Children's centre hits back at Ofsted report

This Is Wiltshire: Terry Radcliffe, Sonia Osbourn and Hayley Stone of Hop Skip & Jump, Swindon Terry Radcliffe, Sonia Osbourn and Hayley Stone of Hop Skip & Jump, Swindon

SUPERVISOR Sonia Osbourn has defended children’s respite centre Hop Skip and Jump following a damning report by education watchdog Ofsted.

An inspection carried out on February 13 found the centre in Ridge Green, Shaw, was inadequate in the quality and standards of its early years provision across the board.

The report found issue with how well the early years provision met the needs of the range of children attending, the contribution of the provision to the wellbeing of the children and the effectiveness of leadership at the centre.

In response to the report, which was published on Friday Ms Osbourn said: “It’s quite surprising, to be fair.

“They said there were an awful lot of positives. They did say they didn’t really know where to place us, because we are not an educational establishment.

“They admitted they had never known where to place us when it came to inspections. They are not happy with the way the educational needs of the children are being met, but then we are not an educational centre.

“There is nothing here which compromises the children’s safety at all. They were also worried journals weren’t being kept up-to-date.

“We only have one child on roll here who is under-five and their attendance is very intermittent. They are not at school here and we don’t expect them every day.

“How can we plan for something if we don’t know it’s going to happen? Parents are always changing plans and children can sometimes just turn up and on other occasions cancel at the last minute.

“There’s nothing in the book if they don’t turn up. The head of childcare here plans hard every week for the sessions we put on for our one child on roll, but if he doesn’t attend how can we put anything in the book for our records?”

The centre offers a flexible respite option to parents and carers who have children with disabilities or special educational needs, and so the majority of children who attend the centre are not registered and arrive on an ad hoc basis for much of the time.

Ms Osbourn also defended the staff who care for the children at the centre. She said all qualifications held by staff are relevant and any training needed was being undertaken.

In her report for Ofsted, Melissa Cox wrote: “There are breaches of statutory requirements which compromise children's safety.

“Staff qualifications do not meet requirements, training and supervision opportunities are not sufficiently well established, there is a poor regard to fire safety and the complaints procedure lacks required details.

“The staff's understanding of how to plan for children's individual learning and specific needs is weak. Activities do not provide enough challenge or support children to make good enough progress in their learning.”

And for the centre’s strengths, Ms Cox wrote: “Suitable records to support children's health and medical needs are kept. Staff have accessed some training specific to these needs.”

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