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Ofsted inspection report published for Poole Children's Centres

The results of the Ofsted inspection of Poole Children’s Centres carried out in July 2014 have now been published.

The centres, which are registered as a group, were judged to provide good access to services by young children and families. Having previously been rated by inspectors as inadequate, a great deal of progress has been made in the last year to raise the overall rating. Whilst both inspectors and the Local Authority agree that there are still improvements to be made, praise was given for the major changes that have been made in the delivery of services, which has resulted in significant improvements. 

Staff were judged to have worked tirelessly to increase the numbers of families registered with and regularly using the centres, and new senior managers appointed were felt to have an excellent awareness of how to improve services. Centres were found to be particularly successful in providing support to families in times of crisis, and in having good support in place for children with special educational needs.

Inspectors spoke to parents who they could see were increasingly involved in decision-making processes within the centres, and who praised the work of staff. Parenting programmes offered by the centres were found to be highly beneficial in reducing feelings of social isolation and low self-esteem.

Inspectors also highlighted The Starting Out Programme, which has been developed to help children gain skills for starting school, and were impressed with the impact this programme is already making.

Other areas judged as good included strong partnerships, especially with social care colleagues, and the work of staff and family outreach workers who know the children’s centre areas exceptionally well. The centres also have a very well-managed volunteer programme and apprentice scheme. 

While identifying a number of strengths, inspectors rated the centres as requiring improvement. The report finds that improvements are needed in the following areas:

  • Ensure health information is regularly obtained from health partners and used effectively to identify local need and shape relevant services
  • Develop the systems for monitoring and checking the centres’ work
  • Improve opportunities for adult learning
  • Strengthen new arrangements for governance to ensure the advisory board consistently challenges the centres’ leaders and drives improvement

Vicky Wales, Head of Children, Young People and Learning, Borough of Poole, said: “We are pleased that the latest report has recognised that we are delivering good quality, safe services to those families who receive them and that we have made significant improvements in many areas. Staff have worked incredibly hard to make these improvements and are to be commended on their efforts”

Cllr Janet Walton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Families and Young People, Borough of Poole, said: “The past year has seen a great deal of work done to improve the services offered by our children’s centres, so it is pleasing to have these recognised, and to receive many positive comments from the inspectors. We do however acknowledge that there is still work to be done, and this remains a priority for us as we move forward.” 

A copy of the inspection report is available at www.ofsted.gov.uk

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