Frequently Asked Questions for governors
Q1: What are Children’s Centres?
A: Children‟s Centres (CC) are places where children under five years old and their
families can receive integrated services and information. By the end of March 2010,
every community will be served by a Children‟s Centre, offering permanent universal
provision across the country, ensuring that every child gets the best start in life. These
services vary according to centre but may include:
Integrated early education and childcare - all centres offering early years provision
have a minimum half-time qualified teacher (increasing to full time within 18 months
of the centre opening).
Support for parents - including advice on parenting, local childcare options and
access to specialist services for families.
Child and family health services - ranging from health screening, health visitor
services to breast-feeding support.
Helping parents into work - with links to the local Jobcentre Plus and training.
Q2: Who is leading the development of Children’s Centres?
A: Since 12th January 2010 local authorities have had a duty to ensure adequate
provision of Children‟s Centres across their areas. Local authorities are expected to
plan their Children‟s Centres to meet the needs of local communities, in consultation
with parents, the private, voluntary and independent sectors, Primary Care Trusts,
Jobcentre Plus and other key partners to deliver a range of services.
Q3: How many Centres will there be in Westminster?
A: There has been a phased implementation to Children‟s Centres, which started in
2004 and will finish in March 2010.
Westminster currently has 12 Children‟s Centres, which are at different stages of
development. By end of March 2010 Westminster will have 15 centres.
Each centre has to provide a minimum level of service called the „core offer‟. There
are 2 core offers; one for the 30% most deprived areas and one for the 70% least
deprived. However, any family who has a higher level of need, regardless of where
they live, should be able to access this support.
Q4: How long have they been running?
A: Roll out started in April 2004. Most of the early Children‟s Centres developed from
local programmes, early excellence centres or Neighbourhood nurseries
Q: Where are they in Westminster?
Children‟s Centres Q&A March 2010 AF / JV 1
A: There is a centre in each neighbourhood but families can access the centre which is
most convenient for their needs. There is a „lead‟ setting for each Children‟s Centre,
which acts as a local „hub‟. Listed below are the 12 Children‟s Centres and leads:
North West locality
Queens Park Children‟s Centre, Dorothy Gardner Centre, 293 Shirland Road,
London W9 3JY
Harrow Road Children‟s Centre, Mary Paterson Nursery School, 13 Riverto n Close,
London W9 3DS
Westbourne Children‟s Centre, Edward Wilson Primary School, Senior Street,
London W2 5TL
Bayswater Children‟s Centre, St Mary of the Angels RC Primary School,
Shrewsbury Road, London W2
Queensway Children‟s Centre, Hallfield Infants School,
North East locality
Church Street Children‟s Centre, Portman Early Childhood Centre, 12 – 18
Salisbury Street, London NW8 8DE
Maida Vale Children‟s Centre, St Augustine‟s CE Primary School, Kilburn Park
Road, London NW6 5XA
Micky star Cildren‟s Centre, 58 – 61 St Michael‟s Street, London W2 1QR
Paddington Green Children‟s Centre, Park Place Villas, London W2 1SP
West End Children‟s Centre, Soho Family centre, St James‟s Residence, 23 Brewer
Street, London W1F 0RN
Churchill Gardens Children‟s Centres, Churchill Hill Gardens Primary School,
Ranelagh Road, London SW1P 4LX
Marsham Street Children‟s Centre, 121 Marsham Street, London Sw1P 4LX
The 3 new Centres will be a)Abbey Road and Regents Park, b) Marylebone and c)
Knightsbridge and Belgravia. The lead for these centres will be the library services.
Q5: What are the governance arrangements for the Children’s Centres?
A: Each Children‟s Centre is grouped into a locality. There are 3 localities across the
city – north west, north east and south. Each has a Children‟s Centre Advisory
Board. The Advisory Board is an alliance of key agencies including the school and
individuals and as such has no legal status. For example, the partnership cannot
employ staff or own buildings; this must be done by a member organisation on
behalf of the partnership. It is recognised that Advisory Board members will have
their own organisational policies and governance arrangements but come together
to find new ways to meet the needs of local families and to set shared targets, with
the aim of raising the attainment of individual children and their families.
Westminster City Council (WCC) is the accountable body for Children‟s Centres and
is strategically accountable to the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and
families) for the implementation of Children‟s Centres across Westminster. Central
to this strategic responsibility is the development and co-ordination of local
partnerships and management arrangements.
Children‟s Centres Q&A March 2010 AF / JV 2
Each Children‟s Centre has a local delivery group (sometimes this can operate
across 2 centres), which meets to plan local delivery. These groups report to their
respective locality advisory board.
Q6: How much time will our headteacher spend at the Children’s Centre (or on CC
A: This will vary. Each CC will have a Manager with day to day responsibility for the
Centre but it is hoped that the headteacher of a lead setting will provide line
management of the Children‟s Centre Manager and participate (or lead) in setting
the strategic direction of the local centre.
Q7: What governing body (gb) involvement should we have and what structures
do we need?
A: Some schools are “lead settings” ie they have the main responsibility for co -
ordinating provision in their Children‟s Centre. The headteacher will line-manage
the Children‟s Centre Manager who will be responsible for developing the inter-
agency team in the Children‟s Centre. All CC managers are employed by
Westminster City Council as the accountable body and managed by the
headteacher through a service level agreement.
