Some of you may have followed our battle with OFSTED over the last 7 months, to get our grading at The Old Station Nursery, Innsworth over-turned. To summarise a very long explanation, we had an inspection in May 13 when the inspector told us we were ‘good’ but then a week later she phoned us back to say that she had to downgrade this to a ‘satisfactory’ judgement as part of the quality assurance process, as we had reported a compliance issue to OFSTED in September 2012. We all felt this was really unfair, as the compliance issue had involved a member of staff recording the administration of medicine incorrectly, which 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 we were told by Tribal (the agency who inspect on behalf of OFSTED) that they had acted properly. I then raised a second stage appeal with OFSTED and they investigated the whole process again. After 7 months, I held out very little hope of ever getting an answer, so 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.
Whilst this is clearly good new for us, it has taken more than 7 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. Staff were extremely upset by the whole process and it has taken a while to pick ourselves up again and move forward. The Ofsted Big Conversation is continuing to bring providers together and has secured several meetings with OFSTED regional heads. However, there is still a long way to go and we must all continue to share experiences and to lobby for a more transparent system. We know that our children deserve the best and want to work with OFSTED to achieve this, but there must be a better system to sort out complaints than the current one – is justice after 7 months really good enough?