Staff speak out over troubled Swindon nursery

Swindon Advertiser: Melisa Bedwell and her son Lucas Bedwell. Lucas went missing from the Robert Le Kyng children’s centre for an hour and a half Melisa Bedwell and her son Lucas Bedwell. Lucas went missing from the Robert Le Kyng children’s centre for an hour and a half

STAFF at the stricken nursery which closed its doors after a child in their care went missing, warned its owners of fundamental problems four months before it shut down.

Robert Le Kyng nursery, part of the Headstarts group, was closed on September 16 along with nurseries at Eldene, Moredon, and Delta Business Park while under investigation from Ofsted.

And members of staff at Robert Le Kyng had brought their concerns over a lack of safeguarding and severe unprofessionalism weeks before three-year-old Lucas Bedwell went missing in June.

On May 12 a nursery worker, who does not wish to be named, submitted a formal complaint about the conduct of colleagues.

The allegations included calling one child ‘a pig’ for asking for raisins, refusing to treat wounds, and manhandling toddlers.

The letter, to senior management, said: “I have witnessed unprofessionalism and a severe void of basic understanding of childcare.

“Failing children and the trust of their parents can have huge implications I am not willing to risk.”

Lucas’ mother, Melisa Bedwell, said things had clearly not been right at the nursery for some time.

“I knew something was going on with the staff at the time,” she said. “Every time I went in there was someone new.

“Back in June I was potty training Lucas, and when I went in to the nursery I found him wearing his nappy with his pants over it. If that was the case I do not know what else was going on.

“They were being investigated, but shut down and Ofsted did not seem to come to any conclusions.”

Melisa added everyone involved with the nursery should accept some responsiblity.

“My problem was with the management,” she said. “The workers should take part of the blame as well. If they claim to look after your children they should be able to do that. It makes you think what process they go through to be able to look after young kids.

“At the end of last year we saw lots of staff change because many of them were not happy there.

“Some other parents had concerns within the nursery as well. When I look back I think of things that might have been wrong, but at the time you do not take much notice.

“Their responsibility was to look after children, and they failed. By closing down before Ofsted could report, they are not giving us the opportunity to know what went on there.

“I just hope they never open again.”

The nursery worker added: “The events of that day were very traumatic, but the nursery had problems going back a long time.

“They had a very high turnover of management, and few lasted more than a year. One of the previous managers was my NVQ tutor, and she only lasted four weeks. After a row with the owners she decided to leave.

“I resigned immediately after the incident, and two days later it had closed down. Parents did not even know how their children were being treated, and in the absence of an Ofsted report they might never know.

“While Ofsted were investigating, they came to me and asked if I had ever seen documents being destroyed or asked to lie. That was very worrying.

“This nursery never got a report from Ofsted, because the owner closed before they could complete their investigation.”

Headstarts owner Sara Vare was unavailable for comment, but her partner, Clive, has previously indicated the closures were the result of changes to the Ofsted inspection regime.

Comments (17)

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1:44pm Thu 5 Dec 13

umpcah says...

Good Job it`s closed - or so it seems !
Good Job it`s closed - or so it seems ! umpcah

1:53pm Thu 5 Dec 13

house on the hill says...

Probably just there to make money and didn't care about staff or kids like so many businesses today.
Probably just there to make money and didn't care about staff or kids like so many businesses today. house on the hill

5:59pm Thu 5 Dec 13

trolley dolley says...

If the reporting is accurate then something was not right for the owners to close before the report.

However the carers at the nursery had a duty of care towards the children and if they knew things were not right they should have reported it. Not to the management but to the local authority.

It is easy to say that the management are to blame but the front line workers are the people who are directly involved with the children and into whose care they are given.

The parents should call for a full enquiry into what has happened at the nursery.
If the reporting is accurate then something was not right for the owners to close before the report. However the carers at the nursery had a duty of care towards the children and if they knew things were not right they should have reported it. Not to the management but to the local authority. It is easy to say that the management are to blame but the front line workers are the people who are directly involved with the children and into whose care they are given. The parents should call for a full enquiry into what has happened at the nursery. trolley dolley

10:33pm Thu 5 Dec 13

Thetruthbeknown says...

It's funny that the 'front line workers' on that particular day was MANAGER's as two staff members walked out just weeks beforen the incident. These particular staff members made a series of complaints in the long run before the incident occurred each complete said that if nothing was done something bad was going to happen. Unfortunately Lucas was the bad accident.

