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New executive director of children's services in Norfolk praises its 'track record for improvements'

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

The new executive director of Norfolk's children's services department has praised its track record for making improvements.

Sara Tough. Photo: Norfolk County CouncilSara Tough. Photo: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk County Council’s children’s services committee meeting on Tuesday was the first since Sara Tough took up the role at the head of the troubled department.

The meeting came at the start of a two-week inspection into the department by Ofsted. In its last two - in 2013 and 2015 - it was rated inadequate.

Speaking at the meeting, after a report into the future of the county’s education landscape was presented, Mrs Tough said: “I thought this was a very well detailed report and I want to share with you that I have been really impressed with the education teams we have in children’s services.

“Quite clearly we have a track record over last few years of making improvements, particularly focused on quality of education and effectiveness in the provision.”

The meeting heard the children’s services revenue budget could overspend by £4m in 2017/18, while the schools’ revenue budget has a projected overspend of £7m.

Mrs Tough said: “The money is being spent well and is being invested in areas where it is making a difference to our children.

“However, we have a budget and we need to work together to make sure we can work within the budget we have.”

Later in the meeting, plans for a social impact bond to bring down the number of children in care were debated. The council said it was likely to hear back on its plans, and its bid for Big Lottery Life Chances Fund (BLLCF) cash, in roughly two months.

The scheme would see a subsidiary company formed, which private investors put money into. They would then be paid if the intervention it pays for and contracts succeeds in keeping children out of care.

Labour’s Emma Corlett raised concerns over the payments being dependent on the number of days children spend in care, rather than outcomes for children.

She said: “I just feel very uneasy that the outcome is based on that measure, rather than what’s actually happening to those young people that do return to families or don’t come into care in the first place.”

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