Village children’s centres ‘should do better’

The centres are run by the county council but will be taken over by Barnardos next month
The centres are run by the county council but will be taken over by Barnardos next month

Three children’s centres in villages near Rugby “require improvement”, according to an Ofsted report.

Inspections of children’s centres in Cawston Grange, Dunchurch and Wolston were carried outlast month.

The report noted the “good quality teaching” and the hard work carried out by the “dedicated” centre group manager despite cuts in staffing and budgets. But problems include that the centres could not show their specific contribution to children’s readiness for school because they had only recently started tracking children’s progress.

Ofsted said data provided by Warwickshire County Council did not help the centres assess the impact their services have on people.

It also said there were too few opportunities for adults to engage in adult learning or volunteering opportunities and not enough was done to encourage parents to take an active role in making decisions about the services.

Also highlighted was a “conflict of interest” in the centre group manager holding the role of chairperson of the advisory board. The centres are part of the Warwickshire Rugby Rural group of children’s centres and the county council is responsible for governance.

The report said: “The hardworking, dedicated centre group manager has successfully increased the engagement of target families and maintained a strong staff team during a time of significant change.”

Children’s charity Barnardos will provide the service for the county council from September. Cllr Bob Stevens, the county councillor responsible for health, said: “The county council is supporting the Rugby Rural group in their completion of an action plan in response to the inspection.

“The local authority will work with Barnardos in the completion of the action plan to ensure increased representation of parents in the decision making of children’s centre services. This will include ways for increased monitoring of activity.”