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Ofsted has responded to a serious case review into the rape of a child at Little Stars nursery in Birmingham by apologising for failing “to stop this dangerous and manipulative child abuser sooner”.
Jailed for life in 2011, 21-year-old nursery worker Paul Wilson pleaded guilty to raping a child in the nursery and admitted 47 counts of grooming teenage girls over the internet.
The serious case review report said 'there were obvious pointers that should have raised the alarm, yet both Ofsted and the local authority failed to recognise them and respond appropriately in a coordinated manner'.
Louise Soden, Ofsted’s regional director for West Midlands, apologised for the failures from Ofsted and said: “We very much regret that our inspection regime in 2010 did not help to stop this dangerous and manipulative child abuser sooner.
“We have long since strengthened our inspection and investigation practices to tighten the processes that existed at the time. Local authorities have the lead responsibility for investigating child protection matters and we have worked to clarify our respective roles so that nothing falls through the net.”
The serious case review revealed that it was known by the nursery, Ofsted and the local authority that Mr Wilson had a ‘special friendship’ with the child which was not examined in more detail.
Proper safeguarding procedures were not followed at the nursery as it found the abuse of the child had taken place in the bathroom which was located off the room in which Wilson worked. Mobile phones were not allowed in the nursery but were kept in staff pockets in the kitchen area. On the two occasions when he filmed the abuse, he was bringing the child in from the outside play area to go to the toilet and had to pass through the kitchen and was able to get his phone from his pocket.
The review said Ofsted and Birmingham City Council failed to properly investigate concerns that were raised about the ‘special relationship’, and the serious case review also criticised the nursery’s inspection process which was found to lack depth.
Jane Held, independent chair of the multi-agency Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board, which carried out the serious case review said: “Responsibility for this awful abuse must, and does, lie with the perpetrator. He was clever, duplicitous and manipulative and took advantage of weaknesses in the system.
“Parents should be able to trust the people they leave their children with to ensure that children are properly protected. In this case there were unfortunately a number of weaknesses in the way that nursery was run and a number of opportunities to intervene earlier and prevent the continuation of abuse which were missed.”
The serious case review report concluded there was:
* Poor management within the nursery
* A failure on the part of Ofsted and the local authority to investigate properly concerns about the Wilson's behaviour
* A lack of rigour and depth to inspection processes
* National issues relating to the quality of early years qualifications
* A need for more resources to be made available to police so they can respond to the increasing incidence of internet abuse
The review also called for 'those responsible for managing individual nurseries to make sure that the highest standards are maintained in relation to safeguarding practice and create a culture where the voice of everyone in the staff team, including students on placement, is valued and heard'.
The full report can be found here http://www.lscbbirmingham.org.uk/images/stories/downloads/executive-summaries/Published_Overview_Report.pdf