Owner vows 'I will not fail the families' after Ofsted inspection rates Padiham nursery 'inadequate'
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Victoria's Nursery in Burnley Road was inspected on September 20th, and inspectors took enforcement action by issuing a welfare requirements' notice, forcing it to close. A deadline of October 8th was set for the improvements required to be made.
It has since re-opened after the team worked through the closure to make the improvements.
And the owner, Miss Kerry Driver, has vowed to get the nursery back up to a 'good' rating standard which was issued to the nursery by Ofsted in 2019.
Miss Driver said: " I am back running the setting full-time. I am working closely with Ofsted and they are happy with my work and how I am pulling the setting back up to registration standards, and aiming higher than the good we once were.
"This was obtained under myself and a wonderful manager who no longer works here. But as I am the nominated individual it all rests on me.
"I will not fail the families and I will get us back to where we were before covid. I can only work towards the future of the setting and make it good, as it once was."
Inspectors said that 'weak leadership and an unacceptable standard of care' had resulted in the setting failing to provide children with a good level of education.
In the report inspector Donna Birch said: " There are many identified breaches to requirements.
"Some of these have been raised with the provider before. These failings place children at significant risk of harm and severely impacts on their health, safety, well-being and their learning and development."
The report stated that expectations for what children can achieve was not high enough as there was not sufficient staff present to keep children safe and to ensure their care and learning needs were met. The key person system was described as 'weak' and not supportive of the emotional well being of all children.
Inspectors said that children new to the setting were 'very upset and unsettled' and staff did not know enough about them to help settle them in and make them feel comfortable and reassured. They said that children who have attended the setting for longer 'wander around, lack concentration, and are not engaged in meaningful learning opportunities.' which had a negative impact on their behaviour.
Ms Birch added: " Staff fail to engage with children appropriately to support their learning and help them understand instructions. This means children become easily frustrated.
"Staff do not help children understand their own and other's feelings but place too much emphasis on the need for children to apologise, rather than helping children understand the consequences of their actions.
"This does not help children develop an awareness of unacceptable behaviour."
The leadership and management of the nursery was rated as inadequate and the report said that the owner, who was also the manager, did not 'have sufficient understanding of how to meet the learning and development or the safeguarding and welfare requirements of the early years foundation stage.'
The report said that as a result of there being insufficient staff on the premises to meet the needs of the children the environment is 'disorganised, chaotic and noisy, ' significant weaknesses which do not support children's learning or their emotional well-being.
Inspectors observed that while more established children do demonstrate they feel secure, as they happily enter the setting, the distinct lack of interaction from staff means they become boisterous.
The report pointed out that during the inspection a baby was left in a car seat for a prolonged period because staff were busy with other tasks.
The report criticised the provider and staff for not taking all necessary steps to minimise risks to children, both indoors and outside, which placed them at 'extreme risk of harm.'
Inspectors found trailing wires from plugged in appliances in the pre-school room where children play and a large fridge-freezer that children can easily access and the baby room safety gate was not secure. And despite carrying out a risk assessment in the garden, staff failed to notice or act to remove visible hazards, such as an unravelled hosepipe, mouldy toys and resources, and plastic wrappers.
Staff and visitors' safety was also found to be compromised as the office, which is also the route to the staff toilet, was cluttered with equipment and resources. Ofsted also raised issues of safety and hygiene in the children's bathroom.
The report also pointed out that the indoor fire exit was obstructed with children's bags, car seats and a pushchair.
The outdoor fire escape exit and staircase was also said to be obstructed.
Ms Birch said: " This does not allow for the safe evacuation of children and staff in the event of an emergency.
"Furthermore, the exit gate is locked with no accessible key. These identified hazards place children and staff at significant risk of harm in the event of an emergency."
Ofsted reported that nursery did not ensure children's good health and added there were 'extremely concerning risks,' including the ripped floor in one of the rooms placed children at 'immediate risk of harm.'
Inspectors said children were observed playing on the unhygienic damaged floor and pots used to house children's belongings, including cups and dummies, were not kept clean. The inspector found that a child's dummy was placed next to a dirty sponge.
