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[04 MAY 00] HILLFIELDS EARLY YEARS CENTRE
Centre Praised By Inspectors
BY ANTONY HOPKER

A unique Coventry centre that provides support and education for families and young children has been praised by government inspectors.

Hillfields Early Years Centre has been praised in the first report to be published jointly by Ofsted and Social Services.

The centre in Clifton Street, which was named as an Early Excellence Centre in 1997 was visited earlier in the year by a team of education and social service inspectors.

It is the first time that this joint approach has been taken approach.

Although it was not a joint inspection as such, the two were undertaken at the same time and many of the meetings with parents and centre management were combined.

The recently published report outlining the inspectors' findings highlights many strengths, including:

  • Effective delivery of integrated care and education and support for children and their families
  • Good educational development and personal, social and emotional needs very well met
  • Promotion of positive attitudes to learning and excellent behaviour in children
  • Good support for children with special needs and their families
  • High quality adult education is central part of the centre's work
  • Excellent relationships between all adults and children in the centre
  • Strong leadership provided by the head and the centre's management team

Sheila Thorpe, head of the centre, said:

"Previous Ofsted inspections were like school inspections and that does not indicate the wide range of things going on here. We meet the needs of the whole family and we do it from the time a child is born."

The centre provides integrated care and education all day, all year for children aged up to five years old, parent/toddler and parent/baby groups.

There is a wide range of adult education supported by creches, and parents are offered support including informal learning courses, health advice a toy library and home visiting.

The work of the centre will be examined in close detail by Employment and Equal Opportunities Minister Margaret Hodge MP, who is visiting on Tuesday 16 May.
   
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