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Ofsted accused of changing Haringey report after Baby P

Date:12 OCT 2009

The Guardian reports to have seen documents showing that Ofsted downgraded an initial Annual Performance Assessment (APA) report into Haringey children's services from "good" to "inadequate" following the media coverage of the death of Baby Peter.

Sharon Shoesmith, the former Director of Children's Services for Haringey Council, was in the High Court last week seeking a judicial review of the decision to dismiss her after the finding of an emergency Joint Area Review were published on 1 December last year in the wake of the Baby Peter tragedy.

The Guardian reports that a whistleblower has shown them an initial draft of the 2008 APA into Haringey children's services which reveals that Ofsted downgraded the council's performance in key areas, including child protection, from "good" to "inadequate" following Ms Shoesmith's dismissal.

In a statement to Newswatch Ofsted denied the allegations. "The APA was a system that looked at both performance data and inspection evidence for local authorities. It was therefore entirely appropriate for the 2008 APA assessment for Haringey to take into account the specially commissioned Joint Area Review", an Ofsted spokesperson said.

"When it became apparent to Ofsted that the credibility of some of the evidence used to come to the draft APA for Haringey was in doubt, the draft APA was formally suspended at the internal APA consistency panel on 13 November 2008.

"Following the completion of the specially commissioned Joint Area Review, new inspectors were asked to start the APA again. Ofsted completely refutes the allegation that it manipulated any results. No pressure was put on these inspectors to downgrade the APA rating", the spokesperson added.

The allegations that Ofsted changed the report could have ramifications for Ms Shoesmith's judicial review case. Today her lawyers wrote to the Treasury Solicitor requesting disclosure of the draft report.

The chairman of the children's select committee, Barry Sheerman, has called for an inquiry. In a letter to Ofsted's chief inspector, Christine Gilbert, Mr Sheerman says: "The information provided to me alleges that at a very senior level the inspection team were asked to re-evaluate their assessment using the same statistics and information and with no further visits. The report was rewritten with a very different set of scores and commentary.

"As these are such serious allegations and in view of current developments around the Haringey case I would welcome an immediate response."