The owner of a nursery school has criticised the consistency of Ofsted inspections.
The Butterfly House Day Nursery, in Norfolk Road, was inspected on March 23 and saw its rating fall from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’.
While the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, as well as the outcomes for children were rated ‘good’, the effectiveness of the leadership and management, and the personal development, behaviour and welfare of the children was rated ‘inadequate’.
Now owner Amanda Barnard-Grove has asked how one six-hour inspection could give Ofsted a complete picture of a school.
Mrs Barnard-Grove said she worked with a “very dedicated and enthusiastic team, some of whom have been at the same setting for 10 years or more” and that, together, they strived to “provide a setting that enables children to reach their full potential”.
The areas which are covered by Ofsted include checking documents on staff and children, watching children in each age band within the nursery and during outside play, speaking to parents and staff and tracking children to ensure they were being monitored and making progress.
Questioning how a judgement could be made with so much to cover, Mrs Barnard-Grove added: “Consider too the fact that, although they have a handbook, it is open to their own interpretation and they decide the areas they will be focusing on as they do not have the time to look at everything properly.
“Therefore no two inspectors are consistent and it can feel like the luck of the draw as to which inspector you might get and what they want to look at.
“Is this really a fair way to judge our early years settings when we are constantly being told how important this area is for our developing children, ensuring that they have the best start in their lifelong learning journey?”
When Ofsted’s last report was published, the inspector said Mrs Barnard-Grove “lacks understanding of her responsibilities to carry out rigorous checks on staff’s suitability”. This was seen to compromise “children’s safety and welfare” and she was given until April 11 to ensure ongoing checks were carried out.
Mrs Barnard-Grove said the inspector was due to return on that date but had made no contact. She added the lack of urgency to do so “does make one wonder just how concerned she really was about our safeguarding procedures”.
An Ofsted spokesman said: “All provisions judged as inadequate will be re-inspected within six months.”
Another frustration for Mrs Barnard-Grove involved the provision of information to each child’s new primary school. She said she had worked to ensure the information given to teachers “has value, ensuring a smooth transition into school”
She added: “This includes an informed picture of the child’s characteristics of learning, their achievements to date within the Early Years Foundation Stage.
“Unfortunately there are still some teachers who do not look at these documents and prefer to make their own assessment which leads to frustration for the child and parent.”
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