The headteacher will provide regular feedback to the governing body on CC
development and progress. The governing body includes representatives of the
local community and is well placed to contribute to discussions about appropriate
services to match local need and to give feedback. Where schools are lead settings
the governing body may choose to have representation on the Children‟s Centre
Advisory Board and local delivery group.
The governing body will want to discuss the impact of the CC on the well-being and
achievement of children and local families. It will also need to keep under review the
impact on school staff workload and be prepared to allocate support and resources.
The budget should take account of any joint use wear, tear and damage and ensure
that any lettings or joint use agreements and contracts are fair and do not
disadvantage the school. To achieve this the gb might develop a separate
committee with specific terms of reference to oversee community provision or
include relevant issues in the terms of reference of existing committees. Some
schools have joint committees with neighbouring schools to look at common issues
and community provision
Q8: How does the Children’s Centre relate to extended services provision?
A: Children‟s Centres and extended services are both aimed at providing extra support
for families and their children. Where a Children‟s Centre is located in a school this
means that parents can have access to a range of additional services from 0 – 11
years. To ensure that this is meaningful provision for families it is essential that the
two are planned together.
Q9: If our school / centre is not a lead how can we get involved?
A: Each Children‟s Centre has a local delivery group, which meets to discuss and plan
local services. Partners within the area are very welcome to attend this group. For
more details contact Jayne Vertkin on 020 7479 8778 or
Children‟s Centres Q&A March 2010 AF / JV 3
Q10: What is the relationship between provision for under fives in schools and
A: The Children‟s Centres consist of providers in a given catchment area, who are
delivering services to the 0 – 5 year age group and their families. The aim is that
these services will be provided through one point of contact. Therefore under 5s
provision within the school is an essential component of the Children‟s Centre.
Q11: Who is responsible for the Children’s Centre building on my site?
A: The school is responsible for the day to day management of the building if it is on its
site. This includes responsibility for health and safety within the building.
Practitioners working from the centre will be from a variety of organisations and the
school would not be responsible for any negligence resulting from their poor
All running costs of the Children‟s Centre building will be funded from Children‟s
Q12: If the school is responsible for health and safety, does that mean that we can
control how the practitioners carry out their activities
A: The Governing Body may not “control” how the practitioners carry out their
activities. In so far as individual professionals practise out of the premises, doctors,
nurses etc, responsibility for any professional negligence issues would sit with the
individual practitioner and their employer. Liability might only arise if the premises
were in some way deficient and this directly caused injury to a person using the
Q13: If the gb does not “control” how the practitioner carries out their duties, what
is the governing body position if the practitioner breaches health and safety
regulations and there is an accident
A: If there a breach of health & safety regulations and there is an accident in the
administration of a treatment or procedure, the Governing Body might only be
responsible if the accident was caused by faulty equipment in the building which
was the responsibility of the Governing Body or by a faulty aspect of the building.
Q14: Who is responsible for the quality of all provision at the centre on our site?
A: The Children‟s Centre manager will be responsible for identifying any quality issues
relating to provision in the Children‟s Centre; this may be on or off site. In the first
instance the manager will discuss this with his / her line manager and the Head of
Children‟s Centres development. A plan of action will be agreed and if not resolved
the matter will be taken to the respective advisory board.
Q15: Who employs the staff? .
A: Children‟s Centre staff are employed by a variety of statutory, voluntary and private
providers – eg social workers by Westminster City Council, Health Visitors by the
Primary Care Trust. The Council will have an SLA with the employers of the
practitioners for them to practice from the Centre. Health and Safety and insurance
responsibilities should be set out in that document.
Children‟s Centres Q&A March 2010 AF / JV 4
Q16: Who has effective control over the practitioner while they are in the
Children's Centre? Are they required to follow the instructions of the
Their employers would have effective control over practitioners whilst they are on
the Children's Centre premises. Practitioners would be expected to accede to any
reasonable requests however and to comply with instructions eg to evacuate in
Q17: What if a child is hurt at a session held in the Children’s Centre?
A: If a child is hurt whilst in the Children‟s Centre building the same health and safety
procedures are followed as for other incidents in the school. If the incident involves
a member of staff who is employed by a partner agency notification of the incident
must be sent to their employing organisation. This will be managed by the
Children‟s Centre manager. Any liability will rest with the organisation responsible
for the accident.
Q18: Who insures the building? Who pays any excess on the insurance?
A: The building will be insured as a part of the school premises. Any excess on the
insurance relating to Children‟s Centre usage will be paid with Children‟s Centre
Q19: Will there be a formal arrangement in place with Westminster about the
building on our site?
A: Yes there will be a formal agreement relating to the management of any Children‟s
Centre annex. This will outline the ongoing management and maintenance of the
building plus identify the revenue contribution from the Children‟s Centre.
Q20: Who will respond to any complaints about the Children’s Centre?
A: In the first instance, the Children‟s Centre manager will respond to any complaints.
As part of this process the manager will liaise with their line manager and the head
of Children‟s Centres development.
Q21: How do we contact the local Children’s Centre?
A: For more information about the Children‟s Centres contact Jayne Vertkin, Head of
Children‟s Centres Development, on 020 7479 8778 or
Children‟s Centres Q&A March 2010 AF / JV 5
Children‟s Centres Q&A March 2010 AF / JV 6