Centre thrives on clarity of purpose


Newport Children's Centre, Waltham Forest, London; Children's centre inspection; March 2013

Prudence Barnes, head teacher at Newport Children’s Centre, has a history of fixing failing schools and children’s centres and is clear about what she thinks it takes to make swift improvements: “When organisations aren’t performing it’s rarely because of a lack of goodwill, but because people are not being held to account or made aware of how they are expected to perform.”

The answer, she says, is to be clear. “At Newport, line management, supervision and multi-agency team meetings are all conducted in a very professional way. Everything is minuted and the meetings and actions happen. It’s very easy in very busy organisations to let line management slip because something urgent has cropped up, but we always ensure things like supervision are not carried over to the next week.”

Multi-agency working
Minuting helps multi-agency working too. “Different agencies often use different terms for the same thing that don’t necessarily translate to other agencies,” she says. “By having meetings minuted and minutes reviewed at the start of every meeting it helps us have a joint dialogue that we all understand.”

The approach appears to work, as Newport is nowhere near special measures. Ofsted’s inspection this March rates it good and gives extra praise for its “rigorous supervision” and “exemplary” safeguarding.

The latter subject is close to her heart. “I’m really passionate about safeguardin

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