Gold Star for North Devon Children's Centre

A Torrington children's centre has clinched the highest status possible from government inspectors.

The Bluecoat Children's Centre, is the first 'outstanding' children's centre in the County.

In his report, Ofsted's lead inspector Alex Baxter says:  "This is an outstanding children's centre that plays a pivotal and highly respected role in serving the needs of its community."

All key areas inspected were judged outstanding, including the centre's overall effectiveness and capacity for sustained improvement.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council lead member for children  said:  "This is a truly exceptional report of which everyone involved should feel justly proud.

"From raising standards in language and communication skills to successfully promoting health initiatives and access to training in the area, the many areas highlighted in the report are all vital elements of a healthy, prosperous community, and the centre clearly provides a valuable and well respected service.

"I'd like to congratulate manager Viv Jones, the school management team and all the staff and partners involved in the centre for this superb achievement.  The results of this inspection demonstrate the excellent work already being done in the centre and the wider community, and its capacity to improve even further."

In his report, Mr Baxter pays tribute to the exemplary team leadership and management by the headteacher of the infant and nursery school and the leader of the children's centre, which, he says, are complemented by high quality governance which fully represents all members of the community.

Partnership working is described as 'very effective' and a collaboration with local midwives has resulted in an increase in breastfeeding in the area.  Similarly, says the report, work with the child health clinics promotes and monitors parents' and children's health, development and emotional well-being very successfully.

Also singled out for praise are the 'excellent, trusting and caring relationships with staff', which help parents and their children to feel valued and confident.

One parent describes the sessions as a 'lifeline for us in the community'.

Bluecoat Children's Centre was built in 2002 and boasts a modern, purpose-built range of facilities including office, consulting, conference and activity rooms, a large cafe/lounge area and sensory room. Run by the Bluecoat Infant and Nursery school's governing body, it is part of the Torrington Learning Community - which includes 13 schools in the area.

Bluecoat Children's Centre manager Viv Jones said:  "This is a real celebration for all children, families, staff, governors, partner agencies and the wider community of Torrington to receive an Outstanding judgement from Ofsted. 

"Our centre is at the heart of our local community and is a place where everyone is valued for their unique strengths and supported in achieving their potential. It is a happy place, making a real difference in the lives of children, young people and families"