A south east London nursery where safety is “compromised” with a “chaotic” environment has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted.

Little Pumpkins Nursery Ltd was inspected by Ofsted on October 31, 2023 and the report was published on December 29, 2023.

The nursery, based on Crowther Road, was evaluated as inadequate in every area: Quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

It had previously been rated as good following its inspection back in February 2020.

Inspectors reported that children’s safety and wellbeing is “compromised” at Little Pumpkins and that leaders “consistently” fail to meet the statutory adult to child ratio.

As a result, staff cannot always supervise children properly and as a result Ofsted described the nursery environment as “chaotic”.

For example, children were found to be climbing on furniture and arguing with their peers.

However, leaders at Little Pumpkins Nursery Ltd have said that the nursery is “in dispute” with Ofsted after finding the inspector’s approach to be “abrupt, harsh and unreasonable”.

They also believe that they have taken the necessary steps to improve the areas outlined by Ofsted as needing attention.

Dean Nichol, managing director of Little Pumpkins Nursery Group Ltd, has said that they are committed to an “ongoing process of self-evaluation”.

In its report, Ofsted found that children at Little Pumpkins Nursery who need extra support to interact and engage are some of those impacted the most by the areas that need to be improved.

It was also reported that staff who are newer to the nursery take on key-person responsibilities without fully understanding the job.

This makes it hard for staff who lack the experience or qualifications to meet the children’s needs, Ofsted reported.

On the day of Ofsted’s inspection, they found that most adults working with children did not hold a recognised childcare qualification.

Leaders at this branch of Little Pumpkins have deployed staff to other branches, leaving this one without enough staff.

It was found that overall, children enjoy playing together here.

However, “due to weakness in teaching” not all children are able to get the most out of “targeted support” here.

An area Ofsted was positive about was the treatment of babies, with the youngest children receiving “plenty of affection”.

Staff working with babies were found to be passionate about their roles.

Inspectors found that the nursery provides a “healthy, balanced menu” with a lot of options to accommodate allergies and children eat well.

But, staff responsible for preparing these meals and handling food given to kids have not had training in food hygiene or managing food allergies.

Ofsted reported that procedures are not followed when it comes to getting permission to give children medicine.

They said: “The manager does not follow procedures thoroughly when gaining the required written permission from parents to administer medicine.

“This is a breach of requirements and significantly compromises children's health and safety.”

Dean Nichol said: “On October 31, we underwent an inspection that did not go as we had hoped.

“The inspector identified breaches in relation to the Early Years framework and judged the inspection as inadequate.

“However, we strongly believe that this does not accurately reflect our company and the high-quality childcare we provide, especially considering our Lewisham branch recently received an ‘outstanding’ rating, which demonstrates our commitment to excellence.”

He added: “We have already taken the necessary steps to address any recommendations and improvements made by Ofsted and no further actions remain outstanding.

“We understand that parents entrust us with the education and well-being of their children, and we are fully dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing environment.

“We are committed to an ongoing process of self-evaluation and improvement.

“We have established a dedicated quality assurance team that conducts regular internal audits and assessments to monitor progress and identify areas for further enhancement.
“It is crucial to note that the Ofsted rating does not define us as a childcare nursery.

“We have a long-standing reputation in the community for providing a nurturing and supportive environment for children to thrive.

“Our dedicated staff members are passionate about their work and are fully committed to ensuring the well-being and development of every child in our care.
“We invite the local community to visit our nursery, meet our staff, and witness first-hand the positive impact we have on the lives of the children we serve.

“We are confident that our commitment to continuous improvement will result in a positive re-evaluation by Ofsted in the near future.”