Two Leyland nurseries have been criticised by Ofsted for breaching the legal framework and not focusing on child protection.
Here, KAY TAYLOR speaks to the managers of St Andrew’s Pre-school Playgroup and the Small World Private Day Nursery.
Ofsted has blasted provision at St Andrew’s Pre-school Playgroup, run from St Andrew’s Church Hall on Worden Lane, as being ‘inadequate’, and says there are some breaches of the legal framework.
The inspection report states: “The management team does not demonstrate a secure understanding of how to meet the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. As a result, there are breaches of the legal framework.”
Inspector Susan Hawitt also found that “the management of the playgroup is weak. The committee does not support the manager and staff in their role to ensure children receive good quality care.
“There are no arrangements in place for the supervision and appraisal of the manager.
“Consequently, training needs are not identified, resulting in a lack of opportunity for professional development.”
The playgroup, which has been registered for more than 30 years and is managed by a voluntary management committee, currently looks after 30 children.
How well the early years provision meets the needs of the range of children, and the contribution of the early years provision to the well-being of children, were also determined to be ‘inadequate.’
However, the report does point out certain strengths, including ‘caring staff’ who children have formed a close bond with, and the range of activities available for youngsters.
The inspector also notices that parents are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning, and that staff support children’s transition to school by sharing information regarding their learning.
Manager Linda Simpson, who has been at the nursery on and off for the past 20 years, said the breach of legal framework came from some out-of-date paperwork.
“The caring for the children is fine,” she says. “It’s just the paperwork.
“One of the training records was out-of-date, so that’s an automatic ‘inadequate’ judgment.
“Actions have been put in place now to make improvements, such as staff appraisals, and we have some new forms to create more links and get more feedback from parents.”
She adds: “I am a little disappointed with the result. I knew we wouldn’t be ‘outstanding’ because we don’t get any funding; few do get ‘outstanding’.
“But we’re doing our best to make improvements.”
Small World Private Day Nursery nursery, based on Liege Road, was last year condemned by Ofsted for breaching legal health and safety requirements, with the report saying: “The nursery is not kept suitably clean and well maintained, so the children’s health and safety is compromised.”
It was judged to be ‘inadequate’ at the time, and a monitoring inspection was carried out a few weeks ago.
Now, the education watchdog has said that the provision ‘requires improvement’, but points out that in staff striving to get a better Ofsted result, some areas of nursery standards are suffering.
Inspector Sara Edwards says: “The nursery has made significant progress since the last inspection. Parents comment on how quickly changes have been made and of the positive impact this has had on their children.
“Management demonstrate a strong commitment to improvement and continue to reflect on practice and its impact on the children.
“However, in concentrating on the drive for improvement, there has not been a strong focus placed on child protection practice recently, which has led to some gaps in some practitioners’ safeguarding knowledge.
“As a result, some practitioners are not as confident as others in independently identifying and acting on any possible child protection issues.”
But she adds: “Recruitment procedures are sound and ensure practitioners are safe and suitable to work with children as suitability checks are carried out and qualifications and references verified.”
The report adds that the 31 children at the nursery “enjoy learning with interesting activities and resources” and that parents are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning.
But it points out that while the teaching has good aspects, “it is not consistently good”, and “assessment and monitoring of children’s progress is not yet rigorous enough to ensure children’s learning needs are all identified and addressed.”
Manager Diane Watkinson, who has been at the nursery for nine years, says: “We’ve worked so hard since the last inspection and we’ve had a lot of support from parents.
“We lost our funding from Lancashire County Council because of the ‘inadequate’ judgment, so it was a real struggle to keep going through the winter term.
“We’ve got it back now though and we’re confident we can get a ‘good’ grading. We were just one mark off getting ‘good’ in all of the categories.”
She adds: “We were shocked about the child protection issue.
“All of the staff have been on courses, but you can’t get a full picture on just one day.”