Sussex pre-school rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted

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A Sussex pre-school has been given the lowest rating by Ofsted as an inspector raised concerns about how well children were kept safe.

Squirrels Pre-School, in Keymer Road, Hassocks, was inspected by Victoria Cheeseman on April 29 and her findings were published on Wednesday (May 20).

One of Ms Cheesman’s concerns about the school, which cares for up to 37 two-to-five-year-olds, was the lack of adequate vetting to ensure all new staff were suitable to work with children.

She said: “This means that children’s welfare is not safeguarded.”

While acknowledging other staff knew not to leave unvetted colleagues alone with children, Ms Cheesman said the layout of the pre-school premises meant that could not always be assured.

Squirrels was last inspected in 2011 when it received a ‘good’ rating. This time, while teaching was branded “inconsistent” over all, some strengths were praised.

The report stated some staff promoted the children’s knowledge of maths by using numbers and mathematical language, while others worked on the youngsters’ communication and language skills with activities such as news and show-and-tell.

When it came to leadership, though, Ms Cheesman reported there was a “significant weakness” at Squirrels.

She added: “Although the managers are aware of the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage, and have identified areas where they need to improve practice, they fail to ensure that children are kept safe and that staff are fully supported in their roles.”

While the report recognised the team at Squirrels had built up a good relationship with parents, it noted the progress records shared with them did not always give an accurate picture of where their children were in their learning.

When approached by the Mid Sussex Times, the pre-school manager said she had “absolutely no comment”.

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