Hackenthorpe Hall Nursery Sheffield: Manager disputes 'inadequate' Ofsted grade by taking it to Parliament

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Her complaint about the watchdog's visit has been put to - and accepted by - an Education Committee inquiry into Ofsted's conduct.

A Sheffield nursery manager has rejected an 'inadequate' Ofsted grading of her daycare - and is taking her complaints to Parliament.

Hackenthorpe Hall Nursery, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next April, has held a 'good' or equivalent rating with the education watchdog since its first visit in 2004.

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However, its record has been tarnished by a new report published on September 25, where it has been dropped down to 'inadequate'.

Emma Brown, manager of Hackenthorpe Hall Nursery, has rejected an 'inadequate' grading by Ofsted and is taking her complaints to Parliament.Emma Brown, manager of Hackenthorpe Hall Nursery, has rejected an 'inadequate' grading by Ofsted and is taking her complaints to Parliament.
Emma Brown, manager of Hackenthorpe Hall Nursery, has rejected an 'inadequate' grading by Ofsted and is taking her complaints to Parliament. | Google Maps

The report says despite children's "positive relationships with staff" and how older kids "show they are happy", lead inspector Ruth Moore states "children's safety and well-being are not assured".

"Some staff do not have a secure knowledge and understanding of how to safeguard children from harm", the report reads.

But it adds: "...children do not make good enough progress in their learning... Babies cry for long periods of time as staff try to settle too many children... Younger children become bored and several wander round the room looking for things to do... Quieter babies are ignored."

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As a result, Hackenthorpe Hall has been rated Inadequate' overall and ordered to make improvements, such as taking safeguarding training, reworking its curriculum, and deploying more staff in the baby room.

The Star understands the inspection came as a result of a complaint. Typically, this results in an investigation of just the complaint, but was instead met with a full graded inspection.

Now, however, manager Emma Brown has rebuffed the report - and is taking her complaints to Parliament.

Ms Brown has put her complaints about the visit on July 4 to South Yorkshire MPs Alexander Stafford and Clive Betts for use in an inquiry over Ofsted's conduct, launched by the Education Committee following the death of Wiltshire headteacher Ruth Perry.

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When asked what took place during the inspection, Ms Brown told The Star: "Alexander Stafford MP has accepted and submitted our evidence for this inquiry about our experience with this inspector, therefore it would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail at this time. Clive Betts MP for Hackenthorpe has given us his full support and has given the staff the will to carry on.

"Hackenthorpe Hall Nursery is a ‘good’ provision and has been consistently ‘good' for the last 20 years. There are times when we are ‘outstanding’ and times when we ‘require umprovement’ when we identify any weaknesses in our provision.

"'Inadequate’ is not in any way a reflection of our nursery and we will continue to keep babies and children safe and educated going forward as we have done for the last 25 years.

"We are looking forward to hearing the outcome of the Parliamentary Enquiry."

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It comes after several other nurseries in Sheffield have also publicly voiced their disagreement with their Ofsted ratings.

As reported by The Star last week, Sunshine Pre-School manager Kelly Wright lodged a complaint over their 'inadequate' grading. In it, she says she was "given three months" by the education watchdog to prepare when she "should have had 30". It should be noted that the date of the inspection is not decided by the team of inspectors on the day but by higher-ups at Ofsted.

Staff at Just For Kidz Mosborough voiced their displeasure when they were rated 'inadequate' by the same inspector in January 2023, before they were upgraded to 'good' six months later by a different inspector.

Another was Bole Hill Nursery, which was widely supported by its parents following an 'inadequate' report in December 2022, before it was raised up to 'good' again in May 2023.

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Meanwhile, parents have rallied behind Hackenthorpe Hall following the new report, with The Star receiving 20 glowing endorsements of the setting by email on September 26.

One parent, 'Jodie M', wrote: "Our daughter attends the baby room every day and I have never had an issue with this nursery. She is 12 months old and is developing extremely well in all areas and loves her time with the staff. I know this because I receive regular photos where she gives us the biggest smiles. Our daughter’s development is well documented and updated regularly. Her speech development has noticeably improved since she started.

"Ofsted are not fit for purpose if this is the grade given to this excellent nursery and staff team."

Another, 'Katie B', wrote: "Hackenthorpe Hall team, children and parents know different. Keep doing the amazing job you do. My daughter will still be attending her sessions. Keep up the hard work. This is not a true reflection of the nursery."

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