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Ofsted comment was inaccurate

By Somerset Standard  |  Posted: July 26, 2012

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As Somerset County Council cabinet member for children and families, I would like to respond to the factually inaccurate letter from the opposition spokesman for children and families printed last week.

Her letter referred to the recent Ofsted inspection into children in council care that rated the overall standard of Somerset's provision as "Adequate".

She accuses the leader of the council, John Osman, of "seeming to believe that 'Adequate' is good enough for our Somerset children".

The exact opposite is the case. Mr Osman has stated both in private and in public that "adequate" is not good enough, as I also believe and have stated.

I refer the opposition spokesman to the words of the council chief executive officer immediately after the Ofsted report was published: "Somerset County Council aspires to so much more than being 'Adequate' in how we deliver services to children in our care … our politicians have made clear their intention to hold officers to account in ensuring a drive towards better outcomes and higher standards."

This is crystal clear. We do not accept that "Adequate" is good enough. We have already taken steps to improve. We are recruiting more social workers to help deal with the huge rise in numbers of children in care – it is worth noting that just a few years ago there were about 300 children in our care, now there are well over 500.

The opposition spokesman knows this and knows the reason behind that rise, which is linked to the Baby Peter Connolly scandal, something totally outside this council's control.

She also knows about the improvements we are seeking to bring – she knows this because she is part of the cross-party membership of a newly created Improvement Board to answer the Ofsted criticisms.

She also knows that the council leader has neither said nor implied that "Adequate was good enough" and I call on her to withdraw this factually inaccurate letter.

FRANCES NICHOLSON

Somerset County Council cabinet member for children and families

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  • That_Guy  |  July 27 2012, 8:48PM

    Ooh, let's try to avoid a disaster. We'll take twice as many children into care. Just in case. They won't be our children. So, why worry. Excellent.

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  • That_Guy  |  July 27 2012, 8:40PM

    Re "it is worth noting that just a few years ago there were about 300 children in our care, now there are well over 500". Is that because nearly twice as many children are being significantly harmed by their parents in Somerset? No, it's because some professionals, medics and social workers etc, in London failed to protect a child in London. Does that mean more children should be taken into care in Somerset? No. So why has it happened? Because the Somerset professionals were and are just guessing which children are likely to suffer significant harm? Probably.

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