Cleveland unit hits number five in stellar Ofsted run

A specialist nursery in Middlesbrough has achieved Ofsted’s highest rating – for the fifth time.

The Cleveland Unit Child Development Centre – an early years assessment, therapy and teaching centre based at James Cook University Hospital – has consistently been rated ‘outstanding’ by the education watchdog since its first inspection in 2005.

That puts the unit in pretty select company – out of nearly 28,000 early years providers in England, it’s one of just 22 to hit the top grade five times.

The unit supports children between the ages of two and four with complex special educational needs and has a current roll of 26.

During their latest visit, Ofsted found the quality of education, children’s behaviour and personal development, and the management of the unit all to be outstanding.

In her report, Ofsted Inspector Michelle Lorains highlighted staff’s ‘extensive knowledge’ of children’s stages of development, describing them as ‘nurturing, caring and passionate about their work’.

She found they were inspired by a manager with ‘exceptional levels of experience and understanding of how to meet children’s complex medical needs and support children with SEND’.

Children, she found, thrive in the unit, with staff consistently considering how they can help them develop the skills they need for their future.

Feedback from parents is described as ‘highly complimentary’, with one stating that ‘teachers go above and beyond for my child and never let us down’.

Jennie Kitchen, Cleveland Unit Manager and Head of Middlesbrough Council’s Early Years Specialist Support Service, said: “I’m extremely lucky and proud to work with such a dedicated, passionate and skilled team and I’m delighted that Ofsted have again recognised the amazing work that the whole team does to help every child in our care reach their full potential!

“I’m enormously grateful to the Cleveland Unit team, parents and carers and all the other professionals we work with across Education, Health and Care for giving the children at The Cleveland Unit such a fantastic experience that sows the seeds for a happy and successful life.

“To be judged as ‘outstanding’ once is a great achievement but to consistently receive this accolade, now for the fifth time in succession, is really something to be celebrated!”

Councillor Barrie Cooper, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for education and skills, said: “Outstanding barely does justice to the achievements of The Cleveland Unit.

“To be rated outstanding once is quite something – to do that five times in succession is really very special indeed.

“That’s only happened thanks to an enormous amount of hard work, dedication and passion on the part of the staff.

“Congratulations go to Jennie Kitchen and her whole team and all the young people for this fantastic achievement.”