A COMMUNITY-run pre-school playgroup in Yate has complained to regulator Ofsted after it was given two different ratings, following inspections just two months apart.
Phase Five Pre-School, which caters for 50 young children in total, is also launching a £400,000 appeal to build a new centre, to protect its work for future generations of Yate families.
Phase Five has been running for nearly 45 years.
It is split across two sites – and in December last year the site for two and three year olds in St Nicholas Church, Chargrove, was rated ‘Good’.
But in February this year the site housing 3-4 year olds in nearby Kelston Close, was visited by a different inspector, who says it ‘requires improvement’.
Spokesperson Matt Pritchard said staff and volunteers were disappointed and shocked by the latest inspection.
He said: “As our parent-led committee and management team haven’t changed, nor have our policies and procedures, it was quite a shock receiving a second inspection resulting in a ‘requires improvement’ rating.”
He said in order to serve as many local families as possible, the charity expanded from its Kelston Close site and rents a hall in St Nicholas – and that means under Ofsted rules it requires two inspections.
Mat said: “We felt that this second inspection was particularly disjointed and disorganised – completely different to the inspection we had had only a few months earlier.”
The committee made a formal complaint to Oftsed, which was partly upheld – but did not result in a change to the rating.
Matt said: “Ofsted apologised, however they said that this didn’t matter in regards to the overall grading requirements.
“As always, we try to continuously improve, and have begun to look at how we can make changes to our curriculum and build upon links with other settings.”
In the latest report inspector Linda Witts said the Kelston Close site required improvement in all areas. It previous rating had been ‘good’.
The inspector said children were kept safe, enjoyed their time and staff showed care and consideration, and was happy with provision for children with special educational needs or disabilities and arrangements for safeguarding.
However her report said that curriculum planning “lacks challenge” and does not build effectively on what each child knows and can do.
She said: “Children in receipt of funded one-to-one support make good progress from their starting points because of the close attention they receive from their skilled key person. However, due to weaknesses in monitoring and identifying gaps in the curriculum, not all children make the progress that they are capable of.”
Her report staff were not confident in applying recently introduced ‘in-the-moment’ planning and do not make the most of learning opportunities that arise during the course of children’s play.
The inspector also said the provider and managers do not monitor the effectiveness of the provision and curriculum well, and did not have a good oversight of what is happening in practice and the impact on children’s learning.
Phase Five launched the fundraising appeal after failing to get money to repair its Kelston Close base.
Manager Kate Smoothy said the current building was 25 to 30 years old, and rapidly falling into disrepair.
She said: “We lease land from South Glos Council in Kelston Close and own the building where our three and four year olds go. Unfortunately leasing land means we are unable to put a permanent building on site.
“We have had planning permission granted for a new semi-permanent, modular building. However being a charity do not have the funds available to build it.”
She said the committee have applied for grants, and approached South Gloucestershire Council as well as the local MP, Luke Hall, to ask for help.
Matt said the commitee has set up an online fundraising page and is planning a series of events, including a 24-hour relay by staff.
He said: “With the money raised, we hope to build a new larger building at the Kelston Close site where we can continue to offer quality childcare for children aged 2-5 years old from one setting.
“We need your help to ensure that we continue for generations to come.”
The Voice approached Oftsed about Phase Five’s concerns and they confirmed a complaint about the February inspection was partly upheld but would not comment further.
The Phase Five fundraising appeal can be found at gofund.me/67b13b7d.