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Nursery wins battle over downgrading by Ofsted

The Old Station Nursery in Innsworth has won its fight to get its Ofsted grading over-turned.

Owner Sarah Steel said she was “delighted and surprised” when the nursery’s grading of ‘good’ was reinstated. It is thought to be one of the first nurseries in England to get a complaint-driven inspection result by Ofsted over-turned.

The Innsworth nursery was originally inspected back in May 2013 and was told by the inspector the grading was ‘good’. A week later the nursery was informed that the grading had been changed to ‘satisfactory’ as part of the quality assurance process. This was due to a compliance issue back in September 2012 involving a member of staff recording the administration of medicine incorrectly.

Ms Steel said this “was fully dealt with at the time, and the inspector checked all aspects of this and was happy with how we had acted. We felt that settings shouldn’t be punished for having acted correctly when mistakes occurred and that the judgement the inspector makes on the day should be more valid than that of someone in quality assurance who has never set foot in the nursery”.

The first appeal was not upheld and the Old Station Nursery were told by Tribal (the agency who inspect on behalf of Ofsted) that they had acted properly.

Ms Steel raised a second stage appeal with Ofsted and they investigated the whole process again.

She “was surprised and delighted to hear a few weeks ago that they had re-examined the inspector’s notes and agreed that the judgements she made reflected a ‘good’ nursery. Our report has been amended and our grading of ‘good’ has been reinstated.”

Ms Steel added: “Whilst this is clearly good news for us, it has taken more than seven months to get to this outcome, during which time our public grading has been only ‘satisfactory’, which undoubtedly has not helped our occupancy levels, particularly through the key summer months.”

It also had an impact on her staff who were “extremely upset by the whole process and it has taken a while to pick ourselves up again and move forward”.

In the wake of the victory, Ms Steel is urging other nursery providers to share their experiences and lobby for a more transparent system.

In its letter to Ms Steel, Ofsted stated ‘As a result of this investigation, your original judgements will be reinstated. The report will be amended and a new report sent as soon as possible.

‘This investigation has found that while the original investigation was completed in line with Ofsted’s published guidance, it was not sufficiently thorough. I would like to apologise for any frustration this caused you. Following this review, the three key judgements and the overall judgement will be amended to good.’

February 2014