Ofsted inspectors criticised by a group of MPs for failing to’ lift the lid’ on child sexual exploitation ion Rotherham have hit back claiming they did brand the town’s council ‘inadequate’ at protecting children five years ago.
The Communities and Local Government Committee said there were ’serious flaws’ in the Ofsted inspection regime for child sexual abuse to have gone unchecked in the town for 16 years, resulting in 1,400 children being attacked by Pakistani-heritage men.
MPs on the committee produced a report on Rotherham Council’s child protection systems following the findings of Professor Alexis Jay, who said police and council chiefs turned a blind eye to the abuse because of cultural sensitivities around the ethnicity of perpetrators.
The MPs said ‘serious questions need to be asked of Ofsted’ for failing to identify the issues.
An Ofsted spokesman said: “Ofsted welcomes the opportunity to give evidence to the committee. In common with a number of organisations, we accept that past inspections may not have given child sexual exploitation the forensic focus it needed.
“That’s why last year we introduced a new and much more rigorous inspection framework for inspecting children’s services, which places a stronger emphasis on the issue.
“Inspectors now look closely at the experiences of children, focusing sharply on whether the risks of sexual exploitation are understood and acted upon by frontline agencies.
“This week we will be publishing the first in-depth nationwide survey into local authority practice and responses to child sexual exploitation.
“In recent years Ofsted gave Rotherham Council a range of judgments, finding it inadequate in 2009 on a number of safeguarding and child protection issues.”
Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said: “The shocking scale of child sexual exploitation showed there were catastrophic failures at all levels of public services in Rotherham.”
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