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Inspector demands improvement from Culbokie Primary School Nursery as 'significant weaknesses' at Black Isle council-run facility flagged

By Alasdair Fraser

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Culbokie Primary School Nursery is again in the spotlight 18 months after a similarly scathing report by inspectors. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Culbokie Primary School Nursery is again in the spotlight 18 months after a similarly scathing report by inspectors. Picture: James Mackenzie.

A BLACK Isle nursery has been slated for leaving children “at risk of harm” through management failures.

Highland Council-run Culbokie Primary School Nursery is again in the spotlight 18 months after a similarly scathing report by inspectors.

The nursery caters for up to 24 children from the age of three to school entry age and was subject to unannounced inspections on October 3 and 4 this year.

The Care Inspectorate found the service suffered from “major weaknesses in critical aspects of performance” which required immediate action.

Amid criticism of nursery management, the report stated: “Staff were not sufficiently supported to improve their skills, knowledge and understanding.

“When inconsistencies in practice had been identified, processes were not in place to address these.

“Staff did not take accountability for making improvements, or learn from serious incidents. The culture within the service did not support families to highlight areas of concern.

“As a result, children were at risk of harm and did not benefit from high quality care and support.”

The report said nursery resources needed to be improved to provide a high-quality learning environment.

Efforts to enhance the service through quality assurance and self-evaluation processes had proven “ineffective” in achieving sustained improvement.

Inspectors drew feedback from five children, 12 families, two additional parents, as well as five staff and management.

How the story was reported last year.
How the story was reported last year.

They also observed the service in action to identify positive aspects and failings,

Of the four areas of service evaluated, three were rated as “weak”, the second lowest grading on a scale of one to six.

'Devastated' parents react to deeply critical report

The fourth evaluated – leadership – was branded “unsatisfactory”, the lowest possible grading.

Some care provided was “nurturing, supporting children to feel settled”, with “good access to the outdoors which supported their overall health and wellbeing”.

But there were criticisms of care, play and learning, with the report saying “staff missed cues from some children who needed support.”

Some children arrived anxious and staff “did not always… engage with them and make them feel welcome”, with some interactions “dismissive of children's emotions”.

The report stated: “Whilst we identified some strengths, these were compromised by significant weaknesses.

“The weaknesses, either individually or when added together, substantially affect children's experiences or outcomes.”

An action plan for improvement included ensuring that children were “protected from risk of harm”, by putting effective systems in place to ensure the nursery environment was safe, and staff were skilled in identifying and addressing risks.

There was a need for better supervision of children’s hand washing, appropriate nappy changing facilities and a space for intimate personal care.

Black Isle councillor Lyndsey Johnston said Highland Council officers were aware of the report, acknowledged the findings and that the plans were afoot to make improvements.

She said: "Highland Council is looking at this as something to learn from."

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “The Highland Council is committed to providing quality learning environments, experiences and interactions for our pupils in Early Learning and Childcare.

“The nursery is aware of the needs of all their children and takes their health, safety and welfare extremely seriously.

Thge report can be read on the Care Inspectorate website here.

“Improvements to the ELC have been made including reinforced processes and training. Action plans are in place to ensure that these are embedded and sustained.”

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