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15 April 2015

Ofsted recognises marked improvement at Slough Children’s Centres

Ofsted has recognised a marked improvement at Slough’s Children’s Centres, managed by Cambridge Education on behalf of the Borough Council. The children’s centres were described as warm and inclusive hubs for local communities, where families feel welcome and safe. Cambridge Education was appointed to provide educational services to Slough Borough Council, the borough’s schools and educational settings in September 2013.
 
Inspections were carried out at the 10 children’s centres in Slough, which serve 12,651 children under the age of five, in March 2015. Ofsted found that parents valued the staff and their work, which focuses on children’s learning and development, with the role of the centres now better understood and valued by the local community. Partnerships have been developed strongly over the last year with staff recognised for providing sensitive and effective family support. This has led to a significant increase in the number of families registered at the children’s centres.
 
The latest report follows Ofsted’s praise of early years services at Slough’s Children’s Centres after a round of unannounced inspections in September 2014. Ofsted judged services to be ‘Outstanding’ at two centres and ‘Good’ at three centres.
 
Finbar McGaughey, director at Cambridge Education, commented: “When we began managing the children’s centres on behalf of Slough Borough Council we knew there was an urgent need to make improvements. We undertook a far reaching review of the services, developed a strategy the team has worked hard to implement, which is now having a positive impact on outcomes for children and families in the borough.”
 
“We are still at a fairly early stage in our contract and our work is continuing, but it is reassuring to see the initiatives that have been implemented so far are now delivering genuine results. We are aware there is no room for complacency, but the local communities should be encouraged by what has been achieved in a relatively short space of time. I am especially pleased that Ofsted has recognised the quality of service received by the community in Slough – young children and their families matter most,” Finbar added.
 
The Ofsted report acknowledged that continued improvement was needed to ensure that centres reach out to all expectant and new parents and carers in the local area, so that all priority groups regularly use the services offered. It suggested that information and data could be used to demonstrate the positive impact the centres have and how they make a difference to families. The report also encouraged parents to take up places for up to 15 hours of free childcare and education each week for 38 weeks of the year. Children’s centres in Slough have extended their registered early year provision in order to accommodate more vulnerable two year olds, but only 56% of those eligible are currently taking up a place. Open days have now been held to introduce parents to providers that can currently offer places.
 
Dr. Krutika Pau, director of children’s services in Slough, said: “We are pleased with the improvements which have been made in the past year. Our children’s centres are no longer classed as inadequate and this is testament to the hard work of the staff at the centres.”
 
“Parents using the centres can be reassured that we take the improvement of the service very seriously and that our journey of improvement has just started, with more to come,” Krutika added.

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