The report also said these uncovered items were exposed to flies present in the room, babies' high chairs were not thoroughly cleaned by staff after use and other items, such as the water dispenser, were not kept in good clean condition and not fit for use by the children.
During the inspection, the kitchen bin was overflowing with food waste from the previous day. As a result, it produced an unpleasant odour and there were flies in the food preparation area.
Inspector Birch said: "The kitchen was unhygienic and not kept in a condition suitable for the safe preparation of children's meals.
"Staff allow children to have orange juice in bottles, which does not promote their oral health. Staff fail to notice that there are no cups by the water dispenser. This means older children cannot help themselves to fresh drinking water as is required. They must wait for staff to provide them with a drink."
Ofsted reported that the lack of experienced and qualified staff 'massively affects' the smooth running of the setting and does not support children's emotional well-being.
The report stated that when staff become aware that children maybe infectious and are feeling unwell, the 'acute lack of staff' means they are not able to help and support children at this time.
Inspectors also said that staff did not take steps to ensure that these children do not pose a risk of cross infection to others and children were left unattended even though they were extremely upset.
The provider was criticised for failing to ensure there is a suitable person to take on the role of deputy while the current deputy manager is on leave. As the provider takes and collects older children from school this means there are periods when the setting is left with no manager or deputy on site.
Ms Birch said: "This, in turn, leads to a severe lack of communication among the team. For example, children who are not expected that day are allowed in by staff.
"This means the minimum qualification and ratio requirements are not maintained. This significantly impacts on the level of care children receive."
Inspectors said that children were not provided with a curriculum which meets their learning needs. Activities are not purposefully planned and are not implemented well enough to build on what children already know and can do.
The focus on children's communication and language development was described as 'insufficient'.
Staff do not model words and do not provide children with the correct vocabulary. Inspectors also observed that often, staff did not engage children in conversations and some staff did not interact with children, to extend their speaking skills and vocabulary. As a result, children's speaking is not developing as well as it could.
Ofsted found that the nursery did not ensure that new staff, particularly apprentices, undergo an effective induction to help them understand the responsibilities of their role. Staff are not provided with regular coaching or supervision to help them improve their practice. For example, at times, staff use inappropriate language when speaking to children.
Ms Birch said: "This is highly unprofessional and does not help children to build on their existing speaking skills.
"In addition, these phrases are not challenged by the provider to help staff to rectify their practice.
"The provider does not keep her own professional development up to date. Her own teaching is weak and she is not able to model effective practice to staff. This means teaching across the setting is inadequate."
Inspectors praised the nursery for taking steps to keep in contact with children and their families during the covid pandemic when parents did not enter the setting.
Learning pack activities were sent out for children to complete at home, to help support their continued development and inspectors observed that children enjoyed spending time in the sensory room and youngsters could practise their physical skills as they scale and climb in the safety of the soft-play area.
This room also gives those children that need it, the space to relax and spend some quiet and calming time with the staff.
Safeguarding arrangements at the nursery were not effective, Ofsted reported and the provider, who is the designated safeguarding lead, does not have a secure understanding of the procedures to follow should an allegation be made about a member of staff.
Ms Birch said: "Staff do not keep accurate records of children's hours of attendance. This means they are unable to account for all children in the event of an emergency. The provider does not demonstrate that she has the capacity to maintain safe, clean, and hygienic standards across the setting.
"This is because some of the identified breaches have been raised before. The provider has not taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all staff are suitable to be in regular contact with children. Although the provider understands the need to carry out safe recruitment checks, including obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Service check for all staff, this has not been done in a timely way.
"Furthermore, she has not undertaken other checks to ensure staff are suitable, such as obtaining references and checking identification. As a result, the suitability of staff cannot be verified, which compromises children's safety and well-being.
"This places children at significant risk of harm."
Staff were said to have a secure understanding of safeguarding and know what action to take should they have concerns about a child or a colleague and all staff hold a valid paediatric first-aid qualification.