Ofsted study finds safety concerns at RAF base nursery

Herald Series: Wing Commander Karl Mahon Wing Commander Karl Mahon

CONCERNS have been raised by Ofsted inspectors about the safeguarding of children at a nursery at RAF Benson near Wallingford.

The nursery, which cares for 101 children up to the age of eight at the RAF base, was said to have failed to protect them from “unsuitable persons”.

Inspectors visited the 4Children centre in October and in the report published at the end of last month said there had not been a secure process when employing agency staff, as there was for permanent staff.

During the visit staff were seen to be using nappy changing tables to do paperwork.

The report also made reference to a “significant incident” at the nursery but did not give details of what happened.

When asked, 4Children refused to say what the incident was.

The report said: “The provider has failed to notify Ofsted of a significant incident in a timely manner and therefore has placed children at risk of harm.

“Ofsted will not take any action in relation to the failure to notify of significant events. However this breach in regulations may be taken into account, should the provider fail to notify Ofsted of significant events in the future.”

Nikki Hamilton is the public relations officer for RAF Benson and her two children, seven-year-old William and Lucy, 20 months, attend the nursery.

She said: “The staff are absolutely wonderful. The changeover from the Old Station Nursery to 4Children I feel was quite rushed and there was a bit of confusion to start with. I would say there have been teething problems.

“There hasn’t really been the continuity there, but the care for the children hasn’t changed.

“Parents were a bit shocked at the report, but a lot has already been done to make improvements.”

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Wing Commander Karl Mahon, the Officer Commanding Base Support Wing, said: “We are confident that 4Children will make all the necessary improvements in a timely fashion, ensuring that the level of care provided to our children is more than satisfactory.”

Deputy chief executive of 4Children Charles Ellis said: “4Children is extremely disappointed in the outcome of this Ofsted inspection.

“We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality childcare and are very sorry that, in this instance, we have not met our own or Ofsted’s expectations.”

He added: “We have invested substantially in the nursery, together with our partners and have recruited new staff and management.

“We are working with the staff and partners to substantially improve the quality of the staff and the setting.”

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