A nursery where children were at risk of drinking bubble solution and from choking hazards has been ordered to make a series of improvements after inspectors deemed it "inadequate".

The Ofsted team visited Busy Bees Day Nursery in Altrincham in March and gave it the thumbs down across all categories of assessment, including quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

At its previous inspection it was said to be "good".

The report said: “Staff do not consider potential risks, such as children drinking the contents [of bubble solution] or that these pose a choking hazard due to very small parts.

"This places children at significant risk of harm.”

It said the provider had not ensured that the newly appointed manager had the time and resources she needed to ensure the safe and effective running of the setting.

“Staff do not get the support they need to understand their individual roles and responsibilities or to improve their practice,” it continued.

“As a result, the quality of care and education practice is weak. Children are exposed to undue risk in the environment.

“This is because staff do not implement the setting’s procedures for risk assessment well enough.”

The report said that required staff qualifications and ratio requirements are not always maintained and that staff are not deployed well.

It went on: “As a result, there are times when the children’s needs are not met and accidents to children occur due to a lack of supervision.”

Interactions with children are poor, it said, and do not support their emotional wellbeing or challenge their current level of learning.

“Children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and those who receive early years funding, do not make the progress they are capable of,” it said.

“The provider does not ensure there are always enough qualified staff on site and available to work with children.

“On the day of inspection, the high numbers of unqualified staff and poor deployment of staff resulted in children’s care and educational needs not being met.

“For example, babies were unsettled for long periods of time because the only member of staff who knew them well was deployed to do kitchen work.”

It said that despite risk assessment being carried out in all rooms, staff failed to notice and remove risks in the environment.

For example, staff plug in appliances such as a music centre and leave the wires trailing.

“These are within easy reach of the children and place them at risk of harm,” it continued. “In addition, despite knowing that some children still take everything in their mouths, staff open tiny bottles of bubble mixture for children to play with unsupervised. 

“Staff do not consider the potential risks, such as children drinking the contents or that these pose a choking hazard due to very small parts. This places children at significant risk of harm.”

The report said that leaders and longer serving members of staff have a secure knowledge of all children protection and safeguarding, but that new staff and those providing cover on a short-term basis, such as agency staff, do not.

“This includes what they need to do should they have a concern about a colleague they work with,” it said.

“This places children at risk of harm. Staff do not take all the necessary steps to ensure children’s health and safety.”

However, it said that despite these weaknesses, recruitment and vetting arrangements are robust and unsure that children are cared for by suitable adults.

Inspectors gave the nursery a list of improvements to be made by March 31. These were:

To ensure all staff have a secure understanding of their roles and responsibilities for children protection and safeguarding, including allegations management.

To ensure staff robustly implement the procedures for risk assessment to identify and remove all potential risks. 

To ensure that there are enough staff working directly with the children to provide adequate supervision to meet their care and learning needs.

To ensure there are enough qualified staff to meet the minimum staff-to-child ratio requirements.

To ensure all staff manage children’s behaviour in an appropriate way to help them understand right and wrong and how their actions may affect others.

To implement an effective key-person system that meets the needs of all children and keeps parents informed of any changes.

To ensure staff undertake training and professional development opportunities to enable them to provide all children with a road and well-sequenced curriculum that supports children’s progress.

To ensure all staff have thorough induction and that ll staff receive regular coaching and supervision to help them fulfil the responsibilities of their roles, improve their practice and strengthen their teaching skills.

To ensure children always have access to toilet rolls, so they can independently manage their own personal hygiene needs.

The Staffordshire-based company which runs  Busy Bees Nurseries says it is very disappointed with the overall outcome but said an action plan was immediately put in place to address the points raised by the inspection team. 

A spokesperson said that during the inspection Ofsted looked at practice in the nursery and spoke to both parents and the staff team.

“Whilst the feedback from parents was good we accept there were areas where improvement was needed,” they said.

“A team from Busy Bees National Support Centre has been working with staff at the nursery providing training and support ensuring we meet the standards expected of us.

“The management team has been strengthened and significant progress has been made in key areas around quality, operational practice and safety.”

Operations director Chris Coxhead said: “We acknowledge that there were areas found during the inspection where we could do better, however immediately following the visit we took action to address all the points identified by the inspectors.

“The care of children in our nursery is at the heart of all we do and we apologise to parents and children for letting them down on this occasion.

“Our staff team at Altrincham are working really hard and we are keeping parents up to date with all the steps we are taking and the progress that is being made at the nursery. We are committed to providing the best possible experience for both children and parents and I am sure there will be a much-improved outcome when Ofsted return.”