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Was anyone else aware that Sharon Shoesmith (Baby P) now makes money as a conference speaker? Surely that is completely wrong?

(28 Posts)
RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 09:39:45

DH has just rung me from a conference he's at and told me that Sharon Shoesmith, whose incompetence had a role to play in the death of Baby P, is the keynote speaker today.

Apparently she's talking about 'Uncertainty in social care, is it our only option?' or something along those lines.

I am struggling to understand

1) why anyone would want her to speak about any kind of social care, given the findings of the enquiry in Haringay Social Services at the time and

2) why she thinks it is acceptable for her to do such a thing with her past record?

Apparently BBC News, Sky and ITV News are at the conference covering it but why on earth is it happening in the first place?

My instinct is that it is just plain wrong on every level.

I presume no-one's actually going to employ her within a social services department, so I'd imagine it's the only way she can use her qualifications to earn a living?

notpartofthelifeplan Fri 07-Jan-11 09:42:55

It doesn't surprise me at all. I have worked with many many incompetent directors who have been "paid off" and they all fall on their feet.

The problem is that there are far too many organisations prepared to waste their money on so called experts who know nothing.

Chil1234 Fri 07-Jan-11 09:45:23

She's someone with a lot of experience in the field of social services even if she left it under a cloud after mistakes were made at the end. She's also a way of attracting attention to the conference.

BooBooGlass Fri 07-Jan-11 09:46:30

I agree with chil. As much as it rankles, she did not kill that baby. She didn't prevent it for sure, but she is not to blame.

piprabbit Fri 07-Jan-11 09:46:31

I'd rather she earned her money than sit around on benefits waiting to die.
Presumably the people employing her services feel she has something to offer - otherwise the work will soon dry up and she'll be out of a job again.

What else do you think she should be doing?

wannaBe Fri 07-Jan-11 09:48:10

well, I wouldn't employ her, but realistically what do you expect? That people who have been sacked for incompetence in one place be forced to never work again and spend the rest of their lives on benefits?

RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 09:58:19

'I'd rather she earned her money than sit around on benefits waiting to die.'

That's rather simplistic don't you feel?

There are thousands of other jobs she could get that would mean she was earning and not be on benefits.

But public speaking on this topic, given the history of what happened under her watch, and being paid thousands of pounds to do it smacks to me of cashing in. If the Baby P incident hadn't happened then she would be in an excellent position to speak publicly about social care but I do think with the outright criticisms of her and her leadership in the report that it is inappropriate.

The publicity for the conference bit is a misnomer too. It's the final (half) day today so by the time the news stories go out it will pretty much be over.

BooBooGlass Fri 07-Jan-11 10:00:08

How do you know she's being paid thousands of pounds?

RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 10:03:39

Because DH organises conferences like this (although not this one) and employs keynote speakers.

The smallest fee for a speaker at a conference of this size is £2.5-3k, some go up to £10-15k.

piprabbit Fri 07-Jan-11 10:05:45

You are guessing then.

Chil1234 Fri 07-Jan-11 10:24:04

Why shouldn't she cash in on her experiences, good as well as bad? It's not like she's a convicted criminal. If no-one wanted to listen to what she had to say, she wouldn't get booked and she'd have to do something else.

RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 10:28:41

Slightly, but is is an informed guess.

Given that DH used to be paid £1k as a pretty much nobody to speak at similar conferences, it's not a wild guess.

Given that she was removed from her post over 3 years ago and presumably (although I don't know for sure) hasn't worked within a SS department since, I would also question the validity and current relevance of what she will be talking about.

I was hoping to have some kind of intelligent discussion about this as it does bother me and I wonder if I'm being an Outraged from Tunbridge Wells Daily Mail reader in my reaction.

I suppose that at the end of the day, I feel that if I was Sharon Shoesmith and was in her circumstances, with her history, I wouldn't be offering myself as an 'expert' speaker in the field.

hildathebuilder Fri 07-Jan-11 10:29:02

She didn't kill Baby P. She was working in social care and a tragedy happened, she may not have prevented it but then again neither did a lot of other people. I have to say that working in this field I suspect there is a large element of there but for the grace of god (I don't work as a social worker for the record, I'm a lawyer) and while we hope and pray this doesn't happen often it may well happen again. Personally I feel sorry for her, she was vilified by the press (almost more than the parents were) she was fired, and is virtually unemployable. She is entitled to make a living and although I almost never agree with Chil, in this case I do she is not a convicted criminal cashing in on a crime.

