Shout out for a Sure Start!
A majority of Ofsted evaluations of Sure Start centres indicate that their outreach efforts are successful at reaching the most vulnerable families. A study of Ofsted reports by children’s charity 4Children found that 57% had had a “highly positive” report and another 32% were “adequate”.
The future of Sure Start in the CSR is far from certain, and these findings will build support for 4Children’s “Shout Out for a Sure Start” campaign. The study will also feed in to the debates of the Family Commission the charity has established – due to report shortly before the Comprehensive Spending Review is published.
For those of us who worry that Sure Start would become less popular if it were means-tested, David Cameron’s took a significant step last month. In a widely-reported speech he argued that Sure Start should be restricted to the poorest families to protect them from the “sharp-elbowed middle classes”. This is in line with the Conservative manifesto, which said that the Party’s pledge to provide an extra 4,200 Sure Start health visitors would be paid for
out of the Department of Health budget and by refocusing Sure Start’s peripatetic outreach services.
This means that the evidence that Sure Start outreach services are successful at reaching the most vulnerable is particularly important – something to bear in mind if claims that the middle classes are monopolising Sure Start Centres are used to justify cuts next month.