Head teachers back changes being made to Children's Centres

Published Thursday, 1st December 2016

Head teachers have today welcomed the changes being made to Children's Centres by Worcestershire County Council.

The changes will result in a greater focus on providing support to those children and families who need it most and help to improve overall outcomes for the County's children.

The County Council has 32 Children's Centres in Worcestershire and has promised not to close any. The changes involve transferring 20 of those 32 Children's Centres to schools and/or early years providers.  

The head teacher of one those schools, Franche Primary School in Kidderminster, Mrs Val Weddell-Hall, welcomes the changes. She said: "We are really excited about what the future holds and we are delighted to welcome the Children's Centre Manager Michelle Froggatt back with us.

"Our Children's Centre, Chestnut’s @ Franche is centred around the needs of our community in the Wyre Forest.

"A variety of sessions have already taken place today and we have many more activities scheduled; Speech & Language, Stay & Play, Music Time, Baby Massage, Tots Splashtime, Family Learning Workshops and Book & Cook to name just a few. We are also welcoming other providers into the centre."

Another delighted head teacher is Julie Wills, from Upton Primary School, she said: "The Riverboats Children's Centre has only been open 3 days a week since September 2015 and it is our vision now that we increase services and we are currently working with other providers and other services that will be beneficial to children and their families from 0-5.

"We are very excited about the future of the children's centre and confident we can make this work well for children and families in Upton."

Councillor Marc Bayliss, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Communities at Worcestershire County Council, again reassured families that no centres will be closing. 

He said: "Our plans for early help services in Worcestershire will result in a greater focus on providing support to those children and families who need it most. Within our plans none of our Children's Centres will be closing and we are confident that the changes that we are making will help to improve overall outcomes for all children.

"We have 32 children's centres in the county and we will continue to have 32 children's centres in Worcestershire.

"Already 70% of those Children's Centres where changes are being made have formally moved into their new arrangements and the use of these buildings will continue to evolve. Talks are under way with the remaining centres to agree and formalise the future arrangements. We are on track with our plans.

"In the meantime we are working with all concerned to ensure that, where appropriate, services in these children's centres are able to continue with the least possible disruption."

Following some confusion over the future of certain centres due to misreporting by BBC Hereford and Worcester, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has released the following statement to clarify the matter for concerned families.

A spokesperson for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We apologise for the confusion caused and for the inaccurate content of a letter that we sent out. The purpose of the letter was to confirm a change of location for clinics and unfortunately the department had not checked the factual position relating to Children's Centres."

The changes are being introduced during a transitional period and the new timetables are being set up. Further information is available at www.worcestershire.gov.uk/childrenscentres."