A council was given less than a day to make the main door to a pre-school “safe and secure” after Care Inspectorate staff were able to enter the premise “unnoticed and unchallenged” during an unannounced inspection.
In a report on its inspection of Sgoil Araich nan Loch on the Isle of Lewis on May 31, the Care Inspectorate (CI) found that although Comhairle nan Eilean Siar had installed a secure entry system to the school, the secure doors had been wedged open.
Inspectors told the authority that it must make the premises safe that day “to ensure that the main door to the premises is made safe and secure so no child whilst being independent can leave the premises unsupervised”.
The report also noted that the same requirement to make the door safe was made after an inspection in April 2019, but this requirement had not been met.
A spokesperson for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has confirmed that the security issue “has been rectified”.
Sgoil Araich nan Loch is registered to provide a care service to a maximum of 40 children from the age of two years to those not yet attending primary school.
The service provides Gaelic and English medium education in two rooms in the nursery area of Sgoil nan Loch.
The nursery provides pre-school education in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Children are funded for pre-school education from the age of three years.
In its inspection, CI found children attending the service “to be happy and engaged in their play”, and noted in their report that three parents whose children attended the service had told inspectors that “overall they were happy with the service and spoke of the nurturing ethos of the staff and management team.”
In terms of the quality of the care and support provided to children by the service, inspectors rated the service as being “good”, and found that “several important strengths, taken together, clearly outweighed areas for improvement” and that while “some improvements were needed”, the strengths identified had “a significant positive impact on the children’s experiences”.
Staff were kind, caring and nurturing towards children, Inspectors found, and said that inspectors could tell that staff knew children well.
A strength of the service, the report notes, was “the commitment” to supporting children’s health and well-being, and added that children were being encouraged to live healthy lifestyles through healthy eating and opportunities to play and learn outdoors in the fresh air.
Some children who attended the service required medication, the report stated and inspectors looked at how the service managed the safe storage, recording and administration of medication and the report states that improvements are needed to ensure children’s safety.
The report states that medication was not stored safely and that medication unsuitable for children under the age of five years was stored in the service.
Inspectors, the report stated, discussed this with the registered manager of the service during “and were reassured by the proposed actions planned”.
The issue of the security of the premises meant that the service was only rated as “adequate” by inspectors, but they also stated that improvements had been made to the physical environment for children, and staff had reviewed and re-evaluated the set-up of playrooms and the resources available and this “helped to encourage children’s investigation, problem solving and imaginative play”.
But concerns were raised by inspectors over arrangements for children’s mealtimes and said that these should be reviewed.
Currently, children are taken to the school lunch hall for lunch. As a result, inspectors stated, there was “little opportunity” for children to be involved in the preparation of lunch, and stated that due to the set-up of the tables and chairs, staff were unable to sit with children, engage or support them during lunch. This led, the report concluded, “to a hurried and stressful experience for children and staff.“
The report states that to support children’s health and well-being whilst promoting enjoyment of healthy eating, the manager and staff should improve mealtime experiences, and this should include “improved systems to monitor the quality of experience children receive and how staff engage with children during mealtimes and improved routines so that all children are supervised and enjoy relaxed mealtimes.”
The Care Inspectorate rated staffing of the service as “good” and said that staff were “kind, caring and responsive to children and their needs”, adding that there was a mix of skills and experience amongst the staff team and staff were “respectful of each other’s skills and knowledge and worked well as a team to improve outcomes for children and families using the service.“
Leadership of the service was also rated “good” by inspectors.
The report states that staff who spoke to inspectors found the management team “supportive and approachable.”