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Nursery owners' 'stab to the heart' after inadequate Ofsted rating

Owners of a privately-run nursery are distraught after a critical Ofsted report.

Bronte Nursery, in Pelham Road, Gravesend, was rated “inadequate” by school watchdog Ofsted, with inspector Sue Mann describing the leadership and management of the nursery as “weak”.

It was a drop from a previous inspection in April 2010 which found it to be “good”.

An Ofsted inspection looks at how a nursery is meeting the needs of its children, its contribution to their well being and the effectiveness of the staff’s leadership and management.

Bronte, which looks after children up to the age of five, charges up to £988 a month for five days of full time child care. Husband and wife team, Peers and Susan Carter have been running the nursery since 2003 and described the report as a “stab to the heart”.

The former journalist disagreed that her staff were weak and explained that on the day of the inspection two employees had called in sick putting the rest of the team under pressure.

While the inspector found some positives – such as children’s daily access to fresh air in an enclosed, outdoor play area – there were concerns.

The report also criticised the nursery’s organisation at meal times as well commenting on a lack of “healthy options” to eat.

Mrs Carter said: “We have our own cook, we have locally sourced food and everything is freshly cooked every day.

“I just don’t think this inspector understood us. Of course all the food isn’t served at once, we’re not a restaurant, someone has to carry the food through from the kitchen and to bring 12 plates of food – perhaps some do arrive a few minutes apart.

She added: “We have intelligent day care, no child is forced to do anything. It’s as if they’re at home and basically they can do as they like. If they don’t want to eat the food we don’t make them, if they don’t want to go to sleep we don’t make them.”

Within the next 12 months Ofsted will monitor the nursery every three months to see if standards have improved. If not, it could cancel Bronte’s registration, making it illegal for the nursery to remain open.

Mr and Mrs Carter are assessing different aspects of the report and putting work in place to improve the nursery.

To read the report visit www.ofsted.gov.uk

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