I think the newspaper should report on the real story, not a story that has completely wrong facts and is from the Moran that was involved with part of the reason Lucas went missing.
It's funny that the 'front line workers' on that particular day was MANAGER's as two staff members walked out just weeks beforen the incident. These particular staff members made a series of complaints in the long run before the incident occurred each complete said that if nothing was done something bad was going to happen. Unfortunately Lucas was the bad accident. I think the newspaper should report on the real story, not a story that has completely wrong facts and is from the Moran that was involved with part of the reason Lucas went missing. Thetruthbeknown

11:03am Sat 7 Dec 13

marlurdesfonseca says...

I am still waiting for the full payment i made to the Nursery for the month of June that my toddler did not use.I send letters i called and nothing.Its a big lack of respect with the toddler and the parents and i deeply sad :(
I am still waiting for the full payment i made to the Nursery for the month of June that my toddler did not use.I send letters i called and nothing.Its a big lack of respect with the toddler and the parents and i deeply sad :( marlurdesfonseca

5:02pm Sat 7 Dec 13

anyopinion says...

I agree with 'trolley dolley', there should be a full enquiry into what has happened at the nursery. Parents have the right to know what was going on there. Also, the owners could potentially re-open under a different name and it is important for parents to have a full history of the childcare providers they are choosing in order to make an informed decision.
I agree with 'trolley dolley', there should be a full enquiry into what has happened at the nursery. Parents have the right to know what was going on there. Also, the owners could potentially re-open under a different name and it is important for parents to have a full history of the childcare providers they are choosing in order to make an informed decision. anyopinion

7:10pm Sat 7 Dec 13

realism_please says...

High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them.
High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them. realism_please

11:13am Sun 8 Dec 13

Ringer says...

realism_please wrote:
High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them.
High labour turnover is part and parcel of some industry sectors, it doesn't necessarily indicate that anything is 'wrong'. Bar work, nursery staff... all tend to be young, able to move jobs quickly and easily and not overly loyal (not that they should be).
[quote][p][bold]realism_please[/bold] wrote: High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them.[/p][/quote]High labour turnover is part and parcel of some industry sectors, it doesn't necessarily indicate that anything is 'wrong'. Bar work, nursery staff... all tend to be young, able to move jobs quickly and easily and not overly loyal (not that they should be). Ringer

1:19pm Sun 8 Dec 13

realism_please says...

Ringer wrote:
realism_please wrote:
High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them.
High labour turnover is part and parcel of some industry sectors, it doesn't necessarily indicate that anything is 'wrong'. Bar work, nursery staff... all tend to be young, able to move jobs quickly and easily and not overly loyal (not that they should be).
1. Seasonality aside, perhaps bar work is unattractive due to its low pay and poor (or non-existent) company-offered perks. I don't think there's a particular reason as to why it SHOULD remain to be seen (and accepted) as a high turnover job. People perhaps pick bar work as a stepping stone (or temp employment) in times where the actual job they want is unavailable. Dismissing these explicit factors and as accepting that it's simply "part and parcel" of an industry is rather short-sighted.

2. Nursery work is an extremely important job for a healthy society. There remains a massive disconnect in people regarding the criticality of a childs introduction into the world. So important is this work in these early years because that is actually where the child forms a large part of his/her ability to deal with life, further down the line. I'm talking about empathy, friendship, crime, ambition, etc. If we are to accept that nursery work is another one of those "part and parcel" high turnover jobs, we are in for many more decades of kids growing up a disadvantaged approach to life.

You have identified that high labour turnover remains prevalent in some sectors, but if you analyse the "why" you will notice that there is no good reason why they should remain to be. You are also massively underestimating the seriousness of nursery work.
[quote][p][bold]Ringer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]realism_please[/bold] wrote: High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them.[/p][/quote]High labour turnover is part and parcel of some industry sectors, it doesn't necessarily indicate that anything is 'wrong'. Bar work, nursery staff... all tend to be young, able to move jobs quickly and easily and not overly loyal (not that they should be).[/p][/quote]1. Seasonality aside, perhaps bar work is unattractive due to its low pay and poor (or non-existent) company-offered perks. I don't think there's a particular reason as to why it SHOULD remain to be seen (and accepted) as a high turnover job. People perhaps pick bar work as a stepping stone (or temp employment) in times where the actual job they want is unavailable. Dismissing these explicit factors and as accepting that it's simply "part and parcel" of an industry is rather short-sighted. 2. Nursery work is an extremely important job for a healthy society. There remains a massive disconnect in people regarding the criticality of a childs introduction into the world. So important is this work in these early years because that is actually where the child forms a large part of his/her ability to deal with life, further down the line. I'm talking about empathy, friendship, crime, ambition, etc. If we are to accept that nursery work is another one of those "part and parcel" high turnover jobs, we are in for many more decades of kids growing up a disadvantaged approach to life. You have identified that high labour turnover remains prevalent in some sectors, but if you analyse the "why" you will notice that there is no good reason why they should remain to be. You are also massively underestimating the seriousness of nursery work. realism_please

3:04pm Sun 8 Dec 13

anyopinion says...

