The Lodge nursery rated ‘Good’

A nursery run by Brighter Futures for Children has been judged ‘Good’ following a full Ofsted inspection.

The Lodge, at Southcote Children’s Centre, provides full day care for up to 42 children aged two to four-years-old.

The inspector awarded a ‘Good’ rating in all the key areas of: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

The report says days are structured to enable children to spend a significant amount of time outdoors and that they show excitement as they explore with their friends. Children access activities which spark their imagination and they are confident to follow their own interests.

Children are familiar with the daily routines, such as washing their hands on arrival, and staff sensitively encourage them to understand the importance of personal hygiene routines, the inspector says.

All children were found to be making good progress in their learning, and parents commented that their young ones loved attending the nursery and were progressing well.

The report highlights that support for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities and for disadvantaged children is a particular strength of the nursery.

It continues: “All children enjoy the wide variety of experiences on offer and make good progress from their developmental starting points.”

The inspector notes that children enjoy playing in a safe and secure environment and that daily checks are carried out to ensure resources and equipment are in good condition.

Recommendations to further improve the nursery include; helping parents to become more actively involved in their children’s learning at home and to ensure children of all abilities are sufficiently challenged.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “I am delighted to read of the very positive findings from the Ofsted inspection of The Lodge. It is encouraging to hear that the children make good progress and that they show such excitement and imagination in their learning.

“Congratulations to all the staff who work so hard to ensure children learn and develop in such interesting and inspiring ways.”

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Lead Councillor for Education, said: “Well done to everyone at The Lodge for providing such a fun and caring environment for all children who attend.

“This is a vital stage of a young child’s growth and development and I am proud we have such good provision for Reading’s families.”

The inspection took place on 16 August and the full Ofsted report can be found on their website here

Successful bid to improve support for disadvantaged families

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) has successfully bid for government funding to develop a programme which will improve services for families in Reading and beyond.

Around £915,000 has been awarded to BFfC by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) from the Local Data Accelerator Fund.

The bid was submitted in collaboration with West Berkshire Council, Wokingham Borough Council, Thames Valley Police, Portsmouth City Council, Solent NHS, Clinical Commissioning Group and the Department for Work & Pensions West Berkshire Cluster, and supported by Reading Borough Council.

The funding will allow BFfC to develop a system which brings together data to enable social care, police and health professionals to have a joined-up approach to supporting disadvantaged families. The initiative forms part of the government’s Supporting Families programme.

BFfC had already successfully set up a data-hub in Reading which gave social care practitioners easier access to information about families and allowed them to establish the families’ current and future needs and take a more trauma informed approach.

It also allows professionals to track the progress of families and highlights where additional support may be needed to prevent needs from escalating.

The project has helped BFfC become one of the top performers in the national Supporting Families programme.

Other local authorities have been keen to mirror the success of the Reading Data Hub and this funding will allow BFfC and its partners to develop the scheme and roll it out to other council areas.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “I am delighted that Brighter Futures for Children has been awarded this funding and would like to thank the MHCLG, our partners and everyone else involved in the bid.

“The programme brings all the information held on families together in one place to give professionals an overview of each family’s situation. It reduces the time spent looking through reports and spreadsheets and allows social workers to spend more time visiting the families they are supporting.”

Cllr Liz Terry, Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: “Congratulations to Brighter Futures for Children on their successful bid for this funding which will help improve outcomes for Reading’s children and their families.

“I am proud that this innovative work, which started in Reading, will go on to benefit families in our neighbouring council areas and potentially other local authorities across the country.

“Closer working between our social care team and partner agencies makes complete sense and I look forward to this project bringing professionals even closer together for the benefit of disadvantaged families.”

The government press release can be found here.

Thanks to the Virtual School

I stood there in the doorway, butterflies in my stomach and I took a moment to reflect. When I came into care at the age of nine I could barely read or write.

My journey here, to this point, has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. The baggage I came with and couldn’t shake, the anger, the tears of frustration and despair, the happiness, the joy and the pride.

I remembered the butterflies in my stomach on August the 23rd as I held my brown envelope, surrounded by people screaming, shouting, laughing and crying as they discovered their GCSE results. I started to panic because I knew I needed certain grades if I was going to realise my ambition to become a nurse.

My Mum (Foster) was waiting outside and I didn’t want to let her down even though she always said that it didn’t matter what the results were, it was my journey that made the difference and as long as I tried my best she was proud of me.

The Virtual School has supported me every step of my journey. When I struggled they provided tutors to give me that extra help and without that I could not even imagine taking GCSEs. They made revising slightly easier once I acknowledged I needed that extra help and the tutors were great and I loved every minute of it – even Physics!

