An NHS run nursery in Doncaster is set to close down, months after it was hammered by Ofsted for failing to protect child safety.
Parents arriving at The Warren nursery, at Woodfield Park on Tuesday were told by devastated staff of the planned closure.
One mum, who asked not to be named, said: “We only found out about it when we got to the nursery as normal. Apparently the staff had only been told the night before.
“Quite a few of the staff were in tears, but it was left to them to tell us.
“The children will not understand what is happening, but they will understand how upset people are.
“We’ve been told it will close at the end of November, to give us time to find a new nursery. There’s been no consultation with parents. I would have paid more if something could be done.”
She said bosses said they had struggled to find staff, but she felt jobs should have been advertised more widely.
One member of staff, who asked not to be named, said most of the staff were on casual contracts, and they had offered to take pay cuts to try to find a solution.
She said she thought the nursery had been badly advised on how it should run.
She said: “We’re devastated – absolutely gutted. It was a complete shock.
“We feel let down by everyone.”
Another parent, Chris Dunne, said on Facebook: “We're parents of a child that goes there and are absolutely fuming that the trust has decided to close it after only six months after the inadequate Ofsted rating. No reflection of the staff at all, down to ‘resources’.”
Another resident, Tom Davis, said it left 200 children without a nursery. He said: “Most local nurseries are all full to capacity and can’t accommodate this amount of children.”
He added over 40 members of staff faced redundancy.
The nursery was slated by Ofsted in May, when it was rated inadequate. Four years previously it had been rated outstanding.
The Ofsted report said: “The provider does not take all reasonable steps to prevent children being exposed to risks. The ineffective organisation of space and staff in the Woodfield Park building compromises children's safety and well-being.”
It also said new staff new staff did not receive their induction in a timely manner to help them understand the health and safety arrangements, and some did not have a good understanding of wider child protection issues, compromising children's safety.
It also stated the quality of teaching was not good enough to improve outcomes for all children, that the provider did not work well in partnership with all parents to promote the learning and development of children, and did not not support staff to provide activities that targeted children's interests and individual learning needs.
The report stated:” Safeguarding is ineffective. Despite meeting the requirements for staff ratios, the provider does not deploy staff effectively in the Woodfield Park building to ensure they supervise children well and keep them safe.
“There are times when staff do not adequately supervise children, or risk assess the environment to make sure that it is suitable for the youngest children. As a result, they do not always notice when children are at risk. The inspector observed a toddler walking unsteadily up a ramp holding a large metal spoon to their mouth, unnoticed by staff.”
Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust runs the nursery.
It said staff had been working on an improvement plan to make changes required by Ofsted but it still faced challenges, particularly in relation to staffing with suitably qualified teaching staff.
The Board of Directors decided to close the nursery, coming into effect on November 23, because the nursery was unable to provide the right educational environment for the children due to the difficulties in maintaining staffing numbers..
RDaSH managers are working with Doncaster Council to ensure parents are supported – advising on alternative childcare provision and vacancies at other Doncaster nurseries.
No nursery fees will be charged until the nursery closes and RDaSH will be working with the council to ensure any financial support that any parents were receiving to fund nursery places is still available to them. Anyone who has paid their nursery fees in advance will be reimbursed..
Kathryn Singh, chief executive of RDaSH, said: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to parents and carers by the forthcoming closure of our Warren Nursery and Hutch Play Scheme.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision for the board of directors to make and was made in the best interests of the children who use the service. We cannot continue to run the nursery without enough permanent staff and at the moment we are currently relying heavily on temporary bank staff. Sadly, the recent rating of inadequate by Ofsted has not helped us to recruit permanent staff.
“We are allowing eight weeks before we close the nursery and play scheme to give adequate time for parents and carers to source alternative childcare and we are working with Doncaster Council to make parents aware of other nurseries in Doncaster with vacancies.
““We are also offering support to all staff at the nursery to look for suitable alternative employment within RDaSH.”