A NURSERY in Upper Nithsdale has been branded 'weak' by Scotland's care watchdog.

Concerns raised in a Care Inspectorate report included a disproportionate ratio of staff numbers to children, poor arrangements for sleep and rest, and the lack of a safe environment to prevent and control infection.

Providing care to a maximum of 60 children, Kelloholm Nursery received an unannounced visit from the care regulator on December 12 and 13.

A newly-published report on that visit describes the facility as 'weak' in all four categories evaluated - quality of care, quality of setting, quality of leadership and quality of the staff team.

The rating is the second lowest available on the scale, where 1 is unsatisfactory and 6 is excellent.

Dumfries and Galloway Council, which runs the facility, says plans are already in place to make improvements.

The report stated that children did not have access to fresh water throughout the nursery, while the ratio of staff numbers to children - while meeting the requirements of the nursery's registration - was criticised, with staff "mostly engaged in managing and responding to children's behaviour" - which, according to the report, resulted in some children being "disengaged".

According to the report, one parent told the inspectors: "I think the nursery is very busy for the size of the room. My child used to be very confident, but since started nursery, they have become very shy.

"I think this is because of the volume of people".

The report added: "Staff did not promote a safe environment for themselves and children in relation to infection prevention and control. For example, we observed inadequate handwashing procedures."

Concerns around management of the nursery were also raised in the report, which was supported by parental concerns.

One parent said: "There isn't ever any management staff available when collecting your child. You can contact the head teacher at school but this can mean you waiting a few days to get any problems resolved."

Another added: "There is no management at the nursery, so there is definitely room for improvement somewhere. You can tell the staff are under pressure."

The inspectors said a better plan should be put in place for management to support staff.


The report also mentioned concerns raised by parents with inspectors about the lack of communication from staff.

One parent quoted in the report said: "From an adult perspective it's a shambles. No communication or feedback on how they've got on each day.

"Other parents have already or are considering moving their child to another nursery as it's that bad."

Another added: "It's not the staff's fault. They are just trying to do too much, and don't have enough time in the day as well as creating a nurturing environment for the children."

A spokesperson for the council said: "Since the inspection a robust plan to take forward improvements has been put in place.

"Dumfries and Galloway Council have appointed an experienced principal teacher to oversee the work of the nursery at Kelloholm Primary School, and central officers will provide regular support and training for staff to ensure that children receive high quality early learning and childcare in a nurturing and stimulating environment."