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Rotherham scandal: Council spent £30K on training for staff in secretive society

Report by the Daily Star-Sunday (Source Link) :- ‘Sonia Sharp, who now fronts an anti-bullying campaign in Australia, is a “graduate” of left-wing lobby group Common Purpose.

The network trains high fliers in the police, parliament, councils, schools, banks, the judiciary, the NHS and the Church to be better leaders.

Rotherham Council, which failed to halt the systematic sex abuse of 1,400 youngsters over 16 years, paid more than £30,000 to send Dr Sharp and seven other staff on Common Purpose courses.

Last night a mum-of-three, whose daughter was put in care in Rotherham when she was 12, said: “My daughter had problems when she was younger and has friends who were targeted by grooming gangs.

“Yet her carers didn’t seem to be bothered as most nights she was out in the town.

“Now I find out that the head of children’s services was more interested in taking courses paid for by us on how to be a good leader.

“She certainly didn’t lead by example.”

Dr Sharp had already been on a Common Purpose course paid for by Leeds Council before she joined Rotherham as Children’s Services Executive Director in 2005.

n April of that year Rotherham Council paid for her to attend another course.

And in 2005 it sent three senior staff on them.

From 2003 to 2008 eight managers attended.

Common Purpose is so secretive about its members it does not list them publicly.

But the Daily Star Sunday has seen an invoice for £1,116.25 sent to Rotherham Council for a course attended by Dr Sharp in 2005.

Other department bosses to go on courses were Scrutiny Adviser Sioned-Mair Richards, Neighbourhood and Adult Services chief Vanessa Bryan and former assist- ant Chief Executive Matt Gladstone.

In total the council spent £30,427 of taxpayers’ cash.

Common Purpose is a taxpayer-funded charity whose “graduates” sit in some of the most powerful positions in public life.

But the group was criticised in 2009 for trying to stop people investigating its activities.

It sent details of 18 people who made Freedom Of Information requests to public bodies, demanding that officials should not respond to them.

Last week MPs in Victoria, Australia slammed the appointment of Dr Sharp as Deputy Secretary of Education in 2012.

James Merlino said: “How on earth did Dr Sharp’s role in a systematic cover-up that allowed children to be raped, trafficked and abused by men in the UK not disqualify her?”

In a statement Dr Sharp said: “You can’t be a director of children’s services and not take responsibility for what happens to children.

“I am sorry that these children and young people suffered terrible abuse and I wish we could have done more to prevent the abuse of children and young people in Rotherham.”

Rotherham Council did not return calls for a comment.’