A PRE-SCHOOL in Andover has described an Ofsted inspection as ‘masking the great work’ that its team carries out after the watchdog said the provider was ‘inadequate’.

The Scott Centre, in Mead Hedges, was previously rated ‘good’ in 2017 but was told to make improvements after a visit in June this year. A report published in August said that children’s health and safety is “at risk” as staff “do not understand the importance of risk assessment”.

The report continued: “Staff deployment at lunchtime is not effective and puts children at risk of potential accidents, such as choking.”

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It was found risk assessments outdoors are “inadequate”, with staff failing to identify potential risks. The report continued: “They allow general waste sacks and bins to be placed outside in the play area, attracting rodents and resulting in children being exposed to risks. The management team is quick to address some of the issues with the outdoor area. However, staff do not have an embedded understanding of the importance of effective risk assessment.”

In response to the report, pre-school manager Mariangela Bryant said: “We were very disappointed with the inspector’s report as we believe that we are providing high-quality education and safe care to the children at the pre-school. The report itself recognises that the quality of education and behaviour of the children are both good. 

“However, there were two very specific issues that the inspector identified as being not up to standard, both of which we addressed immediately. Because of the way Ofsted inspects, those same two issues led to the whole inspection being inadequate. Like many pre-schools and schools, we believe that the one-word summary inspection outcome masks the great work that our hard-working team are doing.”

Ofsted actioned the pre-school to ensure risk assessments are robust in order to identify all risks, including in the outside area, and are understood by all staff in order to meet the requirements of the early years’ foundation stage and Childcare Register. This had to be carried out by Wednesday, June 28.

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“There were two specific issues that the inspectors identified as needing improvement. One was about waste sacks being on the floor next to the bins in the outside area and the other was about staff deployment at lunchtime. We addressed the bin issue on the day, which was a result of extra rubbish from our holiday club and have since built a gate separating the bin store,” Ms Bryant said.

“The second issue was about staff deployment at lunchtime. I would like to provide assurances that our staff were in ratio of staff to children at all times, but we have taken on board the comments and improved our approach to lunchtime support for the children. We are confident that when we are re-inspected, we will meet all expectations.”

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The inspector said that the designated safeguarding officer understands her role and responsibilities to refer safeguarding concerns about children to the designated safeguarding lead.

“Staff know how to refer their concerns to the designated safeguarding lead and local safeguarding partners,” the inspector added.

The pre-school was praised as children were greeted by friendly staff and “have secure bonds with their key person, who they seek out throughout the day”.

The report also said that staff know the importance of good communication skills and that children with special educational needs and/or disabilities are supported by knowledgeable staff.

It was noted that the manager and staff have created a curriculum that supports the children effectively, and partnerships with parents are good.