Staff speak out over troubled Swindon nursery
STAFF at the stricken nursery which closed its doors after a child in their care went missing, warned its owners of fundamental problems four months before it shut down.
And members of staff at Robert Le Kyng had brought their concerns over a lack of safeguarding and severe unprofessionalism weeks before three-year-old Lucas Bedwell went missing in June.
On May 12 a nursery worker, who does not wish to be named, submitted a formal complaint about the conduct of colleagues.
The allegations included calling one child ‘a pig’ for asking for raisins, refusing to treat wounds, and manhandling toddlers.
The letter, to senior management, said: “I have witnessed unprofessionalism and a severe void of basic understanding of childcare.
“Failing children and the trust of their parents can have huge implications I am not willing to risk.”
Lucas’ mother, Melisa Bedwell, said things had clearly not been right at the nursery for some time.
“I knew something was going on with the staff at the time,” she said. “Every time I went in there was someone new.
“Back in June I was potty training Lucas, and when I went in to the nursery I found him wearing his nappy with his pants over it. If that was the case I do not know what else was going on.
“They were being investigated, but shut down and Ofsted did not seem to come to any conclusions.”
Melisa added everyone involved with the nursery should accept some responsiblity.
“My problem was with the management,” she said. “The workers should take part of the blame as well. If they claim to look after your children they should be able to do that. It makes you think what process they go through to be able to look after young kids.
“At the end of last year we saw lots of staff change because many of them were not happy there.
“Some other parents had concerns within the nursery as well. When I look back I think of things that might have been wrong, but at the time you do not take much notice.
“Their responsibility was to look after children, and they failed. By closing down before Ofsted could report, they are not giving us the opportunity to know what went on there.
“I just hope they never open again.”
The nursery worker added: “The events of that day were very traumatic, but the nursery had problems going back a long time.
“They had a very high turnover of management, and few lasted more than a year. One of the previous managers was my NVQ tutor, and she only lasted four weeks. After a row with the owners she decided to leave.
“I resigned immediately after the incident, and two days later it had closed down. Parents did not even know how their children were being treated, and in the absence of an Ofsted report they might never know.
“While Ofsted were investigating, they came to me and asked if I had ever seen documents being destroyed or asked to lie. That was very worrying.
“This nursery never got a report from Ofsted, because the owner closed before they could complete their investigation.”
Headstarts owner Sara Vare was unavailable for comment, but her partner, Clive, has previously indicated the closures were the result of changes to the Ofsted inspection regime.
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