"You are also massively underestimating the seriousness of nursery work."
...and the damaging effects that poor childcare have on young children's well being and outcome in life. Infact this is what education minister Elizabeth Truss expressed last year:
"Setting out her plans to raise standards, she warned childcare workers need fewer qualifications than those working with animals.
Miss Truss expressed concern at the ‘hair or care’ stereotype of underqualified girls going into  hairdressing or childminding.
In a bid to drive up standards, the Tory education minister will insist nursery staff must have at least a C in GCSE English and maths.
The minister said: ‘Staff in this country earn about £6.60 an hour on average, only a little above the minimum wage. This speaks volumes for how much those working in the early years have hitherto been valued.’
"You are also massively underestimating the seriousness of nursery work." ...and the damaging effects that poor childcare have on young children's well being and outcome in life. Infact this is what education minister Elizabeth Truss expressed last year: "Setting out her plans to raise standards, she warned childcare workers need fewer qualifications than those working with animals. Miss Truss expressed concern at the ‘hair or care’ stereotype of underqualified girls going into  hairdressing or childminding. In a bid to drive up standards, the Tory education minister will insist nursery staff must have at least a C in GCSE English and maths. The minister said: ‘Staff in this country earn about £6.60 an hour on average, only a little above the minimum wage. This speaks volumes for how much those working in the early years have hitherto been valued.’ anyopinion

4:37pm Sun 8 Dec 13

Ringer says...

realism_please wrote:
Ringer wrote:
realism_please wrote:
High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them.
High labour turnover is part and parcel of some industry sectors, it doesn't necessarily indicate that anything is 'wrong'. Bar work, nursery staff... all tend to be young, able to move jobs quickly and easily and not overly loyal (not that they should be).
1. Seasonality aside, perhaps bar work is unattractive due to its low pay and poor (or non-existent) company-offered perks. I don't think there's a particular reason as to why it SHOULD remain to be seen (and accepted) as a high turnover job. People perhaps pick bar work as a stepping stone (or temp employment) in times where the actual job they want is unavailable. Dismissing these explicit factors and as accepting that it's simply "part and parcel" of an industry is rather short-sighted.

2. Nursery work is an extremely important job for a healthy society. There remains a massive disconnect in people regarding the criticality of a childs introduction into the world. So important is this work in these early years because that is actually where the child forms a large part of his/her ability to deal with life, further down the line. I'm talking about empathy, friendship, crime, ambition, etc. If we are to accept that nursery work is another one of those "part and parcel" high turnover jobs, we are in for many more decades of kids growing up a disadvantaged approach to life.

You have identified that high labour turnover remains prevalent in some sectors, but if you analyse the "why" you will notice that there is no good reason why they should remain to be. You are also massively underestimating the seriousness of nursery work.
When the workforce is largely comprised of people in their late teens, it's likely it'll remain fairly transient unless you pay completely inordinate amounts of salary and provide perks that you have no need to provide.

Which, of course, no private company is going to do when there is a flood of extremely cheap labour pouring in from overseas.
[quote][p][bold]realism_please[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ringer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]realism_please[/bold] wrote: High labour turnover is always an excellent indicator that something is quite frankly fundamentally wrong. I would be interested to hear exactly how an inspection regime is capable of closing a supposedly healthy and functioning nursery, let alone a chain of them.[/p][/quote]High labour turnover is part and parcel of some industry sectors, it doesn't necessarily indicate that anything is 'wrong'. Bar work, nursery staff... all tend to be young, able to move jobs quickly and easily and not overly loyal (not that they should be).[/p][/quote]1. Seasonality aside, perhaps bar work is unattractive due to its low pay and poor (or non-existent) company-offered perks. I don't think there's a particular reason as to why it SHOULD remain to be seen (and accepted) as a high turnover job. People perhaps pick bar work as a stepping stone (or temp employment) in times where the actual job they want is unavailable. Dismissing these explicit factors and as accepting that it's simply "part and parcel" of an industry is rather short-sighted. 2. Nursery work is an extremely important job for a healthy society. There remains a massive disconnect in people regarding the criticality of a childs introduction into the world. So important is this work in these early years because that is actually where the child forms a large part of his/her ability to deal with life, further down the line. I'm talking about empathy, friendship, crime, ambition, etc. If we are to accept that nursery work is another one of those "part and parcel" high turnover jobs, we are in for many more decades of kids growing up a disadvantaged approach to life. You have identified that high labour turnover remains prevalent in some sectors, but if you analyse the "why" you will notice that there is no good reason why they should remain to be. You are also massively underestimating the seriousness of nursery work.[/p][/quote]When the workforce is largely comprised of people in their late teens, it's likely it'll remain fairly transient unless you pay completely inordinate amounts of salary and provide perks that you have no need to provide. Which, of course, no private company is going to do when there is a flood of extremely cheap labour pouring in from overseas. Ringer

