Crescent Corner Day Nursery on Halifax Road, Grenoside, in Sheffield, was suspended from operating for six weeks following an inspection by the watchdog on January 12 – the first routine inspection the provider received since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
The report, released on Ofsted's website on January 14, states that children were ‘not kept safe from harm’, babies were frequently left feeling ‘distressed’ and ‘unsafe’, and staff failed to wash their hands after changing children's nappies.
The nursery is owned by Cornerstone Nurseries, which has several branches in the city.
In a nine-page report, inspectors described the staffing arrangements as 'poor,' with the youngest children cared for by 'unfamiliar adults' or the least qualified and experienced staff.
This, they said, has resulted in babies frequently feeling 'distressed' and 'unsafe' following the failure by bosses to check the suitability of adults to work with children before allowing them to have unsupervised contact, leaving the children at risk of possible harm.
The report also stated that the quality of education was poor as adults appeared to not move from the floor to make any attempt to engage children in any of the activities listed.
It said: “Adults say, 'Do you want to draw a picture or read a book or play? Erm, do you want to hop?'. Children do not respond; they lay on the floor and appear lethargic.
“This does not stimulate children's curiosity, interest or excitement in any learning opportunities. As a result, children become bored and do not make good progress across the areas of learning.”
In addition to poor quality of education, the inspectors also found that good health was not promoted within the premises.
During their inspection, adults and children did not always wash their hands, or clean surfaces before preparing, serving and eating food, the Ofsted report states.
Adults also did not wash their hands after changing children's nappies, placing the children at significant risk of the spread of infection.
Parents were also allowed to enter childcare rooms, despite a Covid safety policy in place.
During play time, Ofsted found that the adults did not engage children in two-way interactions or introduce new words to children.
Children also often did not respond to adults as they were not encouraged to talk about their thoughts and ideas, resulting in them lagging behind in their communication and language development.
There was a problem with the key person system as well, as parents did not know who their child’s key person was. It was revealed that staff from other branches came to cover staff shortages.
Therefore, they were unable to give information about children’s individual care and learning needs, leading to a ‘chaotic’ environment where children were unable to engage in meaningful play or learning and feel unsafe.
The report further revealed that the provider and staff did not do enough to identify and reduce risks to children as children were found to be playing near a fence that had sharp edges and splinters sticking out.
At times, there was no one on the premises who had a current paediatric first-aid certificate, meaning they would not be available to respond to an emergency.
Adults also did not keep records of all accidents, injuries and first aid given and did not supervise children adequately as they were found to be sitting together at one side of the room with their backs to children.
Additionally, the provider did not maintain records of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all staff and adults who have unsupervised contact with children.
Inspectors described the procedures for checking the quality of staff’s practice as ‘poor’ because newly-appointed staff had not received induction or given specific feedback about their performance.
In one instance, they shouted instructions from a distance and told children to stop being ‘silly’.
The report added: “The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective. Staff, including those with lead responsibility for safeguarding, have a poor knowledge and understanding of child protection.
"They would not be able to identify children who may be being abused or know what to do. The setting's safeguarding policy is not in line with local safeguarding partnership procedures.
"It contains out-of-date contact information for local statutory children's services. This means that staff do not have the information they need to quickly respond to safeguarding concerns.
"Staff do not know what they should do if an allegation is made against a member of staff. The recruitment processes and inadequate supervision of unchecked adults do not ensure the safety of children.
"Staff do not identify or address risks in the environment and, consequently, children are not kept safe from harm.”
The inspectors then recommended that nursery improve all areas by March 12.
A parent, who declined to be named, said: “To read that my child was so neglected at nursery and such disgusting hygiene practices were carried out is absolutely shocking.
"The nursery still were refusing to tell us anything as of February 10 about what was found.”
Another mum, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I’m livid. We paid money for this level of ‘care’. What were the owners doing for this to have happened?”
A third parent, who also refused to be identified, said: “And this is what they did in front of an inspector? How much worse was it when there wasn’t an inspector there?”
Cornerstone Nurseries has been approached for comment.