Lack of risk assessment as Ofsted finds Basildon pre-school ‘inadequate’

Unidentified berries, slippery surfaces and bin liners full of rubbish posed a “safety risk” to children at a Basildon pre-school, an education watchdog has said.

Ofsted said staff at More Grace pre-school and after school club did not risk assess areas used by children effectively after an inspection in December 2021, giving it a rating of inadequate.

More Grace pre-school, which is situated in Crest Avenue, was approached for comment but did not respond in time for publication.

According to an inspection report, children were nonetheless enthusiastic and excited about playing outdoors.

Parents told Ofsted their children looked forward to going to pre-school and that they were happy with the care they received.

But the report also said there were “significant weaknesses in leadership and management”.

A section read: “Staff do not risk assess the areas used by children effectively.

“For example, the ground and table surfaces in the outside area are dirty and covered in berries from a large tree. When questioned, staff do not know what these berries are or what the potential harm to children could be.

“In addition, the sloped access to the outside area is extremely slippery due to rotting leaves and berries that have not been cleared.

“Bin liners filled with rubbish are stored where children play, and staff are unaware of the contents and potential hazards these present.

“Children’s health, safety and ongoing well-being, as they play and learn in this environment, is not given the priority it deserves.”

Learning needs at the pre-school were also not being met, the report continues.

For example, according to the report, nappy-changing happens at specific, scheduled times, rather than based on the needs of individual children.

Children whose first language is not English are not effectively supported, the report says.

Additionally, some parents have not been informed who their child’s “key person” is, the staff member responsible for understanding a child’s specific needs and providing emotional and well-being support.

According to the report, this is in part due to recent staff changes.

The provider also did not ensure staff received regular feedback to address any weaknesses, the report says.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter