‘Inadequate’ nursery ‘left children in dark rooms with no access to fresh water’

A damning report has branded a children’s nursery as ‘inadequate’ after babies were “left alone in a dark room” and children “were not given access to fresh water”.

The nursery has been given Ofsted’s worst possible rating, citing problems with hygiene, staff morale, tearful and uncertain children and a provider who has “failed to meet numerous legal requirements”.

Oftsted made an unannounced inspection of Little Stars Day Nursery in Shoeburyness, Essex, at the beginning of December 2021 – its first since registering in October 2020 – and following its rating made a list of demands to be enforced by the venue, Essex Live reports.

The inspector found that staff were failing to manage children’s “boisterous” behaviour, which puts them and others at risk.

The report, from inspector Sue Mann, said: “For example, older children frequently run about the pre-school room. They are bored and throw toys. Younger children have very limited activities to choose from, which means they also become bored.

“They push each other over and stand on resources, such as a wooden dolls’ house. Children, particularly in the toddler room, do not have sufficient, good quality resources to excite and motivate them to play.”

On the issue of children being left unsupervised and their access to fresh water, Inspector Mann said: “Younger children and babies who become tired are taken upstairs to the baby room sleep area.

“The provider fails to ensure that staff are effectively deployed to supervise sleeping children. Instead, babies and younger children are left alone upstairs in a darkened room, out of sight and hearing of staff. This poses a significant risk to children’s safety.

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“Younger children do not have access to fresh drinking water. Their bottles are kept up on a high surface out of reach and not offered during the session.”

The inspector also said that the nursery’s educational program is “badly planned and mundane” with children with special needs not supported and not making progress.

At the time of the inspection, there were 27 children registered at the nursery.

The report went on to detail a poor working environment for staff, saying there was a high turnover due to the conditions.

Inspector Mann said: “Staff morale is low and, as a result, staff turnover is extremely high. Staff do not know the children very well in order to support them appropriately. The keyperson system is not well embedded to offer a settled relationship for children .

“This leaves children feeling uncertain and tearful. Staffing arrangements do not meet the needs of all children. For example, staff overlook the quieter children, as they have to manage the behavior of the louder, more challenging children.

“The provider has not provided staff with effective supervision to ensure that they receive support, coaching and training.

“Staff do not have time to discuss any concerns they may have about their key children or aspects of their practice to develop further.

“Furthermore, the provider speaks to staff abruptly in front of children and visitors. Consequently, staff are unmotivated and unhappy.”

Inspector Mann went on to say that provider, who is also the manager of the nursery, does not have a “robust” knowledge of the signs and symptoms of whether a child is at risk of harm, such as dangers posed through radicalization or drugs.

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Ofsted took enforcement action on Little Stars Day Nursery, issuing a Welfare Requirements Notice listing 19 tasks for the provider to complete by December 21, 2021.

Essex Live has contacted the nursery for comment on whether those improvements have been made.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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