A North London nursery has been downgraded to the lowest possible rating by Ofsted, with the quality of education described as having ‘significantly declined’ since the last inspection. Staff at Nicoll Road Nursery School in Brent were heavily criticised for ‘compromising babies’ health’.
The nursery, on Nicoll Road in Harlesden, provides day care to up to 50 zero to four-year-old children during school term time. It receives funding from Brent Council for early years education for kids aged two to four.
Having been classed as ‘Good’ after its previous inspection, Nicoll Road Nursery School was rated ‘inadequate’ following its latest visit (November 2023) – the worst possible Ofsted grading. A poor curriculum and lack of knowledge by staff resulted in a ‘chaotic atmosphere’, according to inspectors.
Staff were slammed for not following the latest NHS guidelines around sterilisation of milk bottles and food, and government advice on safe sleep. The report states that they were ‘not aware of the risks’ involved with using pillows and loose blankets around sleeping babies.
The management were also criticised for not providing staff with the relevant training to implement a solid curriculum and keep children safe. Children’s speech development was said to be impacted by staff speaking ‘at the children, rather than to them’ so they couldn’t practice a two-way conversation and records of how children had sustained injuries on site were described as ‘not always accurate’.
The report states: “Staff do not always communicate with each other or with children to help them learn what is right and wrong. As a result, some children begin to show undesirable behaviour that is not safe for others.”
It adds: “Other children become disruptive, do not concentrate and do not engage in purposeful play experiences and opportunities. This means children do not develop positive attitudes to help them prepare for their next stage in learning.”
However, inspectors state that parents told them that they hold staff in ‘good regard’ and say their children are happy to attend. The school provides them with daily feedback, parental conferences and newsletters so they are kept informed with their child’s progress. Staff were praised for their outdoor play plan, where the kids make friends and develop their social skills.
Nicoll Road Nursery School were approached for comment but did not respond ahead of publication.
The nursery is required to make improvements to the service ahead of a follow up inspection, including installing a key-person system to form relationships with the children during routines, have proper sterilisation equipment, improve the curriculum, and implement the correct safe sleep guidance.
Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Cllr Gwen Grahl, said: “Ofsted is the arbiter of quality for early years settings. The council continues to work in a supportive way with individual childcare providers and the sector as a whole to improve outcomes including when areas of need are identified.”