Nursery in Saffron Walden say ‘mistake’ led to inadequate Ofsted rating

PUBLISHED: 10:40 11 March 2019

Bell Day Nursery in Saffron Walden received an inadequate rating from Ofsted.

Bell Day Nursery in Saffron Walden received an inadequate rating from Ofsted.


The directors of a nursery in Saffron Walden which was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted said they made a genuine mistake by illegally operating an extension of the nursery at another site.

Directors of Bell Day Nursery, in Mount Pleasant Road, demonstrated an “inadequate understanding of their legal responsibilities” by providing childcare at an unapproved premises, according to Ofsted.

The quality of teaching, personal development and outcomes for children at the nursery were all rated ‘good’. The inspector said children benefited from many visits to the community and parents show “strong support” for the nursery.

Arthur Coote, director and also deputy mayor of Saffron Walden, explained why the nursery received an overall ‘inadequate’ rating, however.

“Three years ago we had a waiting list, so we couldn’t serve the community in the best way we could. A decision was made that we would find new premises and try and get some Section 106 money,” Mr Coote said.

“We got very close to an agreement with another nursery and we also had an agreement with Walden School - just before they closed we were set to take over the nursery and we were close to signing a contract with them. We started recruiting new staff and told parents that we could accommodate their children. Then it closed and we were back to square one.

“We had mothers on the phone crying because they couldn’t get childcare so we were in a really hard place.”

The directors eventually struck up an agreement with Lord Butler Leisure Centre to allow parents to park in the car park if Bell Day Nursery took on the leisure centre’s creche.

“We turned it into a viable extension of the nursery,” Mr Coote said. “But what we overlooked was Lord Butler Leisure Centre being on a different Ofsted register because it only provided childcare for four hours a day. They are voluntarily registered, but Bell Day Nursery is on Ofsted’s compulsory childcare register because we provide much more childcare.”

When Ofsted turned up in January, the inspector told Mr Coote that they were working outside regulations and would need to shut the facility immediately.

The nursery managed to find an Ofsted-registered site to operate in for 14 days before being registered and returning to Lord Butler Leisure Centre.

“It has been a very rewarding experience to realise what support we have from parents. There has not been one parent who has said anything negative. We have always said that we made a genuine mistake.”

Bell Day Nursery will be inspected by Ofsted again in six months.

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