Norwich children’s centre rated “outstanding”

Norwich's first Sure Start children's centre is continuing to blaze a trail after getting an 'outstanding' grading from Ofsted.

Thorpe Hamlet and Heartsease children's centre was among the pioneers of the Labour government's Sure Start programme when it opened in 2000.

It was one of 60 pathfinder projects across England, and opened at the same time as one in Great Yarmouth.

Having celebrated its 10th birthday in July this year, the centre, based on the site of Lionwood Primary at Wolfe Road, Thorpe Hamlet, was inspected on October 6 and 7.

And the visiting team was hugely impressed with what it saw.

The centre, run by Action for Children, is the base for a large team, including health visitors, speech and language therapists, a social worker, a teacher, a project work team and administrators.

It has a creche and a 40-place day care nursery. It also offers adult learning courses in a separate building.

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Inspectors said: 'The centre makes outstanding provision for children and their families within the reach area. As a consequence, outcomes for all users are outstanding.

'Users speak with great passion about how the centre has changed their lives. All staff go out of their way to ensure that every phone call or drop-in is managed sensitively.'

Centre manager Elisabeth Chapman said: 'We were absolutely delighted about the report.

'I'm so proud of the team and the families.

'We've been going for 10 years now and this feels like an acknowledgement of all the hard work that everybody has put in.'

The report added that the centre's budget had fallen by 37pc in the last five years, but it still offered the 'full core offer'.

Inspectors said: 'The professional skill and expertise of the well-established team of health, social work, project worker and education professionals ensures that no need is too great or too small to be met with some practical action plan.

'The enjoyment of all activities is palpable and courses are designed to meet the needs of the area. Because of this adults and children make good and sometimes outstanding progress in their learning.'

They added: 'Leadership and management of the centre are outstanding because of how the centre manager, supported by the very experienced area manager for Action for Children, ensures that every member of the team is fully committed to meeting the needs of all users.

'She has been instrumental in driving forward improvement, including managing continuous budget cuts, with great success.'

To read the report in full, visit