Children's centre inspection grades lower than other provision

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The performance of children’s centres continues to lag behind that of other childcare providers, the latest Ofsted figures show.

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Children's centres are continuing to fair worse with their Ofsted inspections than other providers

The newest Ofsted statistics reveal that of the 204 children’s centres inspected between 1 July and 31 December 2014, fewer than half, 49 per cent, were found to be good or outstanding.

Of these centres, just six per cent were rated outstanding and 43 per cent good.

The latest ‘Children’s Centres Inspections and Outcomes’ also shows that 41 per cent of centres were judged as ‘requires improvement’ and 10 per cent inadequate.

In comparison, 74 per cent of the 2,500 nurseries that were inspected between 1 July and 31 August 2014 were rated good and outstanding. According to Watchsted, the most recent 100 maintained nursery schools to be inspected were 58 per cent outstanding and 40 per cent good.

Children's centre group inspection results were worse than those for single children's centres, with 3 per cent outstanding compared to 8 per cent, and 17 per cent of groups inadequate against 5 per cent for single centres.

The latest children’s centre figures reflect a declining trend in the performance of children’s centres since 2010 when Government funding was cut and a new common inspection framework was introduced.

There is also a lack of clarity about the core purpose of children’s centres, an issue that was raised with the childcare minister Sam Gyimah by the Education Select Committee earlier in the month.

Commenting on the latest Ofsted statistics on children’s centre inspection outcomes, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ‘Only last week the Education Select Committee raised concerns that the hard work currently being undertaken by centre teams is currently being undermined by a lack of political support and direction. It is inevitable that this uncertainty is reflected in latest statistics that show a downward trend in Ofsted inspection outcomes.

‘This issue should be addressed as a matter of priority by the Department for Education. We need to ensure that the many vulnerable families relying on these centres are given the support they need.’

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