Essex nursery closed for investigation

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Abacus Day Nursery in Billericay has been temporarily shut while detectives carry out an inquiry.

The action has been taken following concerns about the welfare of children in its care. A 49-year-old woman has been arrested and released on bail until 31 March, while the investigation happens.

The setting has been open for 19 years and, at the time it was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted in 2012, cared for over 60 children and employed 11 staff members.

As yet, specific details surrounding the suspension are unclear, but a police spokesman said, “The safeguarding and wellbeing of the children is a priority for all of the agencies involved and Essex Police will continue to make enquiries with parents and other people who have an association with the nursery.”

Ofsted has not commented on the matter, but would only suspend a childcare provider’s registration if it felt that any of the children attending may be at risk of harm, according to its website.

Essex Police detectives are working with social services to contact parents with children who attend the nursery. Anyone with information that may assist the investigation is being urged to contact the police’s public protection unit on 01245 282103 or via 101.

Does this case highlight that Ofsted inspections can only go so far? Is there more that could be done by Ofsted? Leave your thoughts below.

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7 thoughts on “Essex nursery closed for investigation

  • March 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm
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    In all fairness, I don’t think the article meant there were 60 children present everyday, more likely 60 children were on the books.

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  • February 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm
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    What a terrible waste of talent and enthusiasm Ellen. It always saddens me to read of such experiences and assure you that not all child care environments are as you have found. However, I do know that your experience is apparent in the industry. Unfortunately as you rightly infer, as long as Ofsted inspectors have really no insight into the running of a nursery (the vast majority of them in my experience do not) and as long as such settings tick ‘their’ boxes on the day, to ‘satisfy’ the inspection process, for which this nursery in Essex is possibly an example, such settings will continue to exist.

    Regarding the article above, the one thing that struck me was how did this nursery manage to run a 60 place setting with just 11 members of staff? Presumably this nursery caters for all ages – if so, this defies belief!

    I have often thought that Early Years Professionals should be used to assess the effectiveness of providers in providing an early years service to parents, instead of Ofsted Inspectors who are recruited for their knowledge of carrying out Statutory obligations over and above any experience they may have in the child care sector. Yes, there are a few nursery proprietors among their ranks, but I know from personal experience of applying for a post as an Early Years Inspector that Ofsted’s priorities for inspectors during the recruitment process are that they are recruited with the primary emphasis of transforming them into ‘enforcement officers’. Ticking boxes and practical ignorance go hand in hand in my opinion and I am never surprised by the fact that many inspectors understand little about the real world of providing a quality service in an early years setting.

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  • February 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm
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    I think that everyone who works in childcare has an individual responsibility to protect children in their care and to report bad practice. Your concerns can be reported to Ofsted anonymously if you feel you cannot speak out openly, walking away does not safeguard the children and allows the bad practice to continue.

    A comment about Abacus Nursery in Essex, why was only 11 staff caring for over 60 children!

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  • February 24, 2014 at 8:55 pm
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    The difficulty with inspections is that they are only as good as the settings performance on that specific day. Day nurseries do not get advance notice, I have two settings both recently inspected with good outcomes. Do I sit back presuming that Ofsted wont come around again for a good few years, no I keep pushing forward making improvements in all areas and striving to prove that children are achieving great outcomes through attending a good childare setting. In my experience staff have no problems whistle blowing on another staff member if they are unhappy with anything they have seen or heard but then I guess thats down to management being approachable and staff knowing they will be listended to, taken seriously and actions taken if needed.

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  • February 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm
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    So sorry to hear that Ellen had such a bad time. In my 17 years as an owner of pre-schools, nursery and out of school clubs we have always prided ourselves on trying to be the best that we can be – whether OFsted is due to visit or not.
    Everyone is responsible so it is important to whistle blow. I instill this into my staff, because everyone is culpable. Ofsted Inspectors aren’t stupid, they can see when things are being done “for effect” and if it’s different for the children from the norm, but a lot can happen in 18 months.
    If you ever want to move to Dorset Ellen I have a couple of settings where ethical, hard working responsible staff are valued and encouraged. If you or your sister didn’t like what you saw – blow the lid because the good settings have nothing to hide.

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  • February 24, 2014 at 3:11 pm
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    Having worked in two settings that Osted rated outstanding has left me feeling that I can’t trust their inspections! Everybody is aware when this is due and on their best behaviour doing everything to ‘tick the boxes’. As soon as OSTED go everything returns to it pre inspection state. So disgusted I have left child are altogether despite the fact I loved and wished I had been more fully able to use the Early Years Professional Status.qualification I sacrificed a lot of things for. My sister in law has also resigned from a school in Bristol because she can no longer bear the malpractice that goes on. One dares not whistle blow because, unless something actually happens to a child, nobody listens and the establishment protects itself by being defensive and putting the person who challenges their status quo in the wrong. I witnessed this and took care that it didn’t happen to me.

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    • February 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm
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      I am afraid OFSTED is focused on paperwork rather than anything else.As long as boxes are ticked everything is fine.I dont know what is the reason of carrying investigation and closure but when the child is already hurt I think it is much too late.What I have found out recently is …..most of OFSTED inspectors are failed managers and headteachers.GOD have mercy…!!!!!!!!! How people who failed complying with OFSTED regulations can come and judge others…../????

      Reply

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