The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry on Wednesday (5 August) began hearing evidence from former Director of Education, Mr John Rodhouse.
Speaking via audio link from Norfolk, Mr Rodhouse was taken through his statement by Inquiry Counsel, Mr Patrick Sadd. During his 16-year tenure, Children’s Services was part of the Education Department.
Mr Rodhouse worked as a teacher and in educational administration roles in Essex and Bedford before being appointed as Director of Education in 1973. He continued until 1989 and then went on to write a report about the content of a new law for education in Jersey.
He described his first impressions and noted that the island was not affected by the 1944 Education Act which had brought enormous changes in education in the UK. He also stated that comparisons with the UK were not fair and that some of the problems Jersey experienced could be attributed to the difference in scale between Jersey and UK.
Mr Rodhouse set out what he described as the unique system of government that he found in Jersey and gave an oversight of the various services being carried out by committees and how decisions were made. His role, he said, was to carry out the will of the Committee, the people who worked in the services and the people who used them.
He described the relationship between the committees and the parishes and factors that contributed to delays in getting policies changed or implemented. He talked about his failure to convince any of the presidents of the Education Committee he served (apart from the last), that a new education law was necessary. He observed that there was a great emphasis on knowing people and connecting with them.
He talked about his duties as Director of Education, how staff were recruited, the role of the Children's Officer, issues of confidentiality and budgetary allocation.
He recalled visiting Haut de la Garenne, the standard of child care provision, staffing and discussions around the Education Committee closing the home.
Mr Rodhouse said he was astonished when he heard of the allegations of abuse at HDLG and did not recognise the negative descriptions of the home given to the IJCI by at least two people who worked in Children’s Services.
Mr Sadd asked about staff performance and drinking issues, their treatment of the children, residential staff visitors to HDLG and the relationship between the former head of Children’s Services, Charles Smith, and Jim Thomson, a Child Care Officer and then Superintendent at HDLG.
Mr Rodhouse will resume giving his evidence at a later date.
Transcripts and supporting documents will be available in due course.
Public hearings resume 0900 tomorrow (Thursday 6 August) with Mr Tony Le Sueur concluding his evidence about Children’s Services.