Children are ‘at risk’, say inspectors in damning verdict on nursery owned by Leicester company

Child safety is not a priority – that’s the damning verdict from education inspectors after examining nursery schools owned by a Leicester-based company. The situation was so serious that parents were not informed of accidents involving their children.

The worrying findings were made when Ofsted inspectors carried out a review of Abbey Fields daycare center in North Yorkshire. The nursery is owned by Abbey Nurseries Limited, based in North Evington, and was given an ‘Inadequate’ rating – the lowest possible rating from inspectors after their review last month.

In a sweeping and damning verdict, Ofsted sharply criticized safety practices at the nursery. They also questioned the management of the nursery and its lack of focus on the part of those responsible.

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Earlier this month, Selby-based Abbey Fields child care center closed suddenly and unexpectedly. It happened in such short notice that parents and children were left without a crèche, while the staff themselves were also in shock, having also not been informed of the closure.

The reasons for the closure were not known, but Ofsted has now brought to light a series of problems at the nursery. Previously rated as “Good” – the second highest possible rating – in 2017 the nursery received the lowest possible rating in its last assessment, with inspectors deeming it “Inadequate” in all four key areas of its review.

At the heart of this was security, where inspectors said it was not a priority for nursery staff. The report states: “Managers fail to ensure that staff are aware of child protection issues. Parents are not informed of incidents involving their children, including when they may have suffered an injury.

They went further saying that the children were in danger. “Some staff are unaware of the signs of potential abuse and fail to identify the appropriate action needed. These weaknesses put children at potential risk of harm,” they said.

The inspectors also concluded that the children were “not at the heart of the decision-making” of the bosses and the management of the crèches. It’s a move they say exposed many weaknesses in protection – ones they said put children and staff ‘at risk’.

Meanwhile, Ofsted also highlighted several issues they are having with staff, mainly in the support they receive. Here, inspectors felt management did little to help those in the nursery.

“The management team does not provide effective support to staff. They are not proactive in promoting the professional development of staff and there is not a clear focus on developing staff skills,” they found.

Concerns were also raised about the staff’s understanding of the needs and abilities of the children within the daycare. According to them, this was also related to management.

“Older children are not challenged or stimulated, which impacts their level of engagement,” the inspectors said. “For example, the staff does not know that some children are preparing to enter school.

“The school curriculum is unclear and inconsistent, especially for babies and preschoolers. For example, staff who work with babies offer an activity with small grains of rice and uncooked pasta.

“Babies are unable to explore the texture because the edges of the pasta are sharp and they cannot use their mouths. Staff focus on math skills, like counting, which are too difficult for babies.”

Alongside the damning inspection, Ofsted confirmed it had also suspended the registration of Abbey Place Day Nursery – a linked organisation. They had also suspended an associated registration for the Phazers after-school club.

“We will review the suspension in accordance with the regulations. At this stage we cannot share any further information about the suspension,” an Ofsted spokesperson said.

Laura J. Boyer