12:54pm Mon 9 Dec 13

realism_please says...

Throwing money at the problem, versus re-structuring and incentivising nursery work are two different things.

We have recognised that nursery work (and career generally speaking) is under-professionalis
ed and under-valued. To close this gap, we simply need to give the role far more respect and restructure it accordingly:

1. The selection, training, development and qualification of nursery staff must improve so that it becomes re-aligned with the gravity of the work.
2. Nursery staff reward must re-align itself with point number 1.
3. Career progression must be clearly defined at each nursery.

I don't know the current business and operating models of nurseries, but quite obviously this restructure will require government leadership. I'm afraid that private nurseries, just like most others private entities aren't naturally inclined to adhere to certain social responsibilities.
Throwing money at the problem, versus re-structuring and incentivising nursery work are two different things. We have recognised that nursery work (and career generally speaking) is under-professionalis ed and under-valued. To close this gap, we simply need to give the role far more respect and restructure it accordingly: 1. The selection, training, development and qualification of nursery staff must improve so that it becomes re-aligned with the gravity of the work. 2. Nursery staff reward must re-align itself with point number 1. 3. Career progression must be clearly defined at each nursery. I don't know the current business and operating models of nurseries, but quite obviously this restructure will require government leadership. I'm afraid that private nurseries, just like most others private entities aren't naturally inclined to adhere to certain social responsibilities. realism_please

2:21pm Mon 9 Dec 13

anyopinion says...

Unfortunately these are the results of privatisation, immoral capitalism and complacent governaments combined together.....just take a look:
http://www.channel4.
com/programmes/dispa
tches/videos/all/how
-safe-is-your-childs
-nursery
http://www.channel4.
com/news/winterbourn
e-care-scandal-could
-happen-again
http://www.channel4.
com/news/nhs-cqc-cov
er-up-hospital-morec
ambe-bay-titcombe
http://www.theguardi
an.com/society/2011/
jun/15/corruption-tr
ansparency-internati
onal-study-governmen
t
Unfortunately these are the results of privatisation, immoral capitalism and complacent governaments combined together.....just take a look: http://www.channel4. com/programmes/dispa tches/videos/all/how -safe-is-your-childs -nursery http://www.channel4. com/news/winterbourn e-care-scandal-could -happen-again http://www.channel4. com/news/nhs-cqc-cov er-up-hospital-morec ambe-bay-titcombe http://www.theguardi an.com/society/2011/ jun/15/corruption-tr ansparency-internati onal-study-governmen t anyopinion

2:24pm Mon 9 Dec 13

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

anyopinion wrote:
Unfortunately these are the results of privatisation, immoral capitalism and complacent governaments combined together.....just take a look:
http://www.channel4.

com/programmes/dispa

tches/videos/all/how

-safe-is-your-childs

-nursery
http://www.channel4.

com/news/winterbourn

e-care-scandal-could

-happen-again
http://www.channel4.

com/news/nhs-cqc-cov

er-up-hospital-morec

ambe-bay-titcombe
http://www.theguardi

an.com/society/2011/

jun/15/corruption-tr

ansparency-internati

onal-study-governmen

t
Absolutely nothing to do with privatisation. Worse scandals have also taken place in public sector departments (Baby P for instance).
[quote][p][bold]anyopinion[/bold] wrote: Unfortunately these are the results of privatisation, immoral capitalism and complacent governaments combined together.....just take a look: http://www.channel4. com/programmes/dispa tches/videos/all/how -safe-is-your-childs -nursery http://www.channel4. com/news/winterbourn e-care-scandal-could -happen-again http://www.channel4. com/news/nhs-cqc-cov er-up-hospital-morec ambe-bay-titcombe http://www.theguardi an.com/society/2011/ jun/15/corruption-tr ansparency-internati onal-study-governmen t[/p][/quote]Absolutely nothing to do with privatisation. Worse scandals have also taken place in public sector departments (Baby P for instance). The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man

2:46pm Mon 9 Dec 13

anyopinion says...

