Norfolk Children’s Services progress on schools and safeguarding to be discussed by councillors

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The progress being made by Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services department over recent months will be discussed by councillors when they meet next week.

Members of the County Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel will meet on Thursday 6 June for the first time under the Authority’s new administration.

The Panel will discuss the Children’s Services Integrated Performance and Finance Monitoring Report (quarter 4, 2012/13). The report to next Thursday’s meeting will focus on the performance of the county’s schools.

In March this year, Ofsted undertook inspections of 28 schools in Norfolk as part of a concerted programme of action. As a result areas for development include the need to: - develop a clear strategy for school improvement, communicate this to all schools and partners, and for the County Council to intervene earlier and more robustly.

At next week’s meeting councillors will hear about work on the new programme ‘A Good School for Every Norfolk Learner’ which has recently been launched by the County Council to increase challenge for all schools to accelerate the pace of educational improvement and therefore provide every Norfolk child a place in a good school.

Mick Castle, Cabinet member for Schools at Norfolk County Council, said: “It is vitally important that every child in Norfolk has the opportunity to receive an education at a high standard. More of the county’s schools must achieve a rating of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. Although the proportion of Norfolk schools judged to be at least ‘good’ between September 2012 and Easter this year increased by 7%, I know Children’s Services wants to continue to support school improvement and one of its key priorities is to match national average Ofsted judgements by 2015.

“Ultimately school improvement rests with the schools themselves, but Norfolk County Council must challenge and support schools so that pupils can achieve their potential.”

Councillors will also hear how the County Council is implementing an improvement plan to address short-comings recently identified by Ofsted in child protection services. Immediate and three-month recommendations have already been addressed and six month recommendations are well underway.

In addition, the Panel will hear details about the Children’s Services Transformation Programme consisting of a number of projects which includes focusing on multi-agency work on for early support for families as well improving processes to speed up adoption and place more children with families.

James Joyce, Cabinet member for Safeguarding Children at the County Council, said: “Improvements in safeguarding must continue to be made and work is underway to bring about these improvements.

“During the last quarter there have been a number of areas where progress has been made such as the opening of a new Children’s Home in Norwich. Work on a property in Stratton Strawless continues which will be a children’s home due to open in the autumn.

“However, improving safeguarding will remain a top priority for the County Council in 2013/14. Driving forward positive change can only be a good thing for families in Norfolk as it will provide the reassurance they need from an Authority such as Norfolk County Council.”

Councillors at next week’s meeting will also be updated on the progress being made by the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) to identify children who are at risk of being sexually exploited and the interventions being developed to prevent further child sexual exploitation (CSE).

The meeting of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel will take place in the Edwards Room at County Hall in Norwich at 2pm on Thursday, 6 June. Members of the public are welcome to attend.