A Tameside nursery’s outdoor play area is so dangerous that the welfare and safety of the tots is at ‘significant’ risk, according to Ofsted after an inspection last month.
Mini Marvels Club Ltd on Cemetery Road, Denton, has been give an overall rating of ‘Inadequate’ – the lowest possible score – by the education watchdog.
Inspector Julie Kelly found that while kids are ‘happy and confident’ to be independent and explore their environment, that environment is ‘unsafe’.
“Children are happy and well settled in the nursery. They confidently explore the environment and make independent choices about what they want to do,” she said.
“However the large outdoor play equipment, such as the climbing frame, sandpit, steps and fences, is unsafe, which has a significant impact on children’s safety and welfare.”
The nursery, which cares for kids between three and four years old, are more than aware of the potential dangers as teachers carry out daily checks.
Despite the hazards being identified, management have failed to take appropriate or effective action to resolve them, ‘compromising children’s safety’.
Ms Kelly said: “Staff complete daily checks of the environment and identify potential hazards. Arrangements for safeguarding are ineffective.
“This is because the provider does not take appropriate steps to minimise the risks identified, which compromises children’s safety.”
The kids’ care provider’s inability to deal with the potential risks and hazards pointed out to them by staff may be due to a poor self-evaluation system.
The inspector found that the nursery failed to properly identify their weaknesses, making it impossible to better the safety and welfare of the children.
“The provider completes a self-evaluation form which provides details about nursery practice,” she said.
“However it does not clearly identify the weaknesses of the nursery so that actions can be put in place to secure continuous improvement.”
Ofsted’s damning discoveries during the January 11 inspection have seen Mini Marvels Ltd slip even further below standard, dropping from a ‘Requires Improvement’ rating when last review on February 9 last year.
This year they received the lowest score possible for the ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ of the tots and the ‘effectiveness of the leadership and management’ of the provider.
However there is hope yet as the nursery also received a ‘Good’ score in two categories – ‘Quality of teaching, learning and assessment’ and ‘Outcomes for children’.
The teachers it seems are the only saving grace at this pre-school, described in the report as ‘caring and well-qualified’, serving as ‘good role models’ to the kids.
Ms Kelly said: “Staff have a good knowledge of child development and the needs of the children they care for.
“They track individual children’s progress so that they can quickly identify any gaps in their learning and seek appropriate support, if necessary.
“Staff are good role models and provide clear and consistent boundaries to teach children right from wrong.
“They are sensitive and caring and ensure that children’s physical and emotional needs are consistently met to promote their self-esteem and well-being.”
Teachers at the Tameside school were also praised for their ‘skilled’ support of kids with disabilities or suffering from speech and language difficulties.
“Disabled children and those with special educational needs make good progress due to the positive individual support and strong links with outside agencies, which ensure that their learning needs are effectively met,” Ms Kelly said.
“Staff are particularly skilled at promoting children’s communication and language development.
“They talk to children all the time and introduce new words, such as squeeze, astronaut, earth and Milky Way, to extend their vocabulary.
“In addition, staff’s skilful use of sign language helps children who have speech and language difficulties to further develop their understanding and speaking skills.
“Children take part in daily phonic sessions and learn to recognise and write their name. This has a significantly positive impact on their literacy skills, which prepares them well for school.”
But the inspector explained that staff, though skilled, are let down by the monitoring arrangement as there is no opportunity provided for them to learn from one another.
She said: “The provider has introduced arrangements for monitoring the quality of teaching and staff performance. She mentors and supports staff and their practice is regularly observed.
“However staff have few opportunities to learn from each other and share their expertise, knowledge and skills.”
While the nursery and the children clearly benefit from the talented teachers working there, Mini Marvels Ltd is being severely let down by the dangerous environment.
Following the inspection, Ofsted informed the school they must ‘take all reasonable steps to remove, minimise and manage risks and hazards to protect children’s safety and welfare, particularly the risks associated with the outdoor play area and equipment’ by February 1.
They were also told they must make their self-evaluation system more focussed and create an environment where staff can learn from each other.
MM contacted Mini Marvels to find out whether these steps have been taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the kids in their care but they have not yet responded.
NOTE: Main photo is not the school in question. Image courtesy of Alejandro Hernandez, with thanks.