Norfolk education chiefs prepare their case after being summoned to meeting with schools minister David Laws

Mick Castle, chairman of the parking steering group. Picture: James Bass

Mick Castle, chairman of the parking steering group. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

Norfolk County Council's top education bosses are preparing their case after being summoned to a meeting with the minister for schools in London next week.

David Laws MP wrote to Mick Castle, the council's cabinet member for schools, in July telling him to come to his department after Ofsted branded the council's arrangements for supporting school improvement 'ineffective'.

In his letter, Mr Laws said he 'read with disappointment' the news of the judgement, but was aware 'that your local authority is fully committed to strengthening its strategy of school improvement and that you have made this clear publicly'.

The council has revealed that the meeting will take place next Wednesday, September 11, and those due to attend include Sheila Lock, the council's newly-appointed interim director of children's services, Gordon Boyd, assistant director of children's services, and James Joyce, cabinet member for safeguarding children.

Mr Castle said: 'It's an important one. We will be hoping to get on the right side of the government with regard to the progress we are making and intend to make in the coming year.


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'I think the missing ingredient from the original Ofsted was they did not seem to have confidence that we had the timelines in to achieve things by certain times, and they picked up on the fact there had been a drop in resources to help push through the improvement programme. We have addressed that.'

He pointed to last month's announcement that the council will invest £1.5m to fund school improvement, and £2.7m to hire 40 frontline social workers from an agency for six months.

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He said: 'It's the uncertainty that is the killer. When you are on the wrong side of Ofsted there's this doubt. We have seen what's happened in places like Doncaster, when the government sent in commissioners. We want to see the service improve, and run by the elected council, and we want to impress on him that we have a very experienced interim director, in terms of schools and safeguarding, and we have put in additional resources.

'I think it's a very positive story we have got. The most important thing is to get the government recognising the progress there has been so far, and we are going to make in the next nine months.'

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