Rotherham, Sheffield, Birmingham
I do not like moral panics and witch hunts, and I do not wish to be peevish and vindictive.
The news this morning told me that Sonia Sharpe, one-time Director of Children's Services in Rotherham and now in Victoria in Australia, is presently in the frame both there and here. She is apologising.
Also this morning Norman Perrin has made an admission on his blog. In May 2012 he had written an innocuous posting headed 'A belated farewell to Dr Sonia Sharpe':
His posting two years ago had largely comprised a statement issued by Sheffield city council – plus a link to an article in the Daily Telegraph, also pretty bland:
In his today's blog posting Norman reports –
The "Belated farewell post ...." drew 2 comments: one from Andrew Sutton commenting on Dr Sharp's approach to conductive education when she earlier worked in Birmingham and the second (posted 11 months later - April 2013) from Jim Graham who, inter alia, had this to say: ".... she then moved on to Rotherham where she has consistently failed to answer allegations that she knew about young girls being groomed for sex by Asian gangs, but she looked the other way." I had a brief email exchange with Jim Graham, in which he expanded on some of the points he had made but not about the sexual exploitation.
Five months later, early in September 2013, a telephone call was taken at Paces' office from a person acting on behalf of Dr Sharp, asking that Jim Graham's comment be removed. Having at that time no further knowledge of the allegations, I reluctantly but simply out of courtesy,"unpublished" the Comment. And there it rested until this morning...
How should one blogger respond? How should we all respond? I'd be interested in visitors' views.
The wisdom of hindsight is a wonderful thing but what does one do in Norman's circumstances. Ignore the call? Call back and ask for this in writing? If anything comes, consult a layer? I would like to think that I should have done the first...
And I would have wondered about that old definition of news, that it is what somebody does not want to see printed.
But this is now...
I have written to Norman –
There is no question about it:
And send a kind and apologetic note to Mr Graham.
Apologies to CE?
Apparently the phone call made on behalf of Ms Sharpe did not require Norman to remove my own Comment made on her departure from these shores –
Before Sheffield she was at Birmingham, as part of the educationally ideological regime of Education Officer Tim Brighouse. I never grasped that ideology. Long ago, in Vygotskii's time, it would have been deemed 'leftist': 'left in form but right in content'. In Birmingham, during the nineteen-nineties, that regime's attitude to Conductive Education was antipathetic, oppositional. Those people were our enemy, mortally so. Possibly we were theirs too. Where are they now?
Well, one at least, you tell me, finds continuing employment in education. Good luck to the Aussies, and to the little ones and their families in Victoria.
I wonder whether the day will ever come when the call goes out for apologies from all those who have so vigorously opposed Conductive Education, for the uncountable waste of human potential and family wellbeing that their actions have brought. Such a waste, so needless too (except to their own benefit and satisfaction).
Altogether a different blight at the individual level than experienced in Rotherham, and comparisons of suffering are meaningless and maybe even upsetting – but unaccountability in public office, ruining lives that the offices are meant to enhance, is a common factor that our welfare system has barely begun to grasp.
Perrin, N. (2014) The power of the internet. An awful news story. How should one respond? Paces (blog), 28 August