My Foster family were always there supporting and encouraging me, even when I knew I was being quite horrible to them. After I had sat the exams, I felt like I could finally breathe again. I knew that I had put my full effort into the exams and the revision that went with it. My Mum (Foster) however didn’t allow me to just relax – she had organised work experience in a nursery for a week and signed me up for National Citizen Service.

For five weeks I forgot GCSEs and focused on me – facing new challenges, building new friendships, learning new skills - a fantastic experience. I took a deep breath and tore open my envelope and felt in an instant happiness and then despair. My Mum (Foster) looked at my results and hugged me and I saw in her face how proud she was. 7 GCSEs – 5 6s and 2 4s but I had just focused on the one I had failed which I needed for Photography A Level at my current school.

She picked me up and help me realise how proud I should be of my achievement. I had made it into 6th form. I have learnt that when you are faced with setbacks there are always other opportunities which open up. My Foster family helped me take ownership of my initial disappointment, to focus on the positives and push myself outside my comfort zone.

I applied for different A Level options at different schools and was accepted by one which allowed me to follow my interest in Photography, as well as Medical Sciences and Geography at A-Level. I could also study Drama.

I could not have reached this point without the support and encouragement of my Foster family and the Virtual School. I am happy and proud of what I have achieved. Some of my achievements that the virtual school has helped me with - 7 GCSEs, Level 1 Flute, Level 4 in Climbing and numerous badges and certificates for swimming and challenges through Guides.

I am happy to say I am attending 6th form. It is very different to school. You are not spoon-fed information, you are expected to work more independently, which is a bit of a shock and there is a step up in terms of the work needed. You are given more responsibility for learning, but you are studying subjects that you enjoy. Teachers talk to you as adults and you’re expected to behave as such. It is fun being able to dress how I want each day and I enjoy dressing up in business smart clothes on Fridays.

So here I stand, the butterflies this time are excitement and anticipation, looking forward to facing the challenge of a new school and a whole new type of learning. It’s down to me now. I confidently pull open the door and enter.

My school story

In 2017 I joined All Saints Junior School. I moved from my old school and joined the year 6 at All Saints School. It was a little weird at first but everyone was really kind.

The good thing about it was the learning. Initially, it was hard to get into friendship groups because everyone else had formed friendship groups but eventually I made really good friends that I still stay in touch with some times.

My teacher was really supportive of me and my headteacher wasn’t sure I would do well but I did really well. In May 2018, I had one of the biggest tests in my school years “MY SATs”. I got greater depth in all my subjects and I got full marks in SPaG.

My headteacher was very pleased with my results and supported me in getting into my new school.

I had to do the entrance test for Leighton Park School which I passed but they didn’t tell me my score. That was my final year in primary school. The transition was really smooth to LP. Leighton Park is a big school that is rated outstanding. A new Music Centre is being built and almost finished. I can’t wait to see the finished brand new music building.

My first half term was brilliant at LP. They have really good hospitality and I felt like part of a family. The food in LP is brilliant and the teachers are really friendly and they help you get along with everyone else.

We have Collects which are about things in real life and we reflect about the things we have talked about during the morning session. My favourite lessons are Computer Science, Maths, English, Drama, History and Geography.

I have made a few friends, I also play games with them and I also go to after school activities. In conclusion, I am enjoying this opportunity to learn and experience school life.

Studying A Levels

“Where is your essay?!” “Have you done your homework?” “Deadline’s in two days!”

Imagine hearing, reading, dreaming these words almost every day, ceaselessly for two years. These words overload and override your brain; torment you daily and nightly; an attack on your conscience which threatens to crack under the strain and stress of everything SCHOOL.

I, for one, can relate. Beginning my A Levels made me feel so grown up, ready to take on the academic and personal challenge of sixth form life. The resolve with which I begun my A levels slowly crumbled over time, and if it weren’t for my teachers, family, and social workers constantly encouraging and reminding me, I would not be where I am now.

As an English Literature student, I was expected to write multiple essays and complete coursework, which were integral to my overall grade. I began to procrastinate, pushing away all my responsibilities until it was too late. Or so it seemed to me as I became hopeless, ready to give in to the very real possibility of being kicked off my course.

But! Alas, my knight in shining armour (aka both of my English teachers AND my registration tutor) all came galloping to my rescue, upon their majestic white horses of unlimited wisdom and knowledge! You can empathise when I say that I absolutely did not want to comply with my teachers.

Despite this, they persisted, and somehow managed to convince me to stay after school every day for two weeks (!!!) and work on my coursework with them. Once I had finally completed this very important piece of work, you can imagine how optimistic I began to feel about the world again. It felt as though I’d been at the gym for too long and had finally put down the 80kg weights I was lifting, finally able to smile again in class, finally stopped avoiding my teachers, finally stopped bursting into tears at every silly situation. Finally I could move forward.

