Monday, 20 April 2009

New Questions For RBC Children's Services Head

The report into allegations of bullying within Reading Borough Council's social services team has been published amid speculation that no action will be taken against any individual.

Michael Hake interviewed 38 members of staff during his investigation.

He found significant numbers who felt they had been bullied, but that their descriptions did not match accepted definitions based on ACAS guidelines. He concluded that a change of management in 2006/7 had resulted in "a mismatch in expectations, misunderstandings, frictions and a measure of disengagement by some staff" as bad communication left some staff feeling unsupported.

RBC Chief Executive Michael Coughlin echoed the findings of the report and downplayed public fears about the local service which became entangled in the series of scandals gripping the nation.

Mr Coughlin expressed regret for the events which made the the investigation necessary as he reiterated the call for better management.

Meanwhile Janestheone has published a letter detailing how similar allegations of bullying continue to dog Reading's director of Children's Service's, Anna Wright.

W Tyler writes to explain that Ms Wright was employed as Director of Schools at Surrey County Council for 2 years, before moving to Reading in 2006 as part of the new management team criticised in the new investigation.

During her time at Surrey controversy struck as a popular headteacher was forced to quit her job after a concerted campaign was launched by governors as they undertook a political campaign seeking to change the status of the school [1].

At a hearing in March this year the former headteacher was awarded £407,700 in damages against the local authority as it was found that Anna Wright was guilty of 'excessive tolerance' and a 'lack of timely intervention'.

Summing up Judge Williams described Ms Wright as more interested in appeasing the vocal campaigners than considering the welfare of the school and its staff.

Representatives for the claimant explained that Surrey CC had "flouted its legal duties... despite repeated warnings" and were responsible for unnecessarily contributing to a situation which created a culture of fear and neglect, thereby placing individuals at serious risk.


Update: Cllr Swaine adds to the knowledge in the public sphere by explaining that the council workers' trade union pre-agreed definitions of 'intent' which made the results of the finding virtually secure from the outset.

Oranjepan asks:
Is it only coincidence that Ms Wright has been in charge during two periods of scandal in different local authorities which have lead to similar criticism of the management in her department?


  1. I believe that the answer to your question is "Yes, it is a coincidence".

  2. Thanks for the comment Anon, I'm sure other readers would appreciate it if you have anything to add which supports that opinion.

  3. There's no such thing as coincidence.


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