A new bill passing through Parliament will give Ofsted the legal duty to inspect and report on the effectiveness of children’s centres.
Children’s centres, many of which are located in the most disadvantaged areas of the country, provide a range of integrated services for children under five and their families. These include early learning and childcare, family support, health services, support into employment and links to other specialist services.
The Government sees children’s centres as key to improving outcomes for young children and to closing the gap between the most disadvantaged children and others.
We intend to begin a full programme of inspections of children’s centres from April 2010
Ofsted has begun to develop an inspection framework to evaluate the effectiveness of centres supporting children, parents and the wider community.
We are working with local authorities to identify 60 centres to take part in early pilot inspections between April and November 2009. Each will receive a copy of the pilot inspection report, which will also be shared, in confidence, with the local authority and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
From March 2009 onwards, we will contact all local authorities and children’s centres to check that we have up-to-date information about each centre and its services. We intend to consult on the inspection framework in the summer and begin a full programme of inspections of children’s centres from April 2010.