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Ofsted says Tower Hamlet parents felt "ignored" over children centre restructuring

PUBLISHED: 12:11 26 August 2011

Government watchdog inpsectors found the recent restructuring of children centres in Tower Hamlets has left parents feeling "ignored" and have urged the council to explain its plans better in the future.

Two children hubs in Tower Hamlets have been inspected by Ofsted since the borough’s 23 children centres began a major restructuring earlier this year.

John Smith Children Centre in Stepney was given an overall ‘good’ rating’, but parents told inspectors they were not given clear news about the changes and that they felt “uncertain” whether services would continue.

Ofsted has now asked the centre and council “to make sure they explain plans and policies so parents can comment fully on all current work and changes.”

Inspectors commented: “The centre is running smoothly with consistently very high attendance during a time of radical changes in the organisation of children’s centre services in Tower Hamlets.”

“Many users are troubled by recent changes and told inspectors they do not have any clear news of what is happening and do not feel part of the change process.”

The report said the centre in Stepney Way has been at the heart of the community for 16 years. Parents are very loyal to the centre, have build up good relationships with staff and most activities offered full, inspectors found.

The report also praises managers ability to match classes with parents and children’s needs but states that “users are uncertain how well this will continue”.

“Some parents and carers fell their views have been ignored and that they are not informed well enough about what is going on.”

The centre, which has become a socalled ‘main’ centre under the restructuring, which saw others designated ‘secondary’ centres, received two ‘outstanding’, 17 ‘good’ and two ‘satisfactory’ ratings across its service areas.

A council spokeswoman commented: “Statistically, 10 per cent of the Oftsed judgments were ‘outstanding’ and 82 per cent were ‘Good’. There were absolutely no ‘Unsatisfactory’ judgements.”

The report said the centre is providing a ‘growing range’ of excellent areas for families including a learning centre, a crèche, health and midwifery services, employment advice and a garden space.

Overland Children centre in Parnell Road, Bow, was inspected last month, and was also given an overall ‘good rating’

Inspectors found that “despite the recent changes senior leaders have quickly established high expectations and a strong sense of purpose” since the management team merged with the Olga centre in Victoria Park.

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