‘Inadequate’ Hitchin childcare service shut down by Ofsted

Bluebells Childminders, Hitchin was suspended yesterday following an Ofsted inspection. Picture: Goo

Bluebells Childminders, Hitchin was suspended yesterday following an Ofsted inspection. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin childcare service was suspended by Ofsted with immediate effect following an inspection yesterday.

Bluebells Childminders, which offered services for toddlers, babies and children up to 12 years old at a premises in Wilbury Way, announced the news to parents and guardians yesterday evening.

In a post on Famly, a nursery management app, they said: "Further to our inspection today Ofsted has suspended our registration for minimum of 6 weeks.

"Please contact us on Famly or email if you would like any further information. We apologise for the impact this is going to cause."

Following an inspection on March 22, Ofsted found the provision to be 'inadequate'.

The inspectors pointed to "weak and disorganised leadership" and "ineffective supervision."

They also said: "The provider has failed to take prompt action to ensure all staff are suitable to work with children. This compromises children's safety."

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The one strength that was in the report was: "Arrangements to support the care and learning for babies are good. Staff in the baby rooms know the young children well. They sensitively support them to settle in. Consequently, babies explore the resources with confidence."

A Welfare Requirements Notice was issued and Bluebells was given the following action plan:

"Obtain an enhanced disclosure and barring service (DBS) check for all staff working directly with children in a timely manner.

"Ensure people whose suitability has not been checked do not have unsupervised contact with children being cared for.

"Implement effective strategies to support children with Special Education Needs and/or disabilities (SEND), so that they make progress in their learning."

"Ensure staff are supported to manage children's behaviour in an appropriate way.

"Implement effective supervision arrangements and coaching for staff to enable them to fulfil their roles and provide good quality teaching."

Jenny Gainsford, whose two children attended Bluebells before she pulled them out last month, described management there as "an absolute disgrace."

She said her two daughters would come home "hungry and dirty and hated going."

The Comet contacted Bluebells, but they declined to comment.

To see the full Ofsted report, go to https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/49/RP540770.