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Norfolk looks Down Under for new children’s services chief

Matt Dunkley, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council ANL-171101-145459001
Matt Dunkley, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council ANL-171101-145459001

Norfolk County Council’s beleaguered children’s services department has had an interim director appointed – from the other side of the world.

The children’s services department, which has twice been rated as inadequate by watchdogs from Ofsted since 2013, lost its previous full-time director when Michael Rosen quit in November.

Matt Dunkley, a highly experienced ex-director of children’s services in East Sussex, who has been working in Australia in recent years, will join the council next month,

He takes over from current interim director Andrew Bunyan – will be in the post to see the council through its next full Ofsted inspection of children’s social care, where it aims create a clear path towards a solid ‘good’ rating.

As well as serving in East Sussex for eight years – for which work he was awarded a CBE – Mr Dunkley is also a past president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.

He has been working in Australia for the past three years, where he was a regional director for department of education and training in Victoria, and latterly has led a review of mental health services across government.

He said: “In Norfolk, I am keen to build on the ‘green shoots’ of recovery highlighted by both Ofsted and the DfE commissioner in their recent reports, as well as responding to the issues of pace of improvement in leadership they identified. There is clearly much improved practice in many parts of Norfolk children’s services and staff in the service have been working hard on improvement and deserve recognition for what they have already achieved.

“My job will be to consolidate that progress while addressing the remaining areas where we need to improve faster to reach the required standard.”

Wendy Thomson, Norfolk County Council’s managing director, said: “We are very excited about the opportunity to work with Matt, who will lead our improvement drive through the period when Ofsted is expected to return to inspect our children’s social care services.

“Matt is a well-respected figure in this field and he will also help us to recruit a permanent director while he is with us.”

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