Pinecroft, one of two children’s homes run in Reading by the newly-formed Brighter Futures for Children, has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted after an unannounced inspection visit recently.

The inspector awarded ‘Outstanding’ ratings to all three key areas – the overall experiences and progress of children, how well children and young people were helped and protected and the effectiveness of leaders.

This was the first Ofsted inspection since Brighter Futures for Children took over children’s services from Reading Borough Council in December 2018. The inspector visited the home on July 2-3 this year.

Pinecroft provides care for up to five children with learning, physical, disability or sensory impairments, or a combination of these.

The inspector found that the children’s home provides ‘highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good. The actions of the children’s home contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people who need help, protection and care’.

He referred to staff as ‘smiley, passionate and enthusiastic’ and added ‘the well-established team works hard to maximise and enrich the children’s experiences. This creates an atmosphere which is full of warmth and love where staff are nurturing and supportive of the children.’

Staff were praised for their ‘excellent’ links with healthcare professionals and relationships with parents and for embracing children’s identity and cultural needs.

The inspector noted that In-depth risk assessments underpinned health plans and medication administration processes, which, in turn, provided clear, detailed guidance for staff, so that  specialised healthcare could be delivered ‘to the highest standard’.

Comments were made on the children’s colourful bedrooms, on the range of activities available, the promotion of equality and diversity and that children’s needs were effectively met.

Staff were praised for their diligent approach to ensure that children’s views, wishes and feelings were sought and on the innovative ways staff had devised to communicate with children. This included a dictionary linked to a child’s vocalisations. Once limited to one sound, she is now using up to 100 words.

There was particular praise for the registered manager, Helena Baptista, who was described by the inspector as ‘highly experienced…dynamic, ambitious and forward thinking’.

‘Her organised approach means that records are meticulous and the home is managed to the highest standard. She continually strives for excellence, drawing on different models of care to inform her vision for the service. The strength of her leadership inspires a culture where the staff are focused and committed. They work together to deliver an exceptional level of care.’

Tony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, said this was an exceptional achievement by highly motivated and dedicated staff.

‘We are all extremely proud of the team at Pinecroft. Helena’s leadership style is inclusive, pro-active and highly effective in motivating her staff who, in turn, deliver an outstanding and vital service to children, young people and their families.

‘The whole team’s approach is both exceptional and inspiring.’

Cllr Liz Terry, Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: ‘I’d like to congratulate the entire team a Pinecroft for again achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgement.

‘The management team and staff have consistently impressed Ofsted inspectors with their dedication and excellent work with children who have a range of learning disabilities and complex medical needs.

‘It is heartening to know that children who attend Pinecroft enjoy such a positive experience in a warm and caring environment.’

Registered manager Helena Baptista said: ‘This report is a credit to the young people and staff, who have work so hard together to attain the best possible outcomes. To achieve an ‘Outstanding’ judgement in every single inspection area, with no recommendations or requirements, is absolutely incredible! I am really pleased that Ofsted was able to observe the work we do and confirm that we delivery care to the highest standard.

‘I am really proud of my team, who are an extremely skilled group of professionals that are passionate  about making  difference to the lives of the children we care for, a special mention is needed for my assistant unit manager Sherwin Springer who oversees the operation of the home on a day to day basis.’

The full report can be found on Ofsted’s website: