Friday, 29 August 2014


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:

Please unpublish

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 Having at that time no further knowledge of the allegations, I reluctantly but simply out of courtesy,"unpublished" the Comment.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


  1. Norman Perrin has now republished that robust Comment by Jim Graham:

  2. I can see why over a year ago that this Comment might have seemed a matter for m'learned friends. I myself knew nothing about the alleged racism in Birmingham and precious little else either and I can see why Norman acted on the side of caution. After all such BIG problems could hardly be true, could they?

    But, as Dr Goebbels would agree, that is how people get away with it. The sheer enormity of it all just adds to the plausibility.

    As I wrote earlier today unaccountability in public office, ruining lives that the offices are meant to enhance, is a common problem that our welfare system has barely begun to grasp. More bureaucratic control is hardly the answer. Was it ever thus? If not, what have we lost?

    I have written recently of the brave new 'SEN' system that from next week will be hoping to operate on procedures, but no love. The Rotherham débacle appears to illustrate the same ghastly fundamental flaw.

    I suppose that one has to think about trust too.

    By the way, who in Mr Graham? The Chief Executive of Neighbouring Warwickshire also bears this common name and might be expected to be in the local government loop, and has an interest in young children and their families. But it is a very common name.