Parents’ anger as inspectors label nursery ‘weak’

High School Yards nursery off the Cowgate. Picture: Dan Phillips
High School Yards nursery off the Cowgate. Picture: Dan Phillips
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PARENTS at an Edinburgh nursery have slammed its managers after it was graded “weak” across the board in a scathing report from the Care Inspectorate.

Inspectors laid bare a series of basic failings at the city centre-based High School Yards nursery, off the Cowgate, where broken toy cars “with sharp edges” and “adult-sized” dressing up clothes were among the unsafe and inappropriate toys offered to pre-school youngsters.

In the baby room, they found infants had access to a “treasure basket” containing breakable glass jars, while staples which could have been eaten were within easy reach after being left strewn over the nursery floor. And although staff informed them that children receive a healthy morning snack of milk and fruit, inspectors found youngsters were actually being offered toast and jam with water.

Inspectors also drew attention to the nursery’s chronically high staff turnover rate – after its manager left while their report was being ­completed.

The damning judgement comes after High School Yards was bought from the city council by The Really Good Company (Edinburgh) Ltd last summer and re-opened as a private facility.

One parent, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s a service I no longer have confidence in.

“It feels like many of the things carried out at the nursery have been on the basis of putting money first [over the] good of the children.

“Things are going from bad to worse. I feel I’ve given the nursery many chances to turn things around but I don’t feel that they have.”

Inspectors have now issued the nursery with an emergency action plan, under which it will have to boost the number of qualified carers and reduce staff turnover, provide “meaningful activities” to children and ensure a robust whistle-blowing procedure is available to staff who are worried about standards.

In a statement, Care Inspectorate chiefs said they had “concerns” about the nursery and would push for rapid change. A spokesman said: “The health, safety and well-being of all children is our absolute priority so we are working closely with the provider to ensure the necessary improvements are made. Our job is not just to inspect, but help care services improve.”

Bosses at The Really Good Company said the nursery had taken on board the criticisms and insisted every effort would be made to overhaul services before a follow-up probe.

Jane Gilbert, who runs the firm, said: “We have an action plan that we have agreed with parents and we are trying to improve all the time.”

While a second member of staff added: “We are trying to improve our service. The care inspectorate will be back out within six months and hopefully will recognise a difference with the work that we are putting in.”