Staff without criminal record checks left to look after children in nursery

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A nursery left young children in the care of staff who had not had the vital checks to ensure they posed no risk to them.

Ofsted has slapped Smartkiddies Childcare, based at English Martyrs Church Hall in Stead Street, Walworth with the worst possible rating of Inadequate in all areas that were assessed by an inspector who visited in June.

The manager of the nursery, which looks after children under five, was criticised for failing to ensure it was safe for kids.

Some staff were found not to recognise signs that a child might be at risk of abuse and not all workers knew how to raise concerns about colleagues. Inspectors found no evidence the children had come to harm, but the nursery’s failures put them at risk.

An Ofsted report published on October 11 said: “The manager fails to ensure that the setting is effective in keeping children safe. The provider fails to ensure staff are suitable to work with children, which means children’s safety is not prioritised.

“Staff work with children without the provider first ensuring they are suitable by completing an enhanced DBS check. Not all staff are aware of how to identify a child who might be at risk of harm or abuse. Not all staff members are aware of how to report if they have a concern about the manager or other colleagues in the setting.”

Employees were criticised for failing to ensure children behaved well and had a positive attitude towards their learning. The inspector said transition times between activities were too long, which led to children becoming bored and frustrated.

The nursery said it was “disappointed” with the Ofsted grading, and was “positively” working to improve on the failings highlighted by the education watchdog.

Smartkiddies Childcare added that it had experienced a number of challenges since opening, including a sector-wide shortage of staff, a lack of central government funding and high demand due to many nurseries in the local area closing down.

The nursery added: “We have informed all parents and staff of our recent grading. All parents continue to work in partnership with us so we can all move forward positively and work towards becoming a childcare provider of excellence serving our local community.”

Note: A previous version of this story inaccurately said the nursery was based in Asylum Rad, Peckham. That nursery, Smart Kids Day Nursery, has nothing to do with Smartkiddies in Walworth, and we apologise for the error.

Pictured top: Smartkiddies Childcare is based at English Martyrs Church Hall in Walworth (Picture: Google Street View)

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