Sure Start centres need more schools’ involvement

10 Jul 09
Schools should work more closely with Sure Start children’s centres, the education watchdog has said
By Vivienne Russell

10 July 2009

Schools should work more closely with Sure Start children’s centres, the education watchdog has said.

An Ofsted survey of 20 children’s centres, based in six local authorities, found that more than half were integrating services effectively. Inspectors also praised the centres’ positive ethos and ‘can-do’ approach.

But the July 20 report also identified some problems, particularly around the area of partnership working.

Chief inspector Christine Gilbert said: ‘More partnership work needs to be developed and supported and we recommend that schools work more closely with children’s centres. This will help to track the development of children who have received support from the centres.’

Local authorities had a part to play in ensuring schools and children’s centres worked more closely together, the report said.

There was also a call for more joined-up working at central government level. Ofsted recommended that the Department for Children, Schools and Families work with the Department for Work and Pensions to improve joint working between JobcentrePlus and children’s centres.

There were also problems reaching vulnerable families, who were often in greatest need but were reluctant to ask for support.

Leadership and management were rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ at 15 of the centres visited, and children’s learning and development was found to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ in over half of the centres.

Gilbert said: ‘These children’s centres provide a range of invaluable services in supporting children and their families in some of the most disadvantaged communities. The enthusiasm and commitment among professionals in the centres – working in education and care, health and social care – is evident and deserves recognition.’

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