MPs claim Ofsted inspection regime in Rotherham failed

Alexis Jay
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Ofsted chiefs are to face questions over flaws in the inspection regime which ‘failed to lift the lid’ on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

The Communities and Local Government Committee claims there were systemic failures in local council scrutiny, governance and leadership that allowed widespread child sex abuse in the town to go unchallenged for years.

Sheffield MP Clive Betts.

Sheffield MP Clive Betts.

It also claims there were ‘serious flaws’ in the Ofsted inspection regime, which failed to detect the scale of abuse and cover-up.

The findings were published in the wake of a report by Professor Alexis Jay, who found that at least 1,400 children were abused by mainly Pakistani-heritage men over a 16-year period.

Herr report criticised South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council for turning a blind eye because of cultural sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “It’s important to note that it was the Press which stimulated action in Rotherham, not the council’s own system of challenge or scrutiny, nor external inspections.

“It’s vital local authorities across the country now ensure their scrutiny, governance, and leadership is fit and ready to identify and combat child sexual exploitation in their communities.

“Serious questions also need to be asked of Ofsted. Repeated Ofsted inspections in Rotherham failed to lift the lid on the council’s shameful inability to tackle child sexual exploitation.

“As a committee, we will want to question Ofsted about their inspection regime and ask why their inspections were so ineffective in Rotherham.”

The committee is also calling for senior council officials in post at the time to be held to account.

Mr Betts added: “Arrangements should be put in place to bring to account not just council officers still in post but those who have moved on from an authority before serious questions about their performance emerge.”