Lisson Grove children’s centre rated ‘outstanding’ despite funding cuts

A Lisson Grove children’s centre has earned its first ever ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report despite being forced to make five staff redundant after losing �190,000 of council funding.

The Portman Early Childhood Centre on Salisbury Street found it was losing funding last year as part of Westminster Council’s attempts to make more than �50million of savings.

Councillors, teaching staff and parents got together to fight the cuts with a petition handed in to the council in November but the funding cuts went ahead – leading to staff redundancies.

Now the school has proven its worth by bouncing back from the disappointment by achieving ‘outstanding’ ratings across the board in its latest Ofsted inspection.

Headteacher Joanna White said: “We are delighted given the difficult time staff have had over the past six to nine months. They have been extraordinary and it has been a real team effort.

“The first day of the inspection was actually the first day of our reorganisation following the redundancies so nobody was in the place they thought they were going to be, but we are all one team and everyone was wonderful.”

She also thanked those staff members who were made redundant earlier this year.

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“It doesn’t just happen in the short-term,” she said. “It comes from gradually working to improve over a number of years.”

The school, which was rated ‘good’ in its previous Ofsted inspection, caters for more than 60 children aged up to five years.

Two-thirds of the children are eligible for free meals while nine in ten speak English as an additional language.

The report states: “The hallmark of this outstanding school is the high-quality care that is given, not only to the children, but also to their families.

“Parents and carers spoke to the inspectors about the way the school went to great lengths to support them when they were going through difficult times.”

It added: “By the team they leave school, children from all backgrounds have gained skills which overall are above the levels expected for their age.”

Ms White said: “Parents are very important to us and the feedback from parents was particularly warming.

“We believe that we can’t do our job without their help. We see them all as part of one big family here so we take a lot of time to include them.”