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East Staffordshire's children's services are slammed by Ofsted

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 29, 2014

By Matthew Cobb

The East Staffordshire Children's Centre in Waterloo Street, Burton

The East Staffordshire Children's Centre in Waterloo Street, Burton

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FUNDING cuts are having a direct impact on the quality of provision offered by children's centres in East Staffordshire, Ofsted has found.

The body found that the East Staffordshire Children's Centre group was inadequate in all areas in a report published yesterday.

It said local authority restructuring, alongside a lack of leadership and management during a six-month period from April to September 2013, had 'significantly limited the capacity of the children's centre group to improve' and that as a result many parents were now drifting away.

The group runs East Staffordshire Children's Centre, in Waterloo Street, as well as Stapenhill Children's Centre and Tynsel Parkes Children's Centre in Uttoxeter, which is linked to a satellite centre in Barton under Needwood. Its target groups include children on child protection plans, two-year-olds eligible for free education and children needing support with speech and language.

It also provides services to parents who are unemployed and in receipt of benefits.

In a report into the quality of services offered, lead inspector Kathryn Gethin found that changes made at a county level were impacting the effectiveness of the leadership, governance and management, resulting in it being labelled 'weak'. She said: "This is mainly due to the local authority review of services which has caused disruption to the management of resources, staffing and oversight."

The report found that, as a result of the changes, information shared between the group, health professionals and commissioned services was now inadequate, meaning that target and development plans could not be laid out effectively. Furthermore, it found the group was failing to monitor attendance closely enough to ensure target groups were regularly attending.

The report continued: "Attendance at Winshill 'stay and play' is very low and monitoring reports indicate that there were no attendees in recent months. In addition, an employability course at this site was cancelled due to the low number of adults registering an interest."

Ofsted also criticised the local authorities for failing to notice ways in which the centre was failing during recent months. Ms Gethin said: "The local authority's approach to monitoring the performance of the centre has faltered in the last year. Specific, measurable targets were not set and the level of challenge has not been strong enough to demonstrate an improvement in performance."

The county council's cabinet member for communities, localism and children Mike Lawrence said there was still work to do to improve the service.

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