29/10/2012 - Permalink

Children’s centre making a difference for families

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Families have told Government inspectors how much they value Shropshire Council’s Ellesmere Area Sure Start Children’s Centre. 

As part of a recent inspection of the centre, Ofsted gained the views of parents on the support it provides. 

In their report inspectors said: “Parents typically commented that at times when they faced difficult personal circumstances, the centre was ‘a life saver’.” 

Inspectors gave the centre an overall rating of “satisfactory”, with “good” features. 

The centre has a main base at Ellesmere Primary School.  It is one of 13 children’s centre areas in Shropshire which offer a variety of services for families with young children. 

Inspectors commended the centre because “parents’ views are valued by the centre and then carefully evaluated to inform improvements” while “parents value the services on offer and feel included”. 

The report noted that “relationships between staff, children and families are good, and the centre provides a comfortable, attractive and well-planned environment for activities”. 

Inspectors also commented that staff are knowledgable and well qualified, and there are “effective links with other services across the reach area to enhance the support available.” 

Ofsted highlighted to families and carers: “Your centre is particularly successful at providing good learning opportunities for babies and toddlers as well as two- to four-year-olds”, which is “having a good impact on their development and their readiness for school”. 

The report added that “the centre is having the greatest impact in the extent to which children and parents enjoy and achieve educationally and in their personal and social development”. 

Inspectors outlined how the impact of the centre’s work is illustrated in the following achievements for the area: 

  • The attainment of children at the end of the early years foundation stage showed an improvement from 32.2 per cent achieving 78 points or more in 2008 to 68 per cent in 2011.
  • The gap between the lowest-achieving children and the rest has reduced over the same period of time from 26.4 per cent to 21.8 per cent
  • The level of obesity for reception year children across the reach area reduced from 16.5 per cent in 2009 to 8.5 per cent in 2010. 

Inspectors suggested areas such as developing self-evaluation procedures to improve further. 

Alex Klages, senior children’s centre support worker, said:

“I am very pleased that the Ofsted inspection report for the Ellesmere area children’s centre recognises the high standard of work that takes place to support children’s development and learning, through centre activities, the well-planned environment, and effective partnership working.  

“I am also particularly pleased with the comments from parents with regards to how much they value the services we offer, and how families feel welcomed and safe in the centre, which reflects the positive relationships that staff have with families and our commitment to safeguarding.” 

Ann Hartley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health and well-being, said:

“The views of parents and carers are really important to us. 

“It’s great to hear that they value their children’s centre services, from learning and development opportunities for their children to adult education courses, as well as being able to help shape and improve services. 

“The care, guidance and support provided by staff is making a real difference – and we will look to build on this work even further. 

“If you’re not already benefitting from children’s centre services but think they could help your family, please contact the team to find out more.” 

Inspectors visited the centre on 19 and 20 September 2012. 

For more information on the Ellesmere Area Children’s Centre and and children’s centre services in surrounding areas, contact senior children’s centre support workers Alex Klages or Tina Dyke on 01691 656513

Further information 

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk

For more details about children’s centres go to shropshire.gov.uk/childrenscentres. 

To see the report click here.