Wigan borough nursery slammed for ‘putting children at risk of significant harm’ due to referencing failures

A newly opened nursery has been slammed by Ofsted for putting children at “significant risk of harm” due to failures in referencing staff members.
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Best Friends Private Day Nursery and Pre-school in Tyldesley had ‘not followed procedures’ when giving out references, possibly leading to unsuitable staff being employed at other sites.

“Leaders have failed to share critical information to help inform a recruitment decision,” the Ofsted report said.

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“This means that potentially unsuitable staff are able to work at other settings which places children at risk of significant harm.”

Best Friends Private Day Nursery and Pre-school in TyldesleyBest Friends Private Day Nursery and Pre-school in Tyldesley
Best Friends Private Day Nursery and Pre-school in Tyldesley

The nursery, which opened in 2021 on the new retail park on Mosley Common Road, was rated "inadequate” by Ofsted.

The nursery “failed to follow their obligations as a registered provider to share pertinent information with other early years providers concerning the suitability of staff”, according to Ofsted. It means that children’s safety at other settings cannot be fully briefed as a result could delay in responding to a potential issue.

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This was a matter of frustration for the nursery who believe this one failure has “undone their hard work”. They said they understand why they have been given this rating and have vowed to change.

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A spokesman for Best Friends said: “Whilst the Ofsted report is full of praise for the amazing team we have at Best Friends and notes that children attending are ‘safe and secure’ and that ‘staff have warm, happy relationships with children’, it makes clear there is one area where we had fallen short of our high standards and that alone has had a huge impact on the outcome of their report. This pertains directly to an issue at our Nursery Support Centre where a request for a background reference was not responded to in a timely manner.

“Despite this being a one-off occurrence, Ofsted understandably have a no-tolerance policy on such breaches of their guidelines and as result the setting has been issued with an inadequate rating. It is hugely frustrating to see that an administrative error has undone the huge amount of work the whole team at Best Friends have done to make the nursery one of the most popular and well-respected nurseries in the area.

“Our Nursery Support Centre has carried out a full investigation surrounding this issue and the systems and procedures linked to this have been amended to ensure the organisation is able to consistently meet the strict requirements of Ofsted. We look forward to welcoming Ofsted back to the nursery when we are certain the outcome of their inspection will truly reflect the high quality childcare delivered by the nursery and its team.”

The report also questioned the children exploring and playing with dummies in their mouths – which could “hinder the development of speech”. The inspector believes staff need support to develop their understanding of children’s speech development and confidence to support quieter, less confident children “so that they can fully benefit from all interactions and experiences”.

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Despite these setbacks, parents interviewed by Ofsted describe the setting as “amazing” and detailed how their children’s confidence and social skills have come on. Additionally, the safeguarding was well understood by staff who the report highlights as being knowledgeable on warning signs of abuse and risk.

“Staff have warm, happy relationships with children and have high expectations of what children can achieve,” the report said. “They take time to find out about each child’s likes and dislikes and provide activities that reflect children’s interests.

“This helps to ensure that children are engaged and motivated in their learning. Staff plan activities that support children to make good progress and help them to develop the skills needed for the future.”

Staff were also commended by inspectors for their “skilful questioning, repetition and descriptive language to help children develop their vocabulary skills”. Ofsted went on to say how the children, both with disabilities or additional needs, are well supported in the nursery and how specialised staff work with outside professionals to ensure they get the support they need.