Children's centre groups make progress in latest inspections

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More children's centre groups are being judged good or outstanding according to new Ofsted statistics, but nearly half are still below this level.

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Results for single children's centre inspections showed a slight decline over the past two years since the latest inspection framework was introduced, with 67 per cent judged good or outstanding, a fall of two percentage points.

This compares to 80 percent of childcare providers achieving good or outstanding in their last inspection.

At 31 March 2015, of 214 children's centre groups inspected, 2 per cent were outstanding and 50 per cent good, with 38 per cent judged as requiring improvement and nine per cent inadequate (see table). This was a nine percentage point rise on 31 March 2014.

Some 32 per cent of single children's centres are deemed to be requires improvement, with 11 per cent outstanding and 56 per cent good.

At a regional level, London and the North East performed best, both having 75 per cent of centres at good or outstanding.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, 'It is positive to see that outcomes for children’s centre groups have improved over the past year – especially given that the number of centres working in such an arrangement is increasing. However, the fact remains that nearly half of such centres are still rated as "requires improvement" or "inadequate". This, in addition to the fact that single centres have seen a decline in outcomes, and that more than a third of centres overall remain less than "good", is of great concern.
 
'As highlighted by the Education Committee in March, there is still a distinct lack of clarity from central government on the role and purpose of children’s centres. This, alongside sustained funding cuts, will inevitably result in a patchy and fragmented system of variable quality. Given the vital role that children’s centres play in supporting children and families – and particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – it is vital that the government looks to address this issue as a matter of priority, and ensures that these centres are being adequately supported to provide services of consistently high quality.'

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