Corby's Pen Green receives 'inadequate' grading from Ofsted as bosses slam 'inconsistent' Ofsted process

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This is the first time in their history that they have ever received a grade below ‘outstanding’

A flagship childcare facility in Corby has received an ‘inadequate’ rating from Ofsted for their early years provision.

The inspection at Pen Green took place on September 27 and, following the visit, mangers have made a formal complaint to Ofsted.

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This is the first time in Pen Green’s history that they have ever received a grade below ‘outstanding’. The world-renowned hub provides a range of services including a maintained nursery, early years spaces, a children’s centre and adult education.

This is the first time in Pen Green’s history that they have ever received a grade below ‘outstanding’.This is the first time in Pen Green’s history that they have ever received a grade below ‘outstanding’.
This is the first time in Pen Green’s history that they have ever received a grade below ‘outstanding’.

The early years provision was marked as inadequate in all four areas: The quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management.

According to the report, at Pen Green’s early years provision ‘children are not kept safe as staff do not consider all risks’.

The inspection report went on: “Children walk and run with objects in their mouths such as food and a pen.”

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It was also mentioned that ‘they put objects such as soil and a pom-pom in their mouths’

Inspectors said teaching is ‘inconsistent’ across the nursery which results in children receiving a different quality of education depending on which staff are caring for them’.

They added: “Some children do not have good quality learning experiences as staff who come to provide temporary cover in the childcare rooms are not given enough information about the children to provide appropriate learning opportunities. At times, children lack engagement and move between activities very quickly.”

The report also said staff at the provision ‘do not provide children with the guidance they need to help them to manage their own behaviour and understand their emotions.’

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The inspectors also noted that ‘staff are not consistent in what they expect from children which results in children purposely tipping up boxes of resources so that they fall on the floor. Staff respond by saying, 'crash', rather than explaining to children how to respect resources.’

The report highlighted that the arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.

It said: “Children are not kept safe as staff fail to identify practice that puts children at risk of choking. Leaders do not ensure that staff assess risks in the environment to make sure it is safe for children of all ages.”

The report did mention some positive aspects, particularly praising the children’s secure relationships with staff.

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It said: “Staff sing nursery rhymes with the youngest children. They make sure that children can see their facial movements and sing the rhymes at a lovely pace. This introduces the youngest children to new words and patterns of rhythm.

“Children across the nursery have secure relationships with staff. Staff provide reassurance when children are nervous of visitors. Children approach staff for comfort and are given hugs by staff when needed.”

This report comes following cuts made to Pen Green’s funding earlier this year.

Pen Green lost 70 per cent of its funding for the children’s centre and 100 per cent of funding for the integrated services they provide beyond the nursery.

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In a statement Adam Cooper, Chair of Governors at Pen Green said: “On September 27, 2023, Ofsted inspected the early years (0-3) settings at Pen Green Centre. The subsequent report states the provision is inadequate.

“Management, staff, and governors have strongly challenged the Ofsted judgement and associated report including raising a formal complaint with Ofsted. The conduct of the inspectors, their lack of understanding of early years, and unwillingness to understand the context of our children and the relationship with family workers has been both frustrating and stressful for everyone at the centre. This is not the Ofsted we would wish for or expect.

“We continue to challenge the grading of inadequate, but our focus is to prioritise the care, education, and wellbeing of our children and their families. Immediately after the inspection we began planning actions to further improve the early years provision, and we are already willing for Ofsted to reinspect the setting should they wish to do so quickly.

“We have already met with parents, and the heads and chair of governors are always available to discuss any issues they may have. We have been delighted and humbled by the overwhelming support from parents towards our hardworking and diligent staff teams. In addition, Family Workers are providing ongoing support to families making it clear what will happen next and how we continue to be dedicated to the care of their children.

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“The early years setting at Pen Green pre-dates Ofsted inspection of early years and since introduced has always been graded as outstanding until this latest inspection.

“The maintained nursey school at Pen Green was inspected by Ofsted in March 2023 by 2 HMIs and was graded as outstanding in all areas. This is with the same management team, governors, and policies as the early years setting. This shows the inconsistency of the Ofsted process.

“Pen Green is held up as an exemplar by DfE and is used to illustrate best practice in early years. Again, inconsistent with the views of this single Ofsted inspection.

“The recent inquest following the sad loss of Ruth Perry has highlighted many of the inadequacies of Ofsted and its current approach to inspections. Unfortunately for Early Years settings such as Pen Green, any changes being planned to follow this inquest will only apply to schools. Our experience during this inspection will ensure that we rigorously lobby MPs, unions, and Central Government to address the whole sector.”

‘Ofsted will be returning to the Centre in the new year to reinspect the setting and we welcome this.’

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