Inspectors find dirty toys after complaint at nursery
A NURSERY boss has said her business is "under siege" after complaints sparked two unannounced inspections.
Flying Start nursery, in Saltash, is now being monitored by education watchdog Ofsted over poor hygiene and low staffing levels.
Inspectors, acting after a complaint from a parent, reported finding "dirty" toys and "insufficient" staff members during one visit.
Since The Herald contacted the nursery, letters have been sent out to parents explaining the findings of the report.
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In the letter, Sharon Cowburn, managing director of Flying Start Nursery, said: "We are now conducting a full, internal review which, as you would expect, could result in capability/disciplinary measures if shortfalls are proven."
The nursery, based at Cornwall College, opened its doors in 1999. At its last inspection, in 2007, it was graded as 'outstanding' by Ofsted.
However, in the last year two complaints have been lodged. The most recent, received by Ofsted last month, raised concerns over cleanliness and hygiene standards, claiming toys and floors were dirty and that children did not wash their hands before eating.
The complainant, who had considered sending her two-year-old son to the nursery before having a look around, also voiced worries over the required adult-to-child ratio.
In its response, Ofsted said: "We carried out an unannounced visit to the premises and found, through scrutiny of documentation and observation, that at times there was insufficient staff working directly with the children to meet the minimum required adult to child ratios.
"On inspection we found that some areas, toys and resources were dirty and in poor condition."
The report added: "Children present were happy and settled and appeared to have their individual needs met."
A notice to improve was then issued to ensure staffing arrangements meet the needs of children and that outdoor and indoor spaces, furniture, equipment and toys are safe and suitable.
Ofsted now plans to monitor Flying Start to ensure it meets these actions.
The first complaint, lodged on March 15 this year, raised concerns about maintaining children's safety and supervision when being escorted back to the setting from school.
After an unannounced visit Ofsted found that "a comprehensive risk assessment in relation to school collections was not in place."
Steve and Sharon Cowburn, directors of nine Flying Start nurseries, currently look after up to 700 children.
Mrs Cowburn said: "I feel like we're under siege. It's a family business, I'm a working mother and we've been in business for 20 years now.
"We've never had a situation like this before, we've upheld really high standards. We're making sure we can be the best we can be and we're very proud of our nursery.
"Staff work hard and parents are happy. Sometimes you will get niggles and we deal with them personally."
The letter to parents adds that cleaning procedures have been "tightened" in light of Ofsted's report. The nursery has also taken on three new workers.
"It's a difficult time," Mrs Cowburn added. "[But] we will continue to show we have a good reputation."