Kidderminster nursery back from brink of closing doors

Kidderminster Shuttle: ‘GOOD’: Manager Sharon Kennedy, centre, celebrates with pupils Zach Jenkins and Poppy Billings, both 4. 241439M. ‘GOOD’: Manager Sharon Kennedy, centre, celebrates with pupils Zach Jenkins and Poppy Billings, both 4. 241439M.

PARENTS and staff at a Kidderminster nursery facing closure just six months ago following a damning Ofsted report are celebrating its unlikely survival after inspectors returned and rated it good.

St Ambrose Pre-School, in Leswell Street, had its council funding axed after being labelled inadequate by Ofsted last December, leading to fears it would close in March.

The blow was originally described as “the straw that broke the camel’s back” by staff and it was on the brink but after parents rallied, it was decided to keep the pre-school running until the end of term and invite inspectors back.

Ofsted returned on May 1 and reported staff had “positively addressed” previous concerns and bumped its rating up to “good” – the second highest Ofsted grade – and now manager Sharon Kennedy says it’s time to “look to the future”.

She said: “We were devastated at the first report but we decided to put all our energy into getting them back to see what we are actually like. The parents said ‘we believe in you’ and stood behind us and it has paid off. It is still mixed emotions because it seems to have been a roller coaster but we are trying to get it right for the children. It would have been a real blow to close.”

Last December’s report criticised child safety and quality of teaching at the pre-school. Unlike state schools, an inadequate rating in pre-schools leads to the withdrawal of local authority funding. In response, parents who disagreed with the findings set up a “Save St Ambrose Pre-School” facebook page to help raise funds to keep the nursery running until the end of term.

Ofsted’s latest report stated: “The staff team have worked hard since the last inspection, positively addressing the actions and recommendations raised,” adding: “They demonstrate a good understanding of the safeguarding and welfare requirements.”

Inspectors said staff promoted children’s development “very well” and praised the relationship between staff and parents.

Parent Mary Collins, who has had three children attend the nursery, told The Shuttle: “I totally disagreed with the ‘inadequate’ report. When I read it, the pre-school described was not the one I recognised. Reading the new one, it is more like the one I know.

“A lot of parents were so upset we set up a facebook page to try to work together and see if we could help in any way. We were ecstatic reading the new report and want to continue working to get it ready for September and help it stay open.”

Ms Kennedy added: “We have come through this episode now, it is history and we have got to look to the future.”

The nursery looks after 28 children aged two to four and employs eight staff.

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