And so, I spent hours and hours working excessively in the art block (where I felt most comfortable) finishing off yet another important essay, and writing my personal statement for university. Yes! I wouldn’t be suspended from my course, I would achieve my highest potential and I would go to uni!

I became my happy, bubbly and loud self again and threw myself into my work, doing the thing I enjoyed most: painting. The nerve-wracking experience of revising and sitting my A Level exams, the positively turbulent organisation of my art show, which would be reviewed and graded by an invigilator. This was all worth the hassle for the attributes I acquired over the time.

I learnt responsibility, time management, amazing critical and analytical skills which will stay with me forever, and A Level results which exceeded my expectations.

I achieved an A* in art, a C in Psychology and a D in English. Whilst these don’t sound like the best grade combination, it’s important to remember that I did the best I could considering everything which was going on in my personal life, and I did amazingly in the subject that mattered the most. I’m very proud of myself and really encourage every other child out there to aspire to be as great as they can be!

I am now at the University of Sunderland, doing a foundation Diploma in Art and Design, and loving every second of it. Besides that, the best part is I live with brilliant flatmates who make every moment of my life here on forward magical, and I couldn’t have done it all without the help of my teachers and foster family. Thank you for reading my article.

Reading part of a pilot for a new UK government emergency alert system

The UK government is introducing a new Emergency Alerts system that will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone when lives are in danger.


To ensure the Emergency Alerts system works effectively, the government will be carrying out a series of tests. The first test will be in Reading on Tuesday 29 June, between 1pm and 2pm.

The Emergency Alert will be used to warn you in emergencies such as severe flooding or terror attacks.

Many people in Reading at that time on that day with a modern mobile phone that is switched on could receive a message, and their phone will ring and vibrate even if it is set to silent. It is based on location not residency so it will affect everyone in the area, even if they are just passing through.

Emergency Alerts are sent to all compatible mobile phones within an area of risk. They don’t track your location, need your phone number, or collect personal data. Only the government and the emergency services will be able to send them. If you don’t have a mobile phone, you’ll still be kept informed through other channels.

If you get an Emergency Alert on your phone, you’ll hear a loud, siren-like sound. A message on your screen will tell you about the emergency and how best to respond. You’ll be able to check an alert is genuine at

If you receive a test alert, you won’t need to do anything on this occasion. If you receive one in the future, read the alert carefully and follow the instructions.

Following the test, please complete the user survey at so we can gather and respond to feedback and make improvements to Emergency Alerts.

To find out more about Emergency Alerts, visit

National Thank a Teacher Day 2021

A national day to celebrate the work of teachers is taking place on Wednesday 23 June and Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) is encouraging Reading’s children and parents to take part.

The last year has been another challenging one for schools as COVID-19 continued to put additional work and responsibilities on teachers and support staff.

Children and young people may have been welcomed back to school but it has certainly not been business as usual.

Schools were responsible for setting up their own testing hubs for students and have been supplying kits for teachers and young people. Recently, some schools were also asked to help with the ‘surge testing’ campaign in parts of Reading.

School leaders have had to follow constant updates to COVID-19 guidance and review the procedures they have put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

The cancellation of this year’s summer exams has resulted in teachers carrying out assessments for each candidate.

All this is on top of their day to day job of teaching Reading’s children and young people.

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at BFfC, said:

“We wanted to use National Thank a Teacher Day as an opportunity to reiterate our gratitude to Reading’s teaching staff for the way they have continued to step up to the demands which have placed upon them.

“Their responsibilities have gone far beyond teaching children throughout the pandemic and they deserve praise for their commitment and professionalism. But most of all, our teachers have shown how much they care about their pupils and how they have been constantly prepared to go above and beyond for them.

“On behalf of Brighter Futures for Children, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all teaching staff in Reading for their hard work and dedication.”

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“National teacher day is an opportunity for us to thank all of the teaching staff across Reading’s schools for the tremendous work they do every day to ensure our young people get the best start to life they possibly can.

“We have so many inspirational, life changing teachers in our schools and we are proud to have each one of these here with us shaping the future of Reading. We all have that teacher we remember, the one that inspired us to believe we can do better, to go on to achieve bigger and better things than even we believed ourselves.

“Our teachers have always been there for our young people to trust and confide in, and over the last year this constant has been more important than ever in so many people’s lives. So, a big thank you to our teachers today and every day.”

National Thank a Teacher Day is a great opportunity for children, parents and carers to show their appreciation for their teachers.

Children are being encouraged to send their message of thanks on Wednesday 23 June by recording a short video clip, sending a free e-card, sharing messages on social media etc. There are plenty of ideas and activities for children on the national website at:

You can also share you message with us at @BFfC_Child on twitter and at @BFfCChild on Facebook.

Reading foster carers recognised for outstanding contribution and long service

A virtual awards ceremony was held to recognise the amazing work of Reading’s foster carers, new and old.

