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Inspectors find mice droppings at Holloway nursery

Boss vows to turn ‘inadequate’ rating to ‘outstanding’

10 August, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Managing director James Baines: ‘I was gutted’

A FAMILY-run Holloway nursery has vowed to improve its standards after mouse droppings were found during a damning Ofsted inspection.

James Baines said that receiving an “inadequate” rating for Little Acorns Day Nursery, off Roman Way, from the education watchdog was a “baptism of fire”.

Managing director Mr Baines had taken over the daily operation of the business from his mother, Teresa Stear, just a week before the inspection in July, the first since it opened in 2017.

Asked about his reaction to the report, the 30-year-old said: “I was gutted. We don’t do this business to be millionaires. It’s about provision, it’s all about looking after kids.

“We were looking for an ‘outstanding’ here. Our marketing was ready for that.”

In their report, inspectors said staff failed to identify a mice infestation in areas where children play, adding: “Children’s health is compromised because the premises are unclean and staff do not consistently follow appropriate hygiene practices.

“For example, daily and weekly cleaning schedules are not effective or implemented. On the day of the inspection, dirt, grime and mouse droppings were in areas accessed by children, both in the nursery and outdoor area.”

Mr Baines said the team then worked through the night to make im­provements, including ripping up decking from the outdoor play area which had become a “runway” for mice.

The staff cleaning rota has been updated and a new pest control contract introduced, he said. The cleaning company has been changed, with cleaning increased from twice to four times a week, with a deep clean every month.

Ofsted said staff did not meet the “learning needs of all the children”, staff expectations of children’s achievements were “too low” and teaching was “inadequate”.

The report reads: “For example, on the day of the inspection limited activities had been planned and children were often left to occupy themselves with the resources available.”

Mr Baines said that on the “unfortunate” day inspectors visited, half of the staff were from an agency as the regular workers were on holiday.

Staff appraisals and a full review of every child’s file has taken place since, he said.

Inspectors praised the positive relationship staff developed with parents, saying: “They provide a warm welcome and respect their wishes.”

The council has said, in line with government guidance, it will not be funding any new places at the nursery and is considering whether to withdraw funding for existing places.

The family business was founded by Ms Stear, from St Albans in Hertfordshire, 30 years ago. It has another nursery in Ealing. After becoming unwell and spending time in hospital over the last two years, she has taken a step back.

Ofsted inspects all failing nurseries within six months. Mr Baines said: “They said there’s only one nursery that has ever gone from inadequate to outstanding, I want to be number two. It’s as simple as that.”

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