Children's centre group graded as 'requires improvement'

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A group of two children’s centres in Bournemouth has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ in its first Ofsted inspection since being amalgamated.


Pokesdown Children's Centre in Bournemouth

The centres in Southbourne and Pokesdown, collectively known as the South Bournemouth Children’s Centres, were amalgamated by Bournemouth Borough Council in September and are supported by a single manager.

Run by the YMCA on behalf of the council, the centres are based within the top 70 per cent of the most deprived areas nationally.

Ofsted inspected the South Bournemouth Children’s Centres in October, under the new inspection framework, and found they are not meeting the needs of families in the area.

Inspectors raised concern that some sessions run by the centres for young children do not always provide ‘high quality learning experiences’.

The report states, ‘The quality of activities and sessions for children are not always of good quality. Children attending Teddy’s Pre-School at Pokesdown and special educational needs sessions receive good provision. Other sessions for children are not linked to the development of local priorities such as the attainment of boys or developing children’s mark making.’

It goes on to say that the local authority’s monitoring of the group’s effectiveness requires improvement. Also, senior leaders are not monitoring sessions run by third party providers closely enough, including the standards of health and safety.

It adds that the centres are 'not good' because the 'local authority is not ensuring that information from the Department of Work and Pensions, local police and health partners is presented in a timely and helpful format for the group to have a clear and specific identification of the needs of lone parents, families experiencing domestic violence or teenage parents.'

The South Bournemouth Children’s Centre is among a number of children centres managed as groups, clusters or as ‘hub and spoke’ models to be rated as ‘requires improvement’ under Ofsted’s new inspection framework.

Findings from Ofsted’s Children’s centre inspections and outcomes, published in September, revealed that in the first three months of the new inspection framework, 70 per cent of centres had been graded as ‘requires improvement’, and 20 per cent ‘inadequate’.

Blair Crawford, executive director at Bournemouth YMCA, said, 'The centres were inspected by Ofsted just a month after they amalgamated and under a much tougher inspection regime.

'We are faced with the challenge of a decreasing children's centre budget against an increasing birth rate. A trend we are seeing across the country.

'We are currently "meaningfully engaging" with 55 per cent of deprived families, but our target is now 80 per cent of families, so we need to raise our reach.'

He added, 'Since the Ofsted inspection we have secured an additional £50k to target fathers. We are also putting a lottery bid together to increase the number of family support workers.'

Jane Portman, executive director of Bournemouth Borough Council, said, ‘The South Bournemouth Children’s Centres are commissioned to the YMCA and we will be working closely with them to address the issues identified in the recent Ofsted report. In particular we are working hard to supply all of our children’s centres with the level of data now required by the new inspection framework.’

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