St Helens playgroup is shut down over safety concerns

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  • New Street Playgroup has been closed by inspectors
  • Children left in cold building
  • Review also finds staff were not trainined in first aid

A St Helens playgroup where childen’s welfare was put at risk has been shut down after persistently failing to make necessary improvements.

The New Street Playgroup was closed by Ofsted after inspectors found numerous shocking failings over a staggering five-year period.

The failure to plan as to what would happen in a medical emergency is just one example of a failure to anticipate problems or think things through

Care Standards Tribunal report

Inspectors, working with staff from St Helens Council, gave staff support and advice on how to improve.

Among the failings, inspectors found the building was often cold, with temperatures sometimes plummeting to as low as 15c.

The report heard: “A number of concerns were noted. Staff supervisions were not taking place, children’s emotional needs were not being met because there was no effective key person system and no accurate observations and assessments were being performed.

“The quality of the teaching had not been improved. A number of hazards were identified and there were issues about the security and safety of the premises.”

Sara Donlan, the playgroup’s manager, was named in a Care Standards Tribunal document as the appellant in a hearing to appeal against Oftsed’s decision to close the facility.

However, the tribunal heard shocking evidence of the lack of care shown at the playgroup.

One example included a child who was left to cry for 15 minutes.

“Ms Donlan agreed this could never be acceptable” the report states.

“There was also concern about the temperature of the building recorded as 15 degrees. The setting is based in portable buildings with electric heaters and it was acknowledged that when the doors were left open, which they often were when the children were outside, then this brought the temperature down.

“The concern that there was no first-aid box accessible at all times, could have been easily remedied.

“What was more concerning was the lack of planning to train up the required number of paediatric first-aiders, rather than the manager being qualified in this area.

“The failure to plan as to what would happen in a medical emergency is just one example of a failure to anticipate problems or think things through.

“Ms Donlan had had a clear warning on May 3, 2017. It is therefore particularly concerning that when inspectors returned on May 17 she was still finding very basis issues.

“There was we accept not sufficient clean bedding. A large knife had been left in the kitchen drawer.

“Our concern was that this was not a sudden turn of events and that the committee appears to have taken no active steps to remedy this.”

After hearing the evidence the Care Standards Tribunal has cancelled the registration of the committee that runs the playgroup, effectively shutting it down.