LEADERS at Butterflies Children’s Centre impressed inspectors with their efforts to improve the nursery.

The nursery, within Abbey Meads Primary School – which has been designated control of the centre by the local authority – needs improvement, according to Ofsted.

The Ofsted report does not refer to the Little Scholars Pre-School, which is also based at Abbey Meads Primary School.

Inspectors found the Butterflies Children’s Centre was not effectively targeting children from deprived and disadvantaged backgrounds, and had not yet met their 65 per cent target of children from low-income families.

But efforts by staff to turn the nursery around were praised.

Christine Field, lead inspector for Ofsted, said of the nursery: “Registrations are rising. However, the children living in the most disadvantaged communities and those from lone, workless and low income families who use the centre’s services, are not yet the large majority.

“The target set for the end of June is unlikely to be met.

“Increasing use is being made of the improving range of data provided by the local authority. It is used to help the centre find out about the needs of local children and families, including those unlikely to attend, and to encourage wider engagement by taking services to community venues.

“The centre has yet to ensure that the large majority of children and families from priority groups use them regularly so as to improve their well-being and life chances.

“Volunteering opportunities provide parents with good opportunities to run groups and to enhance their existing skills, and some have consequently moved into paid work.

“Some parents access courses such as first aid, which build their knowledge, but those available to extend further education and skills are thin on the ground.

“Leaders have placed the centre firmly on an improving course following a period of significant change.”

Centre manager Tanya Parkinson said one of the biggest challenges had been funding, which was lower than the centre would have liked.

She said: “There was a public consultation last summer in which we were identified as one of three nurseries with the highest need, so our funding was then raised. In that way we are able to have a greater impact and hit the target of 65 per cent.

“We have been able to employ an outreach worker to work with those in the area most at need, and that is where we are focusing our funding.

“We know exactly what we need to do but it is all hands on deck. If we had a couple of extra months with the funding I believe we would have been rated good.”

Bob Buckley, head of service and headteacher at Abbey Meads, said: “I am extremely proud of our dedicated staff. I am also delighted the lead inspector recognised the quality of our work with vulnerable families, acknowledging that Butterflies makes a difference, through early intervention, to children and families in North Swindon.”