CHILDREN’S welfare is compromised at a Rayleigh nursery where staff have a weak knowledge of safeguarding and fail to consistently follow good hygiene procedures, according to Ofsted.
Inspectors visited Rascals Childcare, on Talbot Avenue, Rayleigh, in February and graded it inadequate.
Sharing its findings, Ofsted stated that staff “do not always encourage children to wash their hands after playing outside and before meals” and “do not clean the children's changing mat between nappy changes”, while failing to promote health and wellbeing and increasing the risk of cross-contamination.
Ofsted also found that leaders at the nursery, which has challenged the inspectors’ findings, “do not have a clear understanding of safeguarding procedures”.
It added: “They are not aware of the role of the local authority designated officer and local reporting procedures.
“[Staff] are unsure of what to do if there was an allegation made against a member of staff or the leadership team.”
Some measures are in place, with staff carrying out daily risk assessments to reduce risks to children's safety, and leaders carrying out appropriate suitability checks to ensure children continue to be cared for by suitable people.
The damning report also highlighted that the nursery fails to consistently meet the learning needs of its children, particularly those with special educational needs or disabilities, and the inspector observed “some children becoming anxious and tearful” due to a lack of warning before changes in routine.
Despite the issues, Ofsted praised the nursery, which opened in 2005 and was rated good at its last inspection in 2017, for supporting children’s language development.
“Young children excitedly sing along and copy the actions, and staff encourage children to choose what songs they want to sing,” the inspector said.
The staff were also praised for encouraging the children to be independent, encouraging them to select their own fruit at snack time and pour their own drinks.
Parents, who receive regular updates of what their children have been doing, told inspectors that their children are “happy and have grown in confidence since attending”.
A spokesperson for Rascals Childcare said: “The report is not a true reflection of our practice or values.
“We feel this is a further example of Ofsted’s current practice methods which have serious consequences on staff mental health.”
Ofsted has given the nursery until May 1 to fix the issues relating to safeguarding and hygiene, and until June 5 to develop a curriculum which enables all its children to make good progress.