The core aim of the Socialist Education Association (SEA) is to promote a comprehensive, non-selective education service, based on equality of opportunity, inclusion and life-long access to excellent provision, within which compulsory education is free, well-resourced and organised within a local democratic framework.
With this in mind, the Executive of the Greater Manchester (GM) Branch of the SEA notes with interest the publication of the first part of the review of Operation Augusta, commissioned by the GM Mayor’s Office. We join many others in expressing our horror at the way extremely vulnerable young people were utterly failed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and Manchester City Council, and we express our sympathy with the survivors and their families.
We note that the report says there have been national and local improvements in the approach to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) since 2004. We also note that Manchester’s children’s services have been praised by Ofsted following a recent inspection.
We welcome the recommendation of the review of Operation Augusta to conduct investigations into the perpetrators in order to bring them to justice. We are disappointed, however, that the report does not make a similar recommendation to call to account the senior officials involved in both organisations at the time it was known the young people were being sexually exploited.
It has been stated that the decision to stop Operation Augusta was made by GMP, but given the scale and systematic nature of the exploitation and that the young people involved were in the care of the local authority, it is astonishing that this decision was accepted by the City Council.
The credibility of the leadership of any organisation rests in part on whether and how they accept accountability for past failures of that organisation. We believe the leadership of both organisations has some distance to go in that respect.
The SEA wants inclusion and equal opportunities to be at the heart of education provision. This means meeting the needs of every child and keeping them safe. There is an added duty of care for those that are looked after by the local authority. These children and young people must not be failed again. We look forward to the outcome of the second part of the review of Operation Augusta that will focus on current services.
The Executive of the GM Branch of the SEA