‘Children’s health, welfare and safety are compromised’ – Ofsted inspectors order urgent improvements as Treetops nursery in Stotfold receives ‘inadequate’ ratings across the board

Assessors gave Treetops inadequate ratings across the board on Wednesday, reporting that teaching wa

Assessors gave Treetops inadequate ratings across the board on Wednesday, reporting that teaching was weak throughout. - Credit: Archant

Toddlers at a Stotfold nursery were fed from a dirty kitchen, shown book pages upside down and left at risk from hazards such as plastic bags and wires, Ofsted inspectors have reported.

Assessors who visited Treetops in Stotfold’s High Street on October 24 gave the nursery ‘inadequate’ ratings across the board on Wednesday, reporting that teaching was weak throughout.

Among other things, they witnessed a young child in the baby room chewing on a foam paint roller.

“Children’s health, welfare and safety are compromised as a result of poor organisation, leadership and management,” the report states. “The provision is inadequate and Ofsted intends to take enforcement action.”

Treetops has received a welfare requirements notice ordering a swathe of urgent improvements by this coming Wednesday.

The inspectors gave Treetops an ‘inadequate’ rating in all four categories – leadership and management effectiveness, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare, and outcomes for children.

Hygiene was one of the issues they raised, noting a lack of cleaning routine in the kitchen where equipment was sterilised and milk was prepared.

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“It was observed that a number of dirty towels were left lying on the kitchen floor,” the inspectors noted.

“There was a stale odour and the manager stated that the towels had been left over the weekend.

“The water available for children’s water play was very dirty as it had been left from the previous week’s activities.”

Risk assessments were not effective in keeping children safe, they said, with extremely hot radiators and potential for choking among the numerous hazards – though it was noted that staff knew how to handle signs and symptoms of abuse.

It was reported that a strict routine was followed on nappy-changing, which was not interrupted when necessary to stop children with soiled nappies becoming uncomfortable or sore.

Management was judged to be ineffective, with some staff not understanding their roles.

On the subject of teaching, it was reported that staff expected an unrealistic level of concentration from toddlers and failed to sufficiently challenge older children.

“Young children are repeatedly asked to name shapes, such as hexagon and oval,” it was reported.

“They quickly become restless and are told to sit still, listen and look at the flash cards.

“Staff attempt to share books with babies. However, babies quickly lose interest as staff show them pages which are upside down.”

It was added that the nursery lacked a wide range of resources to encourage interest in literacy.

Positives in the report included the activity bag provision offered to parents to support children’s learning at home.

Ofsted also noted that staff encouraged older children to be independent, and supported those whose first language is not English by learning key words in the children’s home languages.

The report concluded: “Children are not making progress from their starting points while at the nursery.

“The teaching methods used by staff are inconsistent and often ineffective. Younger children do not engage in learning and activities are not appropriate to their age and stage of development.

“Older children do not develop their curiosity and thinking skills. Staff do not provide enough activities with appropriate challenge.

“Consequently, not all children are developing the basic skills they need for future learning at school.”

The nursery’s previous inspection by Ofsted, in January 2014, had resulted in a rating of ‘good’ – and Isabel Garvey, Treetops’ director of childcare, said additional safety measures and training had already been implemented as they moved to restore standards with the support of bosses from a nearby ‘outstanding’ nursery.

“We are very disappointed by the recent Ofsted report regarding our nursery at Stotfold and we understand parents will be concerned by what they have read,” she said.

“We can, however, reassure parents that we are taking the matter very seriously and are working closely with Ofsted to quickly rectify all points of concern.

“We are robustly addressing the actions required, having already implemented additional safety measures and extra staff training. Senior management support has also been brought in from a local ‘outstanding’ nursery to work with the team at Stotfold.

“Ofsted will carry out a further full inspection in three to six months, which we are confident will result in an improved rating. Prior to this, an Ofsted inspector will visit the nursery for an unannounced monitoring visit.

“We pride ourselves on providing outstanding quality childcare, operating 58 nurseries across the country. Of these, 95 per cent are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

“This is the only ‘inadequate’ rating we have and it does not reflect the very high standards at Treetops, or that we have witnessed at Stotfold previously.

“We are in regular contact with our parents and are committed to continue this throughout the process of driving standards to our expected levels.”

You can read the full Ofsted report at ofsted.gov.uk.

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