A CHILDREN’S centre used by hundreds of youngsters has received its first Ofsted inspection.

Bicester Children’s Centre at Glory Farm was given a good overall rating.

Of the 1,040 children under the age of five living in the area, 740 are registered at the centre.

Inspector Alan Comerford-Dunbar said the establishment, which is linked to the children’s centre at Brookside, was a successful operation which had engaged with the majority of families in the community and provided “good quality and often intensive support”.

Centre manager Emily Cox said: “We have really strong links with local partners and providers and that came across.

“We are very well established and have been in Bicester a long time in some form or another.

“People are very well aware of the children’s centres because they have had long-term involvement with us.

“More than a third of parents at the centre were involved in adult learning and training activities.

“There are also courses ranging from classes on healthy eating on a budget to sessions for fathers to help them understand postnatal depression.

But while the centre offered good quality health provision, the inspector said breastfeeding rates remained low, and there were no antenatal or postnatal clinics run at the centre. The centre was called on to re-establish links with midwives to develop and improve such clinics to help boost breastfeeding rates. Mrs Cox said cutbacks in the midwifery service had meant it was difficult to host activities at the centre, but other staff were trained in breastfeeding advice and helped direct parents to where they could find services elsewhere.