A Broadstairs nursery and pre-school has been downgraded from Good to Inadequate following an Ofsted inspection.
Curious Explorers nursery, which is within the grounds of Bromstone Junior School but run independently, was inspected by the education watchdog in February.
The inspector raised concerns over safeguarding, the administration of medication, the quality of teaching and ‘sparse’ resources.
However, they also noted successful care for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and supportive comments from parents.
Safeguarding and health
The report says: “Leaders do not ensure that all aspects of safeguarding are acted on, so that children receive high-quality care. For example, staff do not show enough professional curiosity when children arrive at the setting with existing injuries.
“Furthermore, children’s health is not well managed. For instance, staff do not follow administration of medication procedures appropriately.”
The inspector adds: “Leaders have not ensured there is a staff member always present who has completed paediatric first-aid training and holds a relevant certificate. This does not adequately ensure children’s safety should they have an accident or become unwell.”
Education and resources
The report also raises concerns over the quality of education and resources.
“The quality of education is poor. Adult-directed activities offer some guided learning for children. For example, they sing songs and learn about simple counting. Children learn to take turns as they swap a ‘penny’ for a ‘currant bun’. However, most activities are disrupted by younger children who are unable to engage due to their age and stage of development.
“Resources available during free play are sparse and children are not provided with consistently high-quality teaching or learning opportunities.”
However, the inspector also noted that staff do make attempts to promote a healthy lifestyle and plan activities to encourage healthy eating and good oral health.
Care for children with special needs and/or disabilities was also highlighted as being successfully targeted, saying: “(Staff) find out key information about these children and work closely with parents and external agencies involved in the care of individual children. This helps these children to make progress in their learning.”
Good support for new staff was noted but the inspector added: “Not all staff have a strong foundation of knowledge. This results in a lack of understanding on how to fully extend children’s learning.”
Parents spoke highly of the nursery saying they were given access to progress reports and invited to parent’s evenings and the report noted that “children have built strong relationships with staff and seek them for support and comfort.”
But a need for better activities was highlighted. The inspector said: “Children are not provided with activities and experiences that match their learning needs and current interests. Consequently, some older children become bored and start to display challenging behaviour.
“Some staff take action to manage children’s behaviour. However, overall, the lack of a suitably challenging curriculum means that children become disengaged and unsettled and do not make the progress they are capable of.”
The report, published earlier this week, listed five areas for improvement to be met during March.
- Gain written consent from parents/carers to authorise staff to administer medication for each individual child who requires it
- Ensure child protection procedures are consistently implemented
- Ensure that a staff member who holds a paediatric first-aid certificate is on site at all times, so that they are available to respond to emergencies quickly and paediatric first aid can be administered whenever needed
- Ensure that key persons have the knowledge they need to ensure that every child’s care is tailored to meet their individual needs
- Improve the implementation of the curriculum to ensure all children receive experiences that support and extend their learning
The nursery, which has 38 children on roll, is one of two Curious Explorer sites with the other based in Margate.
Action points in place
Nursery owner Lucia Michelle said she and staff were devastated by the grading but have already put the action plan points in place and been working with Kent County Council on that.
She said the visit had come on the back of a complaint, which she says was ‘unfounded’, and was disappointed the inspector concentrated on paperwork rather than looking at online learning and daily social media updates for parents.
She added: “Our paperwork unfortunately had a missing signature, it was mostly about paperwork apart from the resources. (The inspector) put in an action plan which is already done and we have actioned the paperwork issues and are ready for the next visit.
“We are upset because we all work really hard and generally we have resources out but in the mornings we put some on the table in the writing area but first when the children come in we have a gathering for what we will be doing in the day.
“Every day we do new and exciting activities but I felt the inspector was quite negative and spoke to a student and a volunteer instead of our qualified staff.
“Sometimes they just see a snapshot but our staff work hard, look after the children and do activities that bring forward their learning and get the children ready for school. If she had looked at our online learning and Instagram she may have seen a different side of what we do.
“Early Years isn’t the easiest or best paid job but staff do it because they love and I love it too.”
Lucia said they have now put in place all the actions requested and hope to regain their Good grading when a re-inspection takes place in the next four to six months.
The nursery employs six staff, five of whom hold relevant early years qualifications at level 3 or above. The manager has achieved early years professional status.