06 Nov 2012 Last updated at 00:00

Top marks for children’s centre

East Cowes Children’s Centre has been praised by Ofsted following an inspection which judged it as 'outstanding' overall.

Inspectors visited the centre, which the Isle of Wight Council commissioned The Children's Society to run in 2011, in October this year and spoke to children, parents, managers, staff and partner agencies who work closely with the centre.
The centre’s excellent grasp of local need was highlighted in the report. Inspectors found the quality of care, guidance and support offered to all who use the centre, especially those most in need, to be outstanding.   
Sue Gleaves, centre manager at East Cowes Children's Centre, said: "I am so proud of our families for what they have achieved and thank them for their support. The centre would not have been judged outstanding without them and the commitment of the staff and professionals we work alongside. As a Children's Society-run children's centre, we work with our families to put children's wellbeing at the heart of everything we do to make them feel valued and happy. Well done everyone!"
Among the many strengths highlighted in Ofsted’s report was the way parents are fully involved in all aspects of centre life. Parents make an exceptional contribution to services and governance through the successful volunteer programme and forum called 'Families Voice'. The views of families are sought frequently and the most recent survey found the overwhelming majority of parents to be satisfied with the centre.
Local parent Vicky Caller, an East Cowes Children's Centre user, said: "I don't really know how to put it into words how much East Cowes Children's Centre has helped me. They are really supportive and help families when they need it." 
'Superb results'

Development of services for adults is key. The centre supports people to achieve their full potential by providing training opportunities to meet individual needs. Many parents have gone on to find jobs after completing courses at the centre. The report states: "Many adults have achieved superb results. Basic literacy or numeracy courses have led to other qualifications and a few are now on university degree courses as a result of their engagement with the centre."   
Councillor Dawn Cousins, cabinet member for children’s services and education, said: “I am delighted that yet another of our children’s centres has been graded as outstanding by Ofsted. The centre is clearly making a real difference to families in the East Cowes area, I would like to congratulate and thank staff at the centre for delivering such excellent services for local families.”
Inspectors found that the Isle of Wight Council and The Children’s Society provide "superb levels of challenge and support". The centre is successfully working with families that are considered hard to reach or don't normally use children's centre services. The proportion of teenage parents using services at the centre has doubled in the last year and programmes for fathers are well used.  
Ofsted praised the centre’s staff, stating in the report: "Leaders are wholly dedicated to delivering the best possible services."

The report also noted that the kindness of staff underpinned the aim of helping each family improve as much as they can.   

Children's centres provide essential support to families
Children's centres provide essential support to families
  • This is the fourth Isle of Wight children’s centre to be rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’, two have been rated as ‘good’ and a further two are still to be inspected.
  • The Children’s Society has run and managed the East Cowes Children’s Centre on behalf of the Isle of Wight Council since April 2011.
  • The Children’s Society runs 44 children’s centres throughout England that support the needs of children under five and their parents or carers.
East Cowes Isle of Wight