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Lack of data and permanent staff blamed for 'requires improvement' grade handed to children's centres

Lack of data and permanent staff blamed for 'requires improvement' grade handed to children's centres

Philip Dewey

A lack of data and permanent staff was cited as reasons for Windsor and Datchet children's centres receiving a 'requires improvement' grade from Ofsted.

The Windsor and Datchet Children's Centre Hub, based at Datchet St Mary's CE Primary School in The Green, was inspected in September and told its access to and quality of services required improvement.

The Royal Borough's children's services overview and scrutiny panel met on yesterday to discuss Ofsted's report, which was published in October.

Issues highlighted in the report included;

-A lack of clarity in information provided by Royal Borough

-A low number of two-year-old children taking up the services

-Insufficient staff to support number of services provided

Speaking at the meeting, Ann Domeney, Royal Borough's head of early help and safeguarding, said: "I do not think this inspection found any big range issues. Requiring improvement is the new adequate, which we're not happy with.

"The inspectors were complimentary about the staff so we’re pleased to have that recognition."

She went on to say that the council had been using zero-hour contracts to employ some staff members at the centres and while this ‘provided flexibility’ for employees it meant that the retention of non-permanent staff was ‘unreliable’.

Simon McKenzie, service leader for early help and first response, said that a lot of the information provided by the Royal Borough relating to children using the centres, was ‘not up-to-date’.

Alison Alexander, the Royal Borough’s director of children services, said: “In terms of the report, we’re all disappointed but it comes back to the data issue.

“If we are able to work with our partners to share data and bring that together for the benefit of the hub we will be able to identify what services are needed more affectively.

A wider review of Early Help provisions will be carried out by the Royal Borough to address the issues.

The meeting took place at Maidenhead Town Hall.

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