Children’s centre fails to impress inspectors

Salt Way Children’s Centre, in Pearl Road

Salt Way Children’s Centre, in Pearl Road

First published in News
Last updated
Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @BerenCross

SALT Way Children’s Centre, one of those to survive closure following Swindon Council’s budget cuts, has been judged inadequate in its first inspection – Ofsted’s lowest rating.

The Pearl Road centre, in Middleleaze, was inspected on November 27 and 28 by two Ofsted representatives, who gave it the lowest rating for all three categories.

The centre is managed by the Children’s Society on behalf of Swindon Council. Reduced funding from the council has meant the centre is in the process of merging with three other centres, Eldene, Croft and Robert Le Kyng under one leader, on two sites, by next Monday.

In its summary of the centre’s inadequate leadership and governance, inspectors said: “Budget reductions and the resulting merger of the four centres have meant that valuable time has been taken up with the organisation that this requires.

“In the past, lack of data and limited understanding of how to use it, together with the increased work load caused by a shrinking budget, a reduced workforce and the merger of the four centres, have slowed progress in meeting the needs of the families in the area.

“Staff are dedicated, morale is high, and staff work hard to improve the life chances for those who attend the centre.

“However, without a plan, the direction and pace of improvement have lost momentum. “Responsibilities are changing as the centres merge and this has caused a lack of continuity, which has again slowed the rate of improvement.”

In response, Damian Allen, the director of children and families at The Children’s Society, said: “The merger and operating with a tighter budget was always going to be a challenge.

“Clearly, there are some big challenges to address. We will be working with the council, parents and local partners so we can take the steps necessary to ensure Salt Way is better serving more local families.

“Work has begun on a draft plan, and we’ll be working closely with the council and others to help deliver this.”

Coun Fionuala Foley (Con, Chiseldon & Lawn), the cabinet member for children’s services, said: “I would say I am very saddened by the Ofsted judgement.

“This is not an issue about budgets. It’s about all the centres: Are there problems in the others, where there have also been cuts? No there aren’t.

“I don’t believe this report makes the children more vulnerable going into the future. They have a very large budget at Salt Way and I don’t believe that cuts should be a sign these failings will occur elsewhere.

“The Children’s Society, as a whole, need to look at how they look after their staff.”

Comments (11)

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10:20am Fri 3 Jan 14

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

I'm still not sure I understand what these places do or why we continue to pay for them!
I'm still not sure I understand what these places do or why we continue to pay for them! The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man
  • Score: 2

11:18am Fri 3 Jan 14

purplerose says...

great my son has an appointment there in Jan i don,t what they do there but my son is seeing a occupational therapist and i would like to also point out that they have had to close loads of these places already and now when we have appointments we have to travel all over Swindon
great my son has an appointment there in Jan i don,t what they do there but my son is seeing a occupational therapist and i would like to also point out that they have had to close loads of these places already and now when we have appointments we have to travel all over Swindon purplerose
  • Score: -7

3:18pm Fri 3 Jan 14

Ringer says...

To receive that rating from Ofsted means the place must be absolutely horrendous.
To receive that rating from Ofsted means the place must be absolutely horrendous. Ringer
  • Score: 4

4:09pm Fri 3 Jan 14

beach1e says...

seems like yet more decent hard working peoples money is directed at flabby public services which do not provide value for money .
seems like yet more decent hard working peoples money is directed at flabby public services which do not provide value for money . beach1e
  • Score: 2

12:17pm Sat 4 Jan 14

RichardR1 says...

So this ones awful so how bad were the other the council closed, or could it be the council closed the wrong ones. Given their past decisions probably the former.
So this ones awful so how bad were the other the council closed, or could it be the council closed the wrong ones. Given their past decisions probably the former. RichardR1
  • Score: -2

12:18pm Sat 4 Jan 14

RichardR1 says...

Should have been the latter.
Should have been the latter. RichardR1
  • Score: -1

5:03pm Sat 4 Jan 14

trolley dolley says...

It is reported that,
“In the past, lack of data and limited understanding of how to use it, together with the increased work load caused by a shrinking budget, a reduced workforce and the merger of the four centres, have slowed progress in meeting the needs of the families in the area".

This is office speak saying the staff are not up to the job.

It is also reported that,
"However, without a plan, the direction and pace of improvement have lost momentum. Responsibilities are changing as the centres merge and this has caused a lack of continuity, which has again slowed the rate of improvement.”

Again this is office speak saying the staff are not up to the job.

Are these staff paid employees and if so who is paying them, is it taken out of Council funding.

The parents should expect and get value for money at these centres and Coun Fionuala Foley should ensure this takes place.
It is reported that, “In the past, lack of data and limited understanding of how to use it, together with the increased work load caused by a shrinking budget, a reduced workforce and the merger of the four centres, have slowed progress in meeting the needs of the families in the area". This is office speak saying the staff are not up to the job. It is also reported that, "However, without a plan, the direction and pace of improvement have lost momentum. Responsibilities are changing as the centres merge and this has caused a lack of continuity, which has again slowed the rate of improvement.” Again this is office speak saying the staff are not up to the job. Are these staff paid employees and if so who is paying them, is it taken out of Council funding. The parents should expect and get value for money at these centres and Coun Fionuala Foley should ensure this takes place. trolley dolley
  • Score: 0

5:26pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Jelly belly 859 says...

The full report is on the Ofsted website where there are also lots of strengths highlighted. Including the following

Families who do come to the centre are very clear that the quality of support they receive is good and that the centre’s work makes a positive difference to their lives. Help to families in their homes and strong partnerships with health professionals ensure that families in most need receive effective early help.

The warm welcome and the good role models that all staff provide ensure that new families settle quickly, gain in confidence and benefit from what the centre has to offer.
The full report is on the Ofsted website where there are also lots of strengths highlighted. Including the following Families who do come to the centre are very clear that the quality of support they receive is good and that the centre’s work makes a positive difference to their lives. Help to families in their homes and strong partnerships with health professionals ensure that families in most need receive effective early help. The warm welcome and the good role models that all staff provide ensure that new families settle quickly, gain in confidence and benefit from what the centre has to offer. Jelly belly 859
  • Score: 0

7:39pm Sat 4 Jan 14

trolley dolley says...

Jelly Belly 859,
The report stated,
"SALT Way Children’s Centre, one of those to survive closure following Swindon Council’s budget cuts, has been judged inadequate in its first inspection – Ofsted’s lowest rating."

The rating it was given is the lowest possible, that takes into account the good and bad points. There is no point in doing these inspections if people are not prepared to accept the findings.

What is important is that the Council act and get it sorted out.
Jelly Belly 859, The report stated, "SALT Way Children’s Centre, one of those to survive closure following Swindon Council’s budget cuts, has been judged inadequate in its first inspection – Ofsted’s lowest rating." The rating it was given is the lowest possible, that takes into account the good and bad points. There is no point in doing these inspections if people are not prepared to accept the findings. What is important is that the Council act and get it sorted out. trolley dolley
  • Score: -1

7:53pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Jelly belly 859 says...

Trolley dolley perhaps you should read the ofsted report that documents their full findings it might give you a more informed opinion.
Trolley dolley perhaps you should read the ofsted report that documents their full findings it might give you a more informed opinion. Jelly belly 859
  • Score: 1

10:16am Sun 5 Jan 14

trolley dolley says...

Ofsted’s lowest rating tells it all.

A major change in attitude is required with possible job cut.
Ofsted’s lowest rating tells it all. A major change in attitude is required with possible job cut. trolley dolley
  • Score: -1

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