Brighter Futures for Children’s independent fostering agency (IFA) staged the online awards and dinner evening on Tuesday 8 June.

Foster carers were gifted a takeaway dinner of their choice to enjoy during the celebration of their fantastic achievements.

The fostering team were joined by special guests, including Reading’s Executive Director of Children’s Services Deborah Glassbrook, to celebrate foster carers who have been fostering for between five and 25 years, and newer recruits.

Ms Glassbrook said: “It is a vocation for our foster carers to make a lasting and positive impact on children and young people in care from Reading and elsewhere. We are so proud of them all.”

Brighter Futures for Children’s IFA, which is not for profit, also congratulated foster carers who are new to the team and have completed the required training, support and development standards, which is an essential milestone for newly approved foster carers.

Fresh for this year, the IFA introduced a new award for Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care. BFfC IFA staff were asked to nominate foster carers who, they believe, had gone above and beyond to support a child or young person in their care.

Nicola Gilham, Chair of the BFFC IFA committee, who presented the awards on the evening, said afterwards: “The number of nominations received for outstanding contribution demonstrates how respected and valued our foster carers are.

“Congratulations to all the foster carers who received an award. It was wonderful to be able to thank them for the vital role they play in the lives of Reading’s children and young people in care.”

Marjorie Small (pictured above) was one of three foster carers who received the outstanding contribution award. Marjorie has fostered with BFfC for four years and was nominated for her exceptional care of a young boy with complex needs.

The social worker who nominated her said: “Ms Small is a fantastic advocate for the young man in her care, especially when it comes to education.”

Ms Small said: “It was a privilege to receive this award. Every child deserves a loving home, and a forever home. It is always so rewarding to be a foster carer and it is an honour to be recognised for doing a good job. I wouldn’t change it for the world!”

If you would like to learn more about fostering in Reading visit:

Brighter Futures for Children’s fostering team take on the #JerusalemaChallenge

What better way to spend a sunny morning than in a stunning Reading park, learning the steps and ‘moves’ to take on the ‘Jerusalema dance challenge’.

That’s what staff and foster carers from Brighter Futures for Children did recently, joined by children and young people in care, who were on hand as unofficial teachers!

Fostering teams across the UK have been challenging each other to perform the dance routine, which went viral last year, to raise awareness of fostering and the fantastic opportunities it brings to those who decide to foster.

The song behind the dance means “go with me, protect me and take me home”, which resonates with the role of foster carers, who welcome a child or young person into their home until they can either go back to their family, stay in settled foster care or are adopted.

After being challenged by Foster4 Cheshire West, Chester and Halton and Warrington, Brighter Futures for Children’s fostering team danced away with the stunning backdrop of Caversham Court Gardens. They have now passed the baton and challenged Havering Council’s fostering team to do the same.

You can watch the video here:

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “The Jerusalema dance challenge is a fabulous, fun way to spread the word about fostering.

“Well done to everyone who took part in the Reading challenge which demonstrates the wonderful spirit of our foster carers. I hope the video is enjoyed by many people and helps raise awareness of our need for more local foster carers.”

Could you rise to the challenge and become a foster carer in Reading? We’d love to hear from you and, no, you don’t need to be able to dance!

To learn more about fostering, visit, call 0118 469 3020 or email

Invitation to deliver summer activities for Reading children

Organisations across Reading are being invited to bid for funding to provide activities for disadvantaged children throughout the summer holidays.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC), which provides education and children’s services in Reading, is co-ordinating the programme as part of the government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.

The company is interested in hearing from a range of providers who could offer enriching activities and healthy food for young people who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals.

The Department for Education is making up to £220m available to local areas to deliver the HAF programme over the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.

BFfC is looking to work with a range of providers across the borough, including community-based and voluntary organisations, existing holiday care providers, schools, childminders, sports clubs and creative and performing arts groups.

Funding will be considered for organisations that can prove they can deliver:

  • High quality enriching activities which includes at least one hour of physical activity
  • A healthy, nutritious meal
  • Skills, activities/classes aimed at helping children and their parents to make healthy and affordable choices
  • A positive legacy that lasts longer than the experience

Deborah Glassbrook, Reading’s Director of Children’s Services, said: “The Holiday Activity and Food programme is an important scheme for children and young people who have some disadvantages, so we want to make sure we can offer the best possible range of activities.

“We are looking for local organisations that are able to provide fun and enriching activities and nutritious food which will allow children and young people in Reading to be more active and eat more healthily over the summer break.

“I know there is a huge variety of organisations in Reading that would be able to provide excellent activities for our young people and I would urge them to contact us now.”

Further information for potential providers of holiday activities can be found at:

Any organisations interested in working with the HAF progamme, please contact:

Note to editors

For more details about the Holiday Activities and Food programme, visit: