Baby P – I'm so angry!
How can it have happened again? The serious case review on the circumstances surrounding the death of Baby Peter three years ago has been published listing many of the same recommendations that were trumpeted when Victoria Climbie was so tragically murdered 10 years ago. Like Peter she was abused by family members and again all the agencies were put under the spotlight and found wanting.
The result of those enquiries was a major shakeup of child protection procedures. It was the dawn of Every Child Matters, Children’s Trusts and Extended Schools. The object of the exercise was to improve the collaboration of all the agencies that might be involved in a child’s life:- social services, health, housing, police, education. The more vulnerable the family, the greater the number of agencies were likely to be involved.
Schools have always played a major part in the pastoral welfare of their pupils. With the advent of Every Child Matters and the Children’s Act in 2004, this role became even more prominent. The curriculum had to reflect the 5 areas of support:- be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, achieve economic well-being. These 5 areas became an integral part of the Ofsted inspection framework with schools being required to produce evidence of the progress they were making. The ECM agenda ran through everything schools did.
Alongside this was a greater emphasis on agencies working together. Communities had to arrange meetings where professionals from health, social services and schools met to discuss identified vulnerable children and put together a plan. A CAF was designed (Common Assessment Form ) and had to be completed each time a child was giving any of these groups concern. The hope was that the use of standardised format for the collection of evidence would mean none of it was lost.
During the years between Victoria and Peter, there have been other children who have lost their lives from abuse and lack of co-ordination between those agencies who are charged to look after them. For schools, the introduction of Every Child Matters brought training, in-set, meetings, all sorts. Do not get me wrong – the principles behind it all were very good and noble. However, what impact has it had on the lives of vulnerable children?
I was listening to Radio 5 Live yesterday when a minister was interviewed who said it was hoped that now services would be ‘linked up’, that agencies would work with ‘other professionals’. I am not here to judge social workers or other professionals but WHY DID THIS NOT HAPPEN IN 2004? Schools have had to embrace the sentiments – why not other agencies? We will now see a flurry of articles blaming different groups – just like before!
When will we learn to take action to make the changes necessary to improve the lives of all our children? How many more need to die these dreadful deaths?