Sheffield nursery closed as Ofsted investigates potential 'risk of harm' to children

Lamb Setts Montessori Nursery in Mosborough
Lamb Setts Montessori Nursery in Mosborough
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A nursery in Sheffield has been forced to close as Ofsted continues to investigate complaints about the restraint of children.

The Star reported last week how Lamb Setts Montessori Nursery in Mosborough was being probed by the education watchdog 'as a priority' after some parents claimed youngsters there had been strapped into chairs because they were misbehaving.

The nursery, which has denied the allegations in letters to parents, had its registration suspended by Ofsted last Friday for an initial period of six weeks, forcing it to close and remain shut until the suspension is lifted.

Ofsted today published an update saying the nursery had failed to notify the watchdog of an allegation made against a member of staff, which constitutes an offence.

"The purpose of the suspension is to allow time to investigate our belief that children may be exposed to a risk of harm and for any necessary steps to be taken to eliminate or reduce the risk of harm," it stated.

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"We will regularly review the situation and will lift the suspension within this period if we believe children are no longer at risk We are continuing with our investigations. The provider is still registered with Ofsted."

Ofsted said it was first notified on February 7 of concerns about the nursery and six days later the provider admitted it had failed to notify Ofsted of an allegation made against a member of staff. The provider was served with a warning letter on Wednesday last week and that Friday had its registration suspended.

The nursery has declined to respond to The Star, but has addressed the allegations in a new letter to parents.

"Some parents of children in the school have stated that their child has referred to a 'strap chair' that you go in if you are naughty," the letter from manager Christy Bakewell and her staff states.

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"This is not Lamb Setts policy. We are a Montessori setting and do not have a naughty chair, naughty corner or anything of that nature. We do not even use the word 'naughty' here.

"Some children with special needs may need to sit on a chair with baby safety reins, or use a safety wrist strap, but this would be an agreed strategy used as part of their care plan and discussed with parents.

"If any member of staff was acting outside of this policy they would be doing so without our knowledge or consent and I would find this type of behaviour totally unacceptable."

The letter asks parents to judge the nursery on their own personal experience, and on how 'happy and settled' their children are.

The Star has now spoken to a mother who claims her four-year-old son told her he had been strapped into a chair for being naughty.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said her son does not have special needs and staff had never told her or her husband that his behaviour had been challenging.

"There are at least five children we're aware of who say they've been in this strap chair, and they all say the same thing, which is that you're put in it when you're naughty," she said.

"When I got notification to say the nursery was being closed I felt relief that our children are being taken seriously."

The nursery on Chapel Street was last inspected by Ofsted in 2014, when it was rated 'good'.