The EDP says: Crucial that issues which have dragged down Norfolk County Council’s children’s services are finally resolved

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich.

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Four years have now passed since watchdogs first said Norfolk County Council was failing to adequately protect children in the county.

Inspectors from Ofsted have been back this week for one of their regular monitoring visits to check on progress in the children's services department.

We sincerely hope that this time they will find the rate of progress is rapid enough.

Last November they did not. They said the department, twice rated inadequate since 2013, was still not providing a consistently good enough service for vulnerable children.

That monitoring report was alarming. When children's services were rated inadequate for the second time in 2015, the council felt hard done by.

Inspectors had rated three of five areas inspected as 'requires improvement', a step up from 'inadequate'. But with two other areas deemed 'inadequate' the overall rating remained 'inadequate'. Inspectors spoke of 'widespread and serious failures'.

It felt as if the council had been unlucky. But in November, Ofsted were critical again - over the pace of change and poor management.

This is a department which does crucial work. And the fact that fours years down the line serious concerns remain is why we are scrutinising it as part of our new Fighting For Their Futures campaign.

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Our campaign will include both the good and the bad news.

We are not naive enough to believe turning around a failing department is easy, especially at a time when the government is giving less money to councils.

And we have huge respect for those social workers using good social care practice to protect children and to keep families together where possible.

Some of what we are reporting goes back a number of years, but we believe that looking back is essential to learn lessons for the future.

There is a new man at the helm of children's services. Matt Dunkley is committed to seeing the department through to the next, crucial Ofsted inspection and for the sake of children in this county, we want to see him succeed.