Hartlepool nursery is rated as ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted inspectors

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A Hartlepool nursery judged to be “inadequate” less than a year ago has moved up a grade.

Playmates II, at 55-57 Murray Street, is now graded as “requires improvement” following a visit by Ofsted inspectors in March of this year.

It was previously judged to be “outstanding” – the highest of four official marks – as recently as 2015.

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The latest report praised staff for being “consistently kind and respectful towards children” but described the quality of education as “inconsistent”.

Playmates II, in Murray Street.Photo: Frank ReidPlaymates II, in Murray Street.Photo: Frank Reid
Playmates II, in Murray Street.Photo: Frank Reid

Behaviour and attitudes at the nursery were rated as “good” although the quality of education, personal development, and leadership and management were graded as “requires improvement”.

The overall “requires improvement” mark is the third highest of four grades with “inadequate” the lowest.

The report said: “Children enjoy their time in this safe, welcoming and friendly setting.

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"All staff are consistently kind and respectful towards children.

"However, on some occasions, they provide activities without having a clear purpose for what they want the children to learn.

"That said, some staff's interactions with children are good and activities are interesting.”

Ofsted noted that staff “swiftly seek support for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities” and parents are ‘positive’ about the setting.

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It also said “significant steps” have been taken to improve the setting since last October’s inspection, with staff attending safeguarding courses.

Inspectors added that staff are positive role models who offer “regular praise and encouragement” and that children’s physical development is “well-supported”.

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However, the report also said the nursery must “ensure staff understand the curriculum intent so that all activities are tailored to individual children's needs so they can make the best possible progress”.

The report said: “The quality of education is inconsistent.

"Some staff working with children do not understand what the learning intent is for individual children or how to teach this effectively.

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"On some occasions, they provide activities without having a clear purpose for what they want the children to learn.”

Further recommendations for improvement included developing supervision sessions “to raise the quality of teaching to an even higher level” and extending “opportunities for children to express and represent their own artistic ideas and creativity in planned activities”.

Playmates II has not replied to our invitation for a comment.