To The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man ...
What do you make of this comment:
Throwing money at the problem, versus re-structuring and incentivising nursery work are two different things.

We have recognised that nursery work (and career generally speaking) is under-professionalis
ed and under-valued. To close this gap, we simply need to give the role far more respect and restructure it accordingly:

1. The selection, training, development and qualification of nursery staff must improve so that it becomes re-aligned with the gravity of the work.
2. Nursery staff reward must re-align itself with point number 1.
3. Career progression must be clearly defined at each nursery.

I don't know the current business and operating models of nurseries, but quite obviously this restructure will require government leadership. I'm afraid that private nurseries, just like most others private entities aren't naturally inclined to adhere to certain social responsibilities.

What would you suggest then?
To The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man ... What do you make of this comment: Throwing money at the problem, versus re-structuring and incentivising nursery work are two different things. We have recognised that nursery work (and career generally speaking) is under-professionalis ed and under-valued. To close this gap, we simply need to give the role far more respect and restructure it accordingly: 1. The selection, training, development and qualification of nursery staff must improve so that it becomes re-aligned with the gravity of the work. 2. Nursery staff reward must re-align itself with point number 1. 3. Career progression must be clearly defined at each nursery. I don't know the current business and operating models of nurseries, but quite obviously this restructure will require government leadership. I'm afraid that private nurseries, just like most others private entities aren't naturally inclined to adhere to certain social responsibilities. What would you suggest then? anyopinion

3:15pm Mon 9 Dec 13

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

Lots of separate questions, I'm not sure what you're asking actually and I have not much experience in this area beyond being a parent. However I will try to answer with my own opinion.

If you're asking me "do I think that nursery workers should be paid more", as seems to be the crux of your argument, then the answer is clearly no. Paying them more won't make them any more qualified. To become a trainee nursery worker you need very little in the way of qualifications. Although there are qualifications that can be earned this will not alter the fact that most nurseries simply do not need everyone to be fully qualified and would be a needless additional cost.

Career progression seems as clear or better to me that is is on many other career choices - what do you feel is lacking and why do you feel it is up to the nursery to provide your career path for you?

Do I think that nurseries should be more tightly regulated? Possibly, although I don't know all the facts to make a qualified judgement. I do however think that nursery managers should be held to account, possibly with criminal (jail time) proceedings taken for things like this that happen under their tutelage. Perhaps then they may take more of an interest in the things happening as a result of their management actions?
Lots of separate questions, I'm not sure what you're asking actually and I have not much experience in this area beyond being a parent. However I will try to answer with my own opinion. If you're asking me "do I think that nursery workers should be paid more", as seems to be the crux of your argument, then the answer is clearly no. Paying them more won't make them any more qualified. To become a trainee nursery worker you need very little in the way of qualifications. Although there are qualifications that can be earned this will not alter the fact that most nurseries simply do not need everyone to be fully qualified and would be a needless additional cost. Career progression seems as clear or better to me that is is on many other career choices - what do you feel is lacking and why do you feel it is up to the nursery to provide your career path for you? Do I think that nurseries should be more tightly regulated? Possibly, although I don't know all the facts to make a qualified judgement. I do however think that nursery managers should be held to account, possibly with criminal (jail time) proceedings taken for things like this that happen under their tutelage. Perhaps then they may take more of an interest in the things happening as a result of their management actions? The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man

5:08pm Mon 9 Dec 13

anyopinion says...

I do agree that someone should be held responsible for the wrongdoings in any business, but its too easy for company owners to blame their managers, ultimately the owners are responsible for how their businesses are run and must take more of an interest, not just the monetary profits, especially when they are dealing with human beings.
To go back to the matter of this article, the owners clearly kept ignoring all the alarm bells and signs that something was quite wrong with their business therefore should not shy away from their responsibility!
As a parent of young children myself, I would expect more transparency when searching for a nursery. How else can I be sure that a brand new nursery hasn't got a hidden history of failings?
I do agree that someone should be held responsible for the wrongdoings in any business, but its too easy for company owners to blame their managers, ultimately the owners are responsible for how their businesses are run and must take more of an interest, not just the monetary profits, especially when they are dealing with human beings. To go back to the matter of this article, the owners clearly kept ignoring all the alarm bells and signs that something was quite wrong with their business therefore should not shy away from their responsibility! As a parent of young children myself, I would expect more transparency when searching for a nursery. How else can I be sure that a brand new nursery hasn't got a hidden history of failings? anyopinion

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