(Photograph) - HILLFIELDS Early Excellence Centre in Coventry, the subject of the first report to be published jointly by the Office for Standards in Education and social services, is basking in praise. The centre is in the toughest area of a tough city. Half the 200 children are eligible for free school meals. Many join with poorly-developed speech and communication skills and "little awareness of social convention".
When they leave the centre, they are well on course to achieving in all areas of the curriculum. Excellent behaviour, high-quality teaching, excellent relationhips between parents, staff and children, strong special needs services and very good leadership and management make Hillfields one of the early excellence centre initiative's outstanding successes. Inspectors said that Hillfields played a central part in many families' lives, meeting the needs of adults, as well as children. Head of the centre Sheila Thorpe said: "Previous OFSTED inspections were like school inspections and that does not indicate the wide range of things going on here. We meet the needs of the whole family and we do it from the time a child is born."