Highgate nursery shuts after safety fears are raised by Ofsted

A Highgate nursery has been forced to close after a damning Ofsted report found it breached major safety and welfare standards.

Highgate Newtown Community Centre has announced that the nursery at its site in Bertram Street will shut today.

An inspector noted: “Staff do not identify all risks, such as the dangers of having ropes hanging in the garden. As a result, the younger aged children are able to pull at these and wrap themselves round these ropes. This significantly compromises their safety.”

An accident record also details a number of minor incidents indoors where children have been running and bumping into each other.

The inspection also reveals that volunteers working with the children may not have undergone suitability checks.

Director Andrew Sanalitro said that as a result of the report – which gave an “inadequate” rating – funding from Camden Council would be axed automatically and it could no longer afford to keep the nursery open.

There are currently 44 children registered at the pre-school. It caters for two to five-year-olds and employs six staff and two volunteers. Its closure has prompted fears that there will be a shortage of part-time nursery school places in the area come September.

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Highgate councillor Sally Gimson said: “The closure is happening at a late stage in the academic year and parents are worried they won’t get places, especially on a part-time basis, which there is a real lack of here.

“I am talking to Cllr Angela Mason [cabinet member for children] and officers at Camden Council to see whether we can make sure all parents intending to get a place for their child can do so. It’s early days but the council is working hard to find a solution.”

The report also states that staff do not provide sufficient activities to engage with the children and, as a result, their progress across all areas of learning is suffering.

Relationships praised

But it says that relationships with parents are positive and children form sound relationships with one another.

Mr Sanalitro said the nursery has been running at an “unsustainable loss” and, although staff had worked hard to resolve a number of safety concerns, they were left with little choice but to close. He added that staff were considering whether they could run a nursery as a social enterprise.

Plans to refurbish the community centre were discussed at a public meeting last night hosted by Camden Council. The next meeting is on August 6 at 6.30pm at the Whittington Estate TRA Room, Dartmouth Park Hill entrance.