I absolutely don’t want to get involved in the Baby P issue from a safeguarding angle because it is taken as read that there must have been a catastrophic breakdown in communication and systems within many agencies and over a long period of time to lead to the tragic death of this young boy.
My biggest surprise and concern about the review of this breakdown is that Ed Balls is the Secretary of State leading on it. I think I’d almost forgotten that he was anything other than ‘Education’.
I know that amongst certain circles the forever changing initials of the government department that covers schools and education policy is simply a source of amusement (are we a furniture shop or a radio station this year?) but this case has added a new dimension of confusion to the state of affairs.
How is it possible for one government department and therefore, ultimately, one Secretary to be overseeing SATs, diplomas, children’s minimum wage, free school meals and youth crime – to take at random some of the recent headlines concerning Mr. Balls (and excluding the continuing veiled comments about leadership challenges)
Am I being too simplistic to imagine that whilst joined up thinking is a great idea, and children, schools and family are all clearly linked, “education and schools” is a department on its own and doesn’t have the same need to links to the health or social services that “children and families” is likely to. Similarly when there are such monumental procedural breakdowns in place in both areas I feel we owe it to our children to make sure that there is a government department in place and focused on improving their quality of life.
I ask myself if I’m being selfish wanting a department just for schools? Or am I being too naïve harking back to the ‘good old days’ of a single Department of Education or Education and Skills. It’s all the more galling as not so long ago the Department of Justice was created removing ‘police’ from the same department responsible for ‘law and courts’. Did you know we had a Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills? Even that seems like a reasonable place for schools rather than with families. I can reassure myself that this is not selfishness it’s frustration and a craving to see things getting better.
Anyway, rant over, it’s just what surprised me, tragically all of the other themes running through this case are becoming far too commonplace.