Merrylegs Fri 07-Jan-11 10:30:14

Who is the conference aimed at? If it is those in social work and Children's Services they might find her experiences useful. Unfortunately Baby P was not an isolated incident. There are many children known to social services who die at the hands of their parents/carers.

piprabbit Fri 07-Jan-11 10:32:30

I'm guessing that, in an effort to build her reputation as a conference speaker and have high profile event on her CV, she did it for expenses.

I don't know - but neither do you.

RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 10:37:38

True, she's not a convicted criminal but she was very, very heavily criticised in all of the reports and enquiries surrounding the Baby P case and Haringey SS at the time.

As I said in my X-post, it was over 3 years ago, how relevant is her knowledge now? SS have been through massive changes in that time - does she have working knowledge of the changes?

Leaving the Baby P issue aside as far as is possible, it's her time out of the field I suppose I'm questioning as much as anything. I don't understand the reasoning behind why someone with no recent working experience is commenting on the current situation.

But yes, chil, if no one employed her as a speaker then she would have to do something else, it just seems odd that people obviously do.

Bramshott Fri 07-Jan-11 10:37:59

I would think she probably has useful experience / insights to offer which can't be offered by someone still working for Social Services. Baby P was not the first child known to social services to be killed by his carers and certainly won't be the last. There is no way to keep 100% of children, 100% safe, 100% of the time. The best we can do is try to learn from scenarios where things go right, and those where things went wrong, which is where Sharon Shoesmith's experience can be useful.

I've said this before, but we don't blame the police when someone is murdered because "they didn't prevent it", but somehow we expect social workers to be infallible.

BadgersPaws Fri 07-Jan-11 10:38:02

If every attendee at the conference felt the same way and just got up and walked out when she appeared her new career would be pretty short lived...

RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 10:46:29

It's an education conference but obviously SS and education are linked more closely now - partially I believe as a result of the Baby P enquiries/recommendationations.

Hilda, I have never once said that she killed him or that it was her fault. I have been very careful not to couch it in those terms as I am very aware of how she was treated in the media. Of course she's entitled to make a living but is this really the right way?

'Cashing in' was a bit too sensationalist and perhaps Pipirabbit is right, she is doing it for expenses, but I still question the validity of her past experience in the current changes in SS.

Snorbs Fri 07-Jan-11 10:47:15

It's a tricky area. Sharon Shoesmith's failure to lead her department properly arguably, and indirectly, lead to the death of a child. Tony Blair's failure to act like a decent human being arguably, and indirectly, lead to the deaths of thousands of civilian men, women and children in Iraq. Both are making money on the speaker circuit.

I think the best that one can personally do in such circumstances is to make a point of not attending the keynote. If a speaker doesn't draw an audience they'll soon get dropped.

RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 10:57:39

Badger, Dh's gut instinct was to boycott it but maybe I should ask him to go so he can give us an informed account of what she says.

Bramshott, I can see where you're coming from. Being an outsider but still knowledgable in the field, that makes sense.

The police analogy isn't the same though. When a known criminal or someone on bail who should be under supervision/awareness of the police commits a murder the blame is levelled at the police and their actions investigated.

If Baby P wasn't known to SS and all the past contacts hadn't happened then it would be the same as a random murder in the same vein as Jo Yeates, for example. The police aren't to blame there and neither would SS, to an extent, been.

But they did know so we do, not unreasonably, expect them to have acted and prevented it.

RoseMortmain Fri 07-Jan-11 10:59:25

Very true Snorbs.

wannaBe Fri 07-Jan-11 11:01:17

but lots of people leave their areas of expertees and go on to public speaking. They don't just do it for the first three months while their knowledge is up-to-date, they presumably keep abreast of changes within the field in order that they can speak authoritatively and knowledgeably on the subject, so your argument there is totally invalid.

You are clearly back-tracking on your outraged she-was-responsible-for-baby-p stance.

"there are thousands of other things she could do." such as? It's hard enough to get a job at the moment even if you have the right qualifications, but when you've been sacked from your managerial position because of presumed failings you're not likely to gain another one, and she's not likely to get a job in tesco because she's over qualified. Believe me I know enough people who have been made redundant to know that walking into a job is very, very difficult, and almost impossible to walk into a simple job if you have any kind of qualifications - the lower-paid job market can pick and choose.

Her only realistic option would be to become self-employed, and it seems clear she has done just that.

A very high profile death occurred under her watch. How many children do you think were saved in the same time? But of course all that is irelevant isn't it. hmm

WimpleOfTheBallet Fri 07-Jan-11 11:02:07

I'd walk out of there.

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