Inspectors welcome Norfolk County Council children’s services unit improvements

County Hall Norwich
County Hall Norwich

Officials have begun to tackle the weaknesses within Norfolk County Council’s troubled children’s services department, Ofsted inspectors say.

The findings are contained in a letter published on Friday, following the body’s latest monitoring assessment of the unit last month.

The visit was the third of its kind to be undertaken since the department was declared to be inadequate in 2015.

The report praised the “clear sense of purpose and direction” provided by the department’s new leadership team and the measures taken to improve monitoring of children believed to be at risk of sexual exploitation.

It further welcomed increased support for foster carers and improved support for care leavers including a rise in the numbers remaining in education, employment or training.

But inspectors also warned that the pathway plans drawn up for care leavers were not challenging enough, with many only holding low-skilled jobs, and more work was needed to improve planning in the area of child protection.

Matt Dunkley’s the authority’s interim director of children’s services, said: “Our staff are absolutely committed to getting it right for Norfolk’s children and young people.

“I am sure they will heartened that their hard work is paying off and that improvements in the day to day support we give to Norfolk’s young people are being recognised.

“There is still variability and we need to ensure that our practice is consistently good.

“We are working to improve technology, support more remote working and recruit more experienced staff to support further improvement but we are clearly moving in the right direction at pace.”

Managing director Wendy Thomson said the progress made so far gave the council “the really strong foundations” needed to make further progress.