Watchdogs to inspect whether services for Norfolk’s most vulnerable children are still ‘inadequate’

Sheila Lock, interim director of children's services at Norfolk County Council.

Sheila Lock, interim director of children's services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

Inspectors from watchdog Ofsted will return to Norfolk within five months to gauge whether the county council is still failing the county's most vulnerable children.

Last year, the council's children's services department received three damning reports from inspectors - which led to the departure of the department's head.

In a six-month period, Ofsted branded the council's arrangements for protecting children and its services for looked-after children as 'inadequate', and said the council's support for school improvement was 'ineffective'.

The criticism led to the resignation of children's services director Lisa Christensen, following pressure from MPs, and the appointment of interim director Sheila Lock.

This week, Ofsted announced, following a further inspection, that the council had turned around its performance with regards its support to schools, which is now rated 'effective'.

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But the council is still waiting for the Ofsted inspectors to return to run the rule over whether its efforts to improve the rest of the service have paid off.

A spokeswoman for the council said: 'We're expecting our arrangements for safeguarding children and our services for looked after children to be inspected again before the end of the year, but don't know exactly when these inspections will take place.'

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An improvement board was set up to oversee efforts to turn the service around and the council launched a recruitment drive to bring in new social workers.

The department submitted a children's services improvement plan to the Department for Education, to show the action taken since those highly critical reports.

The plan sets a target for protection of children to be rated 'good' by Ofsted by March in 2016.

Ms Lock has previously said that was based on three priorities - giving children and young people a voice, reorganising the children's services workforce and working more closely with the clinical commissioning groups to put together better care packages for youngsters.

• Do you have a story about a local council? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email

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