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‘Inadequate’ nursery where children ate their food off floor

An Alsager nursery has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted, inspectors saying the nursery was guilty of “multiple breaches of the legal requirements”, compromising children’s health, education and welfare.

Saying the curriculum was “not fit for purpose”, the inspectors issued an immediate welfare requirements notice to Blue Skies Private Day Nursery, of 184, Crewe Road, requiring it to:

• Bring in effective supervision, coaching and mentoring procedures to support staff and improve the quality of education;

• Introduce effective procedures for supporting children who were falling behind;

• Establish a two-way-flow of communication between parents and staff to support children’s development;

• Implement effective mealtime routines that promoted children’s good health; and

• Ensure all parents were aware of who was their child’s key person.

Nursery owner Sheridan Woodcock said: “The welfare requirements mentioned were completed before Christmas and an inspector has been here to see that.

“They are going to visit again in six months to do another inspection. We’ve got six months to improve in those areas where we had fallen behind.”

The nursery was rated as inadequate for its quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management. In its previous inspection it was rated good.

Despite the failings, the report said children at the nursery were happy, and babies safely practised their walking skills as they navigated around the furniture. Staff shared expectations for behaviour and manners and children learned to share, take turns and be respectful to each other.

Children developed “lovely bonds” with all staff and benefited from “sensitive interactions and an abundance of affection”. Children felt secure.

Staff in the baby room supported babies’ communication and language development well, and engaged babies in song time, taught them new words and supported them to communicate with signs. Babies giggled happily as they remembered the actions to familiar songs and rhymes.

However, the damning report said the nursery and its manager did not demonstrate the capacity to sustain improvements, and the quality of the nursery had “declined significantly” since the previous inspection.

The service provider had “very little oversight” of the nursery and a “weak understanding” of the legal requirements. Although they reported an allegation against a member of staff to other professionals, they did not fulfil their legal responsibility to notify Ofsted. They failed to notify Ofsted of a new manager.

The manager had “a poor understanding” of how to plan an appropriate curriculum for children, so was unable to support staff to implement it effectively.

Although children could access a range of learning opportunities, these were not focused on extending their skills and knowledge so learning was “predominantly incidental,” Ofsted found.

Children were unable to engage in focused learning for any length of time, as activities lacked challenge.

The nursery does not offer supervision, coaching and mentoring to the manager or staff to help them understand their responsibilities and improve their practice, which has had “a significant impact” on the quality of education that children receive, said the report.

Due to a lack of professional development opportunities, staff had a poor understanding of the different ways that children learned so when activities were planned, they were overly adult-led and not adapted to support all children’s learning needs.

Procedures for supporting children with special educational needs and/or disabilities and those who are at risk of falling behind were “poor”.

Staff could identify when they had concerns about a child’s development, in particular speech, but did do not receive support to implement strategies that helped children to catch up.
“The level of support children receive from the special educational needs and disabilities coordinator is not good enough,” said the report.

Parents did not receive information about children’s development, next steps or how to extend these at home, and staff did not always share their concerns about children’s development with parents, or seek information from parents about children’s development.

The manager did not ensure that appropriate arrangements were in place to support children during snack times – two-year-old children ate crushed up apple from the floor without plates or bowls. Vulnerable children were not supported well enough to help them achieve the best outcomes. Nevertheless, staff were confident to recognise the signs and symptoms of abuse, and understood their responsibility to report any concerns to the designated safeguarding lead and beyond if necessary.

All staff had completed a paediatric first-aid qualification to help them respond to accidents and emergencies.

All early years providers must meet the legal requirements in the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage. If Ofsted finds that a provider is not meeting the requirements, it can take action to ensure it puts matters right.

On 15th November, it carried out an inspection and found that Blue Skies was not meeting some of these requirements.

Following the inspection, it served a welfare requirements notice on 28th November. This is a legal notice that requires the provider to take the actions below within the timescales set out.
Ofsted will monitor the provider’s response to ensure the actions are successfully completed.

The provider will be able to give parents further information about this.
The provider is still registered with Ofsted.

Blue Skies Private Day Nursery registered in 2007. The nursery opens from Monday to Friday, for 51 weeks of the year. Sessions are from 7am until 6pm. The nursery employs nine members of childcare staff. Of these, eight hold an appropriate early years qualification at level three. The nursery provides funded early education for two-, three- and four-year-old children.

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