‘If something had gone wrong the people in Norfolk would be the first to say ‘why haven’t you taken swifter action’’ - education secretary defends sending in commissioner to children’s services

Dave Hill of Essex County Council who has been brought in as a commissioner for Norfolk children's s

Dave Hill of Essex County Council who has been brought in as a commissioner for Norfolk children's services - Credit: Archant

The education secretary has defended sending a commissioner to Norfolk's children's services claiming swift action was needed.

Nicky Morgan said social services tsar Dave Hill should focus the mind of the local authority and find out where the problems are.

She said his task was to support the department and turn it around.

Executives at the council said it was a surprise to be called by journalists to be told a commissioner was coming in after Downing Street announced the move last year,

'I think the Norfolk has been given opportunities to improve and that hasn't happened. If something had gone wrong the people in Norfolk would be the first to say 'why haven't you taken swifter action',' Mrs Morgan said.


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Mr Hill, who is currently responsible for children's services at Essex County Council, has started work after education watchdog Ofsted said the most vulnerable children in the county were still being let down by Norfolk County Council after the authority was branded 'inadequate' for the second time in three years.

Two of three areas within child protection and services for children in care in Norfolk were rated as 'requires improvement', but another – support for looked after children and care leavers – was deemed inadequate. That led to an overall 'inadequate' rating, although inspectors had been content with improvement to support for schools.

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Mrs Morgan said: 'The commissioners have been brought in in places like Birmingham and Rotherham and have really been able to focus the local authorities' minds and find out what the problems really are. – whether it is issues about staff training, lack of leadership, lack of joined up working with agencies. The commissioner is able to bring that single focus. Their task is to support children's services and turn themselves around.'

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