EXCLUSIVE By JOHN ELWORTHY TWO Ofsted inspectors who produced a damning report on a Wisbech nursery school were accused last night of heavy handed tactics and of leaving staff visibly upset, distressed and demoralised. David House, owner of the Elm Roa



TWO Ofsted inspectors who produced a damning report on a Wisbech nursery school were accused last night of heavy handed tactics and of leaving staff "visibly upset, distressed and demoralised."

David House, owner of the Elm Road Day Nursery, said: "The inspection was conducted in a way that was extremely distressing and demoralising to our staff."

Ofsted inspectors who visited in March produced a report claiming that the "quality and standards of care" at the school were inadequate. They issued a notice of action to improve which was immediately challenged by Mr House who wrung from Ofsted an unprecedented decision for an early re-inspection.

That re-inspection has already been conducted and Mr House is confident that when it is published this month it will offer a true reflection of how well he feels the school is performing.

Most Read

Mr House said he was out of the country when the Ofsted inspectors arrived the first time "but I was told we had an extremely unhappy experience. The two ladies who came were made everyone feel uncomfortable and we were very unhappy about the comments they made."

He said he had owned the nursery, which operates as Ladybirds and has 85 children on its roll for five years but it has been operating for 13 years.

"When we received their comments we regarded them as totally unreasonable," he said. "My manager is a tough cookie and has seen most things before, so for her to feel like this indicates something was seriously wrong with the inspection."

Mr House's complaint to Ofsted set out what he claimed was the true picture of the school where the staff "is very proud of the service we provided. We cannot therefore understand why, despite improvements made since a previous inspection, we are now regarded as unsatisfactory. It must be unreasonable that our reputation is under threat because of individual opinion."

He argued that not only did he not agree with the inspectors' findings, but "as importantly as the unfairness of the judgements was the way the inspectors behaved. My staff were belittled and intimidated.

"Morale after the inspection was very badly affected. In my view if we treated the children in our care in anything resembling a similar way, we would rightly be condemned and, in all probability, closed down immediately."

Mr House said the inspectors appeared to have followed up on a complaint which he claimed had been made "maliciously, either by a competitor or perhaps by a disaffected ex staff member. Is it reasonable that such complaints be recorded against us if they are so obviously unfounded?"

He had hoped the re-inspection report would have been published before the original report was released.

"We succeeded in delaying it a bit and it will only be the current report for about two weeks- the new report will supersede it," he said.

Hayley Readshaw, manager of the nursery, said she had been involved in child care for nearly 10 years and had never had an experience quite like this.

"Since coming into the school there has been many improvements, we provide excellent child care and have many parents who are extremely satisfied with what we do," she said.

"The inaccuracies of this first report caused serious problems for both me personally and the staff because we know their conclusions were way off mark. I am pleased that the re-inspection, which has happened much quicker than we had dared to hope, will confirm our criticisms were justified and that this is indeed a first rate nursery, offering first rate facilities for the people of Wisbech."

Mr House said: "The re-inspection took place last week and was a much happier event. The Ofsted inspector who carried it out behaved impeccably and indicated that her report will present a much more positive view of the nursery."

Ofsted have told the nursery they do not need to publish the first inspection report to parents but they had a statutory duty to make it available through the Ofsted website.