Children’s centre ‘must make improvements’

Buckingham Children's Centre
Buckingham Children's Centre

Buckingham Children’s Centre, which serves more than 900 toddlers, has been told to make improvements by government inspectors.

Ofsted discovered that despite identifying needy families, the centre is not engaging with enough children who need its support.

In the area which the centre serves, six per cent of children under five are living in homes where no one is in employment – but only 30 per cent of those youngsters used the centre three times or more last year.

The report comes after Bucks County Council slashed the budget for children’s centres by £400,000.

Ofsted inspectors also found that case files at the centre, based at the George Grenville Academy, are not always completed fully – which means staff do not know when some children were last seen.

Parents and carers who need support have ‘limited’ opportunities to improve skills and centre leaders are ‘not focussed’ on improving engagement with families.

Co-ordinator Liz Martin, who has led the centre since 2013, said: “Obviously, we were hoping to show the good work we do but we were happy with the grading we got.

“We have limited resources but we feel we do the best we can with what we have. We want to raise publicity and get out into the community but we are here for anyone that needs us.”

Zahir Mohammed, cabinet member for education and skills, said the council is ‘committed’ to providing a high quality service.

He said: “We aim to maintain the core offer of services and activities to families, with an increased focus on targeted support to those families who need more help.”