Cressingham, one of two children’s homes run in Reading by Brighter Futures for Children, has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted after a recent unannounced inspection visit.

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 and managers.

This was Cressingham’s 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 3-4 December 2019.

Cressingham provides short breaks (respite) care to families of children/young people who have complex health needs, learning and associated physical and/or sensory disabilities, complex communication disabilities (Autism) and/or challenging behaviour associated with a disability.

It offers overnight accommodation for six children (male and female) between the ages of 8 to 18 who primarily live in the Reading area but also accepts applications from neighbouring local authorities.

The inspection report said that ‘children benefit immensely from their short breaks and look forward to them’.

The inspector found that ‘staff focus on the children doing their best, seeing beyond their disability’ and that children enjoyed excellent relationships with staff, which was evident through the children’s ‘laughter and broad smiles’.

He said staff ‘care for the children with tenderness, warmth and love. This creates an atmosphere which is nurturing and supporting, in which children thrive.’

Staff were praised for threading the children’s identity and cultural needs through all aspects of their care and for providing a range of stimulating activities and encouraging play.

In addition, they were praised for demonstrating an excellent knowledge in how to protect and safeguard the children and for recognising the children’s vulnerability and for not being complacent.

The inspector noted that the registered manager, Helena Baptista, had developed an ‘effective impact assessment to consider the suitability of children being referred to the home’ and that children were well matched, with opportunities to socialise and have fun with other children to support their personal development.

Praise was given for up-to-date support plans, healthcare plans and safer recruitment practice.

The inspector had particular praise for Helena’s forward thinking, innovative ideas and leadership skills, with weekly team meetings and training needs fully met.

Tony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, said he was delighted with the rating, which was testament to Helena’s leadership and the whole team’s dedication to improving the lives of the children and young people they cared for.

‘This is a double success for Helena and her team, as Pinecroft, the other children’s home she manages, was rated outstanding last year too.

‘We are all extremely proud of everyone involved in the delivery of an outstanding and vital service to children, young people and their families.’

Cllr Liz Terry, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: ‘I would like to congratulate the team at Cressingham Children’s Home for consistently providing high-quality caring services for the children and young people who visit.

‘Children benefit enormously from their short breaks at Cressingham and their parents and carers know they are being looked after by a wonderfully caring and thoughtful staff team.

‘Everyone associated with the home should be very proud of such an exceptional Ofsted report.’

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