Both the director of children’s services and cabinet member for the county council insist they will not stand down over yesterday’s damning Ofsted report and are determined to oversee the major improvements needed.

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The authority acknowledged its safeguarding performance was “not good enough for Norfolk children and families”.

But Lisa Christensen, director of children’s services, said she did not believe the council was failing children or putting them at risk.

“No I don’t think we are failing,” she said. “It is inadequate to have inconsistency of practice but it is not that all practice is bad. Until everything is good it is not good enough, and I agree with that, but I don’t and I won’t say we are failing.”

She insisted child protection services had improved since the last assessment in 2011 following a great deal of dedication from staff.

Ms Christensen said a tougher inspection framework had been brought in with higher expectations of local authorities meaning the two assessments were not comparable.

She added: “I wasn’t expecting to get inadequate. I know we still have issues about quality and inconsistency but my view is that the service is better than it was last time.

“I think there is a lot more improvement to be done in Norfolk – that’s my job. We have made a lot of improvement and we will continue to move forward.”

Ms Christensen said responsibility for the problems would ultimately lie with her but added: “It’s important we have some stability and leadership. Before you ask, no, I’m not going to resign.”

The need for stability during what is set to be a difficult time for children’s services was echoed by cabinet member Alison Thomas.

She said: “The Ofsted report made no direct criticism of the senior leadership or political leadership. I think this would be the wrong time for somebody to resign. We would have to replace that person – how do you bring in somebody with the same level of knowledge and understanding of issues in Norfolk tomorrow to come in and get straight on with dealing with this? We would lose capacity and lose expertise and experience at the very time we need it.”

She said the council – including representatives from all parties – had worked hard following the last inspection to make improvements but she felt the increased workload and pressure on staff had made it a far more difficult situation.

She added: “If there is a suggestion that putting more money into the situation will improve it then, by all means, I will be championing for that with my fellow cabinet members but we protected the child protection services in Norfolk through the Big Conversation. I was absolutely adamant we couldn’t touch that area.

“I think it’s more about ensuring we have got consistent quality of practice. It might be about providing additional support and training for staff.”

Ms Christensen urged people to read the full Ofsted report rather than focus on the one-word judgement given by inspectors.

46 comments

  • And another thing "Gone Away". I think it is important that information about people in high profile jobs is shared. We're all sick to death of cover-ups like the Savile saga, the NHS whistleblowers, MPs expenses etc. That's how people get away with things because it's all hushed up.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • So in the week that the prime minister, (the conservative party leader,), has said he wants medical staff who are not performing as well as they should to get the sack, as they are risking patient safety. Local conservatives & their employees are accused of serious under performing & of directly putting children's safety at risk as a direct result of that ineptness & they say, we will not take responsibility for what we have done. Could this be yet more Tory hypocrisy & double standards?? Surely not..

    Report this comment

    el84

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • JB, it's called the free press, by jove. Free to publish what they like and free to gag you from using their website posting.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • It was not possible to process your activation? my comment had been approved on a different comment .

    Report this comment

    miss Anon

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • The arrogance of these people is overwhelming, and sadly the attitude of Ms Christensen and her cronies pervades every level of Childrens Services. As a foster carer, we are unable to criticise any decision made by the "professionals" involved in cases, and are punished if we do so. These people do not make mistakes, they know it all. Sadly it seems that they do not, but anyone who dares to criticise is wrong and is dealt with. The power that these people (who, quite frankly would last about 1 day in the private sector) have is frightening. Almost as frightening as their total self belief. Alison Thomas' comment about additional training being required is a joke too - these people are never around when you really need to contact them, they're always on a tranining course!

    Report this comment

    ADB

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • In reply to C. Hamment, this does not surprise me. I was told by a Norfolk HT that they had to start people without CRB checks because County Hall were so slow at doing them. If they didn't there would be staffing problems. I personally (as a helping parent) was once left in charge of a bunch of seven-eight year olds to help them get changed after swimming. I was CRB checked at the time (school didn't know this) and I wondered how many other people had been put in such a situation - a paedophile would view such an opportunity as all their Christmases come at once. As someone Child Protection trained it was frightening.

    Report this comment

    Paul

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • BBC moderators, EDP moderators, what's the difference - they're all "in it together".

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Electra, Your friends fate is already sealed. Even though all the fault may be with NCC they will never admit to wrong doing. Tour friend may find a suitable solicitor but will never find a barrister to take on the council with their bottomless pit of our money. The best thing your friend can do is spread the details to the world because as I said, her fate is already sealed

    Report this comment

    theanchovy

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Under today’s headline - Could Jennifer Mills-Westley murder have been prevented? The revelation [that her murderer had been released from a Welsh psychiatric unit but months before] led to a call for an “urgent” inquiry by politicians including Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who said at the time that “everyone in Hellesdon and the UK wants to know how this tragedy happened”. Published yesterday was a statement from the victim’s daughters, who have endured the heartache of losing their mother to this horrendous crime for the past 21 months, in which they thanked those who have supported them through this ordeal. “Words alone cannot express our thanks to the support provided by Victim Support and the Lucie Blackman Trust - Missing Abroad. However, despite our expectations, we have been disappointed by the lack of any other support; notably the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our mum’s MP in her hometown of Norfolk.” The MP in question is Chloe Smith.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Ofsted should urgently examine Norfolk Adult Social Care, especially Mental Health. I was at the Council budget meeting last Monday when they voted out two reasonable proposals to shore up mental health services. Norfolk PLC and the Tories therein are only interested in shoring up their finances and nothing else. With 'localism' in place they could go their own way and show some humanity!

    Report this comment

    micox

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Not putting children at risk? Then why are school's allowed to employ TA's without them being CRB checked? I know of one primary school in the Great Yarmouth area who employed an individual without having a CRB check complete and another at the same school had been working their over 2 months and still had not received there's. I was shocked to find this out and believe that this is a serious risk to childrens safety. Something I feel needs to be addressed.

    Report this comment

    Christian Hamment

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Overall effectiveness -Inadequate The effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers - Inadequate The quality of practice -Inadequate Leadership and governance - Inadequate

    Report this comment

    theanchovy

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • Why did the head of adoption leave?

    Report this comment

    theanchovy

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • My 2010 High Court victory against Norfolk Children’s Services “with far-reaching implications for local authority duties towards foster carers” was not even mentioned on the EDP or Evening News websites! What is important is that those in authority should be brought to operate within the prescriptions of the law, with the principles of transparency and fairness to all guiding their policies, procedures and actions. The press and the rest of the media have an important role to play in contributing to promote this outcome by clear and unbiased reporting of matters of public interest. Knowledge is power, it is said; by keeping the public informed about matters involving the Local Authority the media can contribute to a critical assessment of their performance in office, thus empowering the people on whose votes councillors depend to gain or maintain their office. Raymond Bewry

    Report this comment

    Ray

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • ADB - You must have issues if you need to contact these people and they are never around... I've never needed to contact them and I have children.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • 3rd time lucky maybe...google...Mother wins apology after council tries to take her disabled children away

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • Like many at Norfolk CC they are simply not up to the job and if they won't stand down then they should be dismissed, pronto.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • @samphirelover - any particular reason why she should have divulged this historical information? She was under no obligation to do so, and misled no-one.

    Report this comment

    GoneAway

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Andy T - he WAS her husband when she applied for and was appointed to such a responsible post with NCC.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Well, there's no surprise. Theres no point at which the rubbish resigns or takes responsibility for anything they do. No doubt if Norfolk CC 'professionals' personally machine-gunned children they wouldn't feel it a resigning matter.

    Report this comment

    Paul

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • One further point that has not been raised in the posts, Lisa Christensen has been in the post for several years now, something like 7 or 8 I think. She is clearly responsible for the shortcomings and asking for more time is beyond belief. If she does not think that has happened is a failure, her failure, then I dread to think what is.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Stand down? I should jolly well think not. No one who has been allowed to get their snout so thoroughly embedded in the public sector trough while at the same time delivering such a shockingly poor service could reasonably be expected to leave of their own accord. The normal behaviour for public "servants" at this level is to hold out for a "golden farewell" compensation deal or go running to tribunal for unfair dismissal if pushed. Anyway, in the grand scheme of things the failure to look after a few vulnerable children is hardly going to lose the Tories many votes come May, so it would appear that they have judged this rather well.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Does nobody in the Public Sector accept any responsibility for their actions anymore? And what a stupid comment that it is the wrong time, reading the full report it is clear it is the right time!

    Report this comment

    ExPat

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • many of these issues regarding child protection were exposed 10 years ago when the bnp exposed the grooming issue only for their leader to be threatened with court action and jail for exposing what group was involved. This was covered up for years until recently when action was taken against these people. Our children deserve protection and its a disgrace that they are being let down

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • john i totally agree with you. in the real world, if a comanies results had not improved from one year to the next, and this happens to be the result here, then the business makes changes, however what has happened is the key people continue to take gilt edged salaries with gilt edged perks and pensions>>>>> where is the interest? i know because we have just resigned as foster carers after just 7 months!!!, they are beaucratic, incompetent, unprofessional and the whole system is biased. need some lessons in customer care, both for their clients (the kids) and the suppliers (the foster carers)

    Report this comment

    JB

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Alison Thomas confirms a highly dysfunctional Tory cabinet.When you are conditioned to think Norfolk County Council is Norfolk PLC things like services for vulnerable kids certainly aren't a priority.It proves the Big Conversation was actually one big cuts fishing exercise to see what the Tories could get away with.Nasty stuff from the nasty party.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • samphirelover - you are talking about an ex husbands' past, not Lisa Christeneson's.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • If I don't deliver at work I get fired - what's the difference with them?

    Report this comment

    richard black

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • why has my comment not been submitted

    Report this comment

    miss Anon

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • ADB and samphire lover i agree with you whole heartedly. i have had 3 messages blocked for whatever reason..... obviously the papers are now protecting them as well... absolutely shocking response to a damning report. i can only confirm everything they have said as an extremely angry foster carer. false information, bunch of unprofessional compliance administrators. get them out and get caring people in who make decisions and create action. in a cost effective timely manner.

