improving the salary levels and conditions of employment of professional social workers needs to be central to efforts to overcome problems of staff turnover and burnout

Not every tragedy can be prevented but we must continue to try to do so - this kind of message doesn't tend to get much of a hearing at times like these.

Pete McAskie

Green Party Parliamentary Candidate

Hornsey & Wood Green

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