A two-year-old wandered from his nursery, a quarter of a mile down the road, ending up in the “scary” woods by his school.
Found by a member of the public, the tot had managed to break free from Appletree Day Nursery’s Forest School, whilst his carer popped to the loo.
Appletree Day Nursery’s Forest School is an outdoor class run by the pre-school. At the time of the incident, 8 children were being cared for by 2 staff members and a volunteer.
Whilst others were on a lunch break the carer in charge popped to the loo, returning and carrying out a headcount only to discover they were one short.
One staff member stayed with the remaining children whilst the other 2 searched for the missing tot. It was 8 minutes later that he was found in the woods, located next to a busy road, by a member of the public.
The mother of the tot slammed the carer in question for “taking their eye off the ball”, stating: “The whole thing was so scary. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and I am just so glad he’s OK.”
In a social media post she added: “It makes me feel ill to think what could have happened to him and I’m so grateful he is safe and well.
“On a normal day I would sing the praises of the nursery. My son loves going there.
“But it appears someone took their eye off the ball today and in childcare you can’t afford to do that.”
Dennis Hockey, Ofsted registered person for the setting, stated in a letter that the tot was “unhurt and in no distress”, adding that an internal investigation was being carried out.
He added that there would be no more Forest School sessions until the investigation has been completed.
The nursery is run by the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and Director of Quality and Nursing, Jo Young, said: “We are extremely thankful the child was unharmed and not in any distress, and offer again our sincere apologies to the family.
“I would like to extend my gratitude to the member of public who stayed with the child until the nursery staff located them soon after the child left the group attending the Forest School.
“We are mortified that we didn’t maintain our usual high standards on this occasion and need to assure ourselves and our families lessons are learned from this incident, and all necessary changes to procedures are made, before any Forest School sessions can continue.
“We are currently undertaking an internal investigation and will be fully implementing any identified actions to improve our vigilance and practice during nursery outings before these recommence.
“We have been in contact with all of the parents whose children attend the nursery and encourage any parents with ongoing concerns to talk to our nursery managers.
A spokesperson from Ofsted has said: “We can confirm we have been made aware of an incident at this setting and are investigating the matter further.”