    Report this comment

    JB

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • It is nonsense for Alison Thomas to say that there is no direct criticism of the senior leadership. If the report says that the service is inadequate the leadership is to blame. The clue is in the word - leadership. Clearly Lisa Christenesen has not yet faced up to the problem by effectively saying that OFSTED is wrong. If she was surprised at the report she is by her own implication, not up to the job, and to blame higher expectations is not credible.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Lisa Christensen should resign. Actually she should have been sacked long ago. It was her who approved the forced removal of 3 small children from a Cromer couple who were wrongly accused of harming one of them. The parents were eventually cleared but it was too late as Ms Christensen had also approved for them to be adopted. They will never get them back despite having done nothing wrong. This was national news a few years ago.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • The story below didn't make news in any of our local rags....why???big up for the telegraph

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • Norfolk children's services are totally incompetent , they hide behind " the child s best interests " but i know no they have not got the children's best interests but only they interests and they they will go to any lengths to get what they want to win cases they destroy families .

    Report this comment

    miss Anon

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • just look at the recent news on the savile case when bbc staff were asked for their honest opinions about savile .Only to find out their evidence had been deleted BY THE BBC MODERATER. These people include jeremy paxman and chris pattern

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Are Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber aka Thomas and Christensen still there? Why? How many more children and foster carers and parents have to suffer before we are rid of these inadequates. I had to sit and listen to a shop assistant last Wednesday who was crying uncontrollably because Childrens Services were causing her no end of problems. After half an hour I left her with the advice she gets a rottweiler of a solicitor on legal aid and asks the judge to interview everyone involved instead of listening to Thomas and Christensen's employees. Her story was terrible but I cannot give details because knowing how hateful these people can be it would seal her fate if they realised who she was. Poor lady. Anyone who gets involved in fostering deserves a medal when you consider what they have to put up with.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • Andy T - unless you actually foster children you have missed ADBs point. read what he has said! being a foster carer has procedures beyond belief and with that comes decisions and the need to speak to people in "power" and as you say you can never find them when you may need them. Even to get a child in cares Haircut!!! Mr cameron- i hope your name is not David... if so how sad. you got it exactly freedom of press therefore they need to publish what is said.... bearing in mind there was nothing worse than what has already been written.

    Report this comment

    JB

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • I have taken their advice and read the entire report. All sections are 'Inadequate'. What part of that word don't they understand!

    Report this comment

    Jacob Burns

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • ADB and Samphitelover - absoluterly brilliant comments and feedback> my wife and i are extremely bitter foster carers who have just resigned after 7 months due to a complete and utter shambles. I am waiting for the right opportune moment to publish the farcical time we have had and the shambolic way we have been treated. a complete and utter useless bunch of compliance administrators, only interested in preserving their civil service benefits and pensions>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Report this comment

    JB

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • ADB - You must have issues if you need to contact these people and they are never around... I've never needed to contact them and I have children.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • milecross, I suspect the words in your penultimate sentence have been jumbled up by an unknown moderator. Should it read "and we are told a lie we in democratic country with free speech"?

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • @mr cameron. i agree with you . As for the bbc it paints itself as sqeaky clean . It is far from that now . Even posts on its webpage about savile were deleted . The daily mail was highly critical of the bbc savile report which had huge sections deleted by their moderater. And we are told we lie in a democratic country with free speech . This is not the first time the bbc has covered up a massive child abuse case

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • I wouldn't know about the child protection services but I do know that the education department is pretty useless. I've had direct experience of them signing off as competent teachers that haven't made the grade just because its easier to do that than tackle an issue and there is no structured leadership driving innovation and school improvement. One of the main problems as I see it is that many of the school advisors are failed head teachers. Talk about the blind leading the blind...

    Report this comment

    Betty Swallocks

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • I don't remember reading anything about this shocking story on the edp site....http:www.telegraph.co.ukhealthhealthnews9755850Mother-wins-apology-after-council-tries-to-take-her-disabled-children-away.html

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • If the services are inconsistent it means that not all families are receiving the same quality of service. This in turn means that those children and families who are victims of these inconsistencies ARE being failed! Child Services aren't just there to protect children who are at risk but help prevent problems with families from occurring in the first place. It is completely unacceptable for the head of a constantly failing and inadequate public service to defend their record when Ofsted show that provision has declined further since the last inspection! What if a Headteacher tried to defend their school for being put on Special Measure? They couldn't and she should be no different. After the last inspection she should've consulted with councils that ARE doing their jobs, such as Staffordshire County Council who are consistently Outstanding, and changed her practices to match. Her arrogance is astounding.

    Report this comment

    Dan

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • It is generally accepted that good governance involves supervision of the most senior public servants by elected politicians.Alison Thomas therefore has a supervisory public duty to monitor the chief officer of that part of the council.To establish whether Alison Thomas has indeed failed to supervise requires enquiry outside of the council's usual purview.This is what must happen as the electorate have a right to know whether our county's children are safe or not.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

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