Management and leadership at a North-east council-run school day care centre have been branded ‘weak’ by the Care Inspectorate.
The ‘Fun 4 Kidz’ service at Port Erroll School in Cruden Bay was deemed to have ‘adequate’ grades in terms of care and support, environment and staffing.
Aberdeenshire Council now faces a raft of recommendations from inspectors who will be returning in just a few weeks to assess whether the required changes have been made at the out-of-school care service.
Despite the findings, however, parents and children appear happy with the services being provided.
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson commented: “We are working closely with the team to make improvements.
“While it is encouraging parents and children offered great feedback about the service, clearly there is work to be done to address the quality of leadership and management provided.”
During the unannounced April visit, inspectors spoke with six parents who said they were happy with the care provided for their children.
They felt that their children were safe and looked after, that the manager was approachable and that the care and support for children and the range of activities provided was good.
Inspectors said the children appeared “happy and relaxed” and had told them they enjoyed various activities including playing football, Jenga and colouring and drawing.
Inspectors said: “Warm and friendly relationships were evident and staff took time to talk to children about their school day and outside interests during the unhurried snack time.”
They said the children were respected, their achievements valued and they had been involved in creating the club rules and agreeing clear expectations of behaviour.
“As a result, they said, “we saw that children were well-behaved, well mannered and showed respect for their peers.”
However, the inspection team found management to be ‘weak’ and reported that the manager was finding it difficult to cope with running two out-of-school clubs.
The report stated: “The manager was unable to show us the management information that we asked for at the time of the inspection and did not provide this until after the inspection as promised.”
Inspectors said that contact details for families were not being kept up-to-date, evidence of health and safety procedures and risk assessment were not available and projected registers of attendance were not being kept up-to-date.
This, they stressed, meant staff were unsure of which children should be attending which meant that children could be at risk of not being safely collected and cared for after school.
In their findings on quality of care, the Care Inspectorate said a previous requirement to ensure plans were in place to support children’s health and care needs were not yet in place for all children who had allergies, health issues and additional support needs.
Where care plans were in place, they were not detailed enough as to what action staff need to take to support children effectively.
In its requirements, the inspectors said: “In order to ensure each child receives appropriate care and support and their needs are met the provider must by September 20, develop and implement personal plans for children. The plans must reflect children’s current needs and provide clear guidance to staff on how they will meet each child’s needs.”
While the club had the use of the school’s cafe area, two general purpose rooms and gym hall, the inspectors felt the children would benefit from more imaginative open-ended play resources, natural materials and more access to the outdoors.
They said: “Children advised that they only played outside if the weather was nice and that they would like to play outdoors much more often.”
In its recommendations, inspectors said they would like to see children receiving more challenging play opportunities.
They said the manager and staff should improve the organisation of the environment and presentation of the resources and ensure that children can choose on a daily basis to be physically active outdoors and explore
their local community and the natural environment.
In terms of staffing, the Care Inspectorate found that staff were “motivated and enjoying working with the children”.
As a result, a happy atmosphere was created and children were comfortable and relaxed with the staff.
However inspectors have demanded that sufficient staff are employed in the service by August 20 to “meet the needs of individuals and provide a high quality service” to all the children. It has also recommended that Aberdeenshire Council and the manager support staff to access high quality training to develop their knowledge of best practice and their skills.