February 12, 2022 7.31 pm

Ofsted apologises as ‘error report’ accuses Lincoln playgroup of risking kids’ safety

Education inspector has since retracted report

Ofsted has been left red-faced after publishing a report that rated a Lincoln village playgroup ‘inadequate’ following an error in its inspection process.

Thorpe on the Hill Playgroup, based in the grounds of St Michael’s Primary School, had been accused of having “several breaches to legal requirements that significantly compromise the safety and welfare of children”.

Inspectors visited the playgroup on January 13, then published a report on the Ofsted website on Thursday, February 10, before swiftly taking it down the following day.

The report, seen by The Lincolnite before it was retracted by Ofsted, had stated: “Children’s welfare and safety are not assured. The nominated person and committee have not provided necessary information to Ofsted about themselves to enable suitability checks can be completed.

“Additionally, the nominated person has not notified Ofsted of a change of manager.

“Those who have oversight and governance of the playgroup do not have an in-depth understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

“Furthermore, essential records are not available to view at inspection, such as paediatric first-aid certificates. Staff suitability checks do not contain all the required information.”

The playgroup, which had been labelled ‘outstanding’ at its previous inspection in March 2015, claims the ‘inadequate’ rating was due to missing paperwork from trustees who are not directly linked to its day-to-day running.

And it says the findings were published in breach of normal Ofsted practice, before staff at the playgroup had seen the report and been given a chance to address its “inaccuracies”.

An Ofsted spokesperson told The Lincolnite: “We identified an error in our post inspection process for this setting’s report. We have spoken to the provider about this.

“As a result, we have temporarily removed the report from our website to enable us to address this. The report will be re-published in due course.”

Stacey Casserley, from Thorpe on the Hill Playgroup, said: “Unfortunately, there was an issue with some of the paperwork which directly relates to the committee rather than to the staff or the playgroup setting itself.

“Because of the way that Ofsted works, this paperwork technicality has meant that [the] playgroup has received an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating.

“We want to reassure parents that we have immediately rectified the paperwork error that has resulted in the ‘inadequate’ and we are now waiting for Ofsted to come back to re-inspect the setting.

“We are very hopeful that this will happen within the next few months. At that point we have been assured that we will receive the rating we deserve.

“We want to reassure everyone that the safety and care of our children has never been compromised and that the exemplary standards… [to] ensure children are happy and safe in our setting have not changed.

“We have had an apology from Ofsted as they did not follow due process in the publication of this report, it has gone out to the public without us having the chance to [see] it first.

“This has meant that we have not been able to address some of the clear inaccuracies that are in the report, and neither have we been able to discuss this with our parents and carers of the children in our setting.

“We have issued a complaint to Ofsted and they have removed the current report until we have had the opportunity to further address these issues.”

Ms Casserley says the missing paperwork relates to ‘EY2 forms’ – the documents anyone connected with a daycare setting, including trustees, must complete during an initial registration process.

She says she’s not the first childcare provider to fall foul of the guidelines surrounding these forms, and is encouraging others to make sure theirs are complete.

Ms Casserley said: “If you are a committee-run preschool setting, please, please make sure everyone in your committee has filled in their EY2 forms to Ofsted.

“We know of three settings already in Lincolnshire [that] have received ‘inadequate’ because their trustees have no EY2 forms. We have gone from outstanding to inadequate, we have definitely found out the hard way.”

The now retracted inspection report saw the playgroup rated ‘inadequate’ overall, but it earned ‘good’ ratings for its quality of education’ and children’s ‘behaviour and attitudes’.

The playgroup cares for pre-schoolers aged two to four and has 25 children on roll.