I haven't commented on our Ofsted report of Safeguarding and Looked After Children in the County yet, because I wanted my response to the Lib Dems disgraceful letter to be published first. This is the letter that the Lib Dems published, the most appropriate quote is:
"The report in fact contains a pretty damning analysis of the service provided by the Conservative county council to the county's most vulnerable children."
It is this language and this sort of behaviour that really winds me up about the Lib Dems. They are quite right that we were graded overall as adequate. However, this is adequate based on a raised bar (in response to the criticisms of them after the Baby Peter case), OFSTED themselves have admitted this. In fact I wish OFSTED would get rid of the phrase "Adequate" it is misleading and invites this sort of manipulation.
My response to the Lib Dems' letter was published (at last) yesterday. It sets out where I am on this perfectly. I absolutely welcome challenge - it is a vital part of opposition and helps me to work with officers at the County Council to deliver better services, and I will always strive for the best. However, inaccurate statements that deliberately paint the services we provide as black are bad for morale and is poor opposition.
My aim as Lead Member for Children, or indeed in anything else I do, is continuous improvement and no complacency. I want to work with opposition to improve services, but when they make statements like this, they serve the County poorly and make it impossible. I should stress, out of 34 judgements made by OFSTED, not a single area was judged as Inadequate and 8 within the Looked After Children area were judge as Good.
I have to say, I have a number of issues with Ofsted and the way they currently operate - and I am not the only one. But, overall, I accept the report for Cambridgeshire as something we can learn and move forward from.
The OFSTED report can be found here.