Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Cornwall in childish scrap with Ofsted

Cornwall’s Children Services were condemned as ‘inadequate’ when recently subject to an unannounced inspection by the regulator Ofsted. Among other things, the Council was criticised for ‘ineffective leadership’ and ‘poor supervision by management’. It has a ten-year poor record. Government intervention was deemed necessary in 2006, but the expected improvement did not materialise. So again leaders are being replaced. So what assumptions are driving attempted improvement?

When a system fails, is the problem translated into ‘the leaders have failed’ (think Sharon Shoesmith)? Is it assumed that better new leaders can remedy a flawed system? Do the managers sufficiently understand the nature and dynamics of the system and its resistance?

I remember a new chairman arriving at British Airways many years ago. He was quickly flummoxed. He confessed ‘When I say what I want, nothing happens’. He didn’t understand the system and how to make it work.

Ironically, in a tit-for-tat public scrap, Ofsted is widely criticised for its own performance. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?