BOSSES at a Helensburgh nursery say they will “reset and re-train” their staff after a critical Care Inspectorate report forced the temporary closure of part of the service.

Regulators visited the Drumfork Forest School in December and announced their findings last week – grading the quality of care and support, quality of environment, quality of staffing and quality of management and leadership at the outdoor facility as “weak”.

The Advertiser previously reported that two members of staff had been suspended pending investigation following an incident at the forest school site in October.

The forest school was launched last year and is part of the wider Drumfork family centre, nursery and out of school service which was taken over by David and Roanna Wood in March 2020.

The Care Inspectorate report said: “The outdoor service is based within a local wooded area a short walk from the local community centre, where a large room has been allocated for use in inclement weather.

“At our first visit to the forest school staff did not demonstrate an ability to provide high-quality care and play experiences for children in their care. In particular there was a lack of awareness of children’s wellbeing and safety needs.

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“During our visit we had to intervene on three occasions to ensure children were safe. Staff did not ensure consistency in meeting children’s care needs.

“As a result of our inspection findings, the forest school has temporarily closed and a variation has been granted stating that from December 13, 2021 until April 4, 2022, the out of school service can operate indoors.”

For each of the criteria assessed, inspectors noted: “Whilst we identified some strengths, these were compromised by significant weaknesses.”

The report said: “We observed that on the day of our inspection the forest area had been poorly set up to empower children to actively experience play and learning challenges centred on their needs and interests.

“When children were moved to the community centre, we noted that children became much more engaged with the resources supplied.”

Highlighting “insufficient numbers of handwashing and toilet facilities”, inspectors also raised concerns around the risk assessment covering the walk to and from the forest site.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The forest school is run by the Drumfork Nursery and Family Centre based in ChurchillThe forest school is run by the Drumfork Nursery and Family Centre based in Churchill

The report added: “We observed staff were overladen with bags and equipment and were not able to respond promptly to any accidents or incidents.

“This had been factored into new procedures done since our inspection visit.”

The report stated that children were “happy, settled and well cared for” in the out of school service, which was visited separately during the inspection.

It also said that children had "positive relationships with staff" and staff "responded considerately and patiently to their conversations and questions”.

However, inspectors noted that staff were “not confident in their roles”.

The report said: “There was no clear system of leadership or delegation of tasks within the team.

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“This resulted in staff becoming distracted by housekeeping tasks at the expense of meeting children’s wellbeing and safety needs.

“Staff had undertaken qualifications relevant to their role and engaged in continuous professional learning. However, the impact of this was not translating into improved practice and good outcomes for children.”

Inspectors said further supports needed to be put in place to ensure both the nursery and family centre and the outdoor service could be managed effectively.

Mr Wood said the report was “disappointing but not surprising” given the incident last year.

He told the Advertiser that “corrective actions” had been put in place to address the issues raised, including engaging with an external forest school training company, employing a deputy manager and making “key changes to the team make up”.

He said: “We had identified most of the issues in the report prior to the visit through our own internal audit process.

"It became clear that in order for us to provide the level of care that we expect for our families and children we needed to pause operation of [the] forest school.

“This is to reset, re-train and ensure all policies and processes are understood and followed correctly by our team, and the expectations of both the management team and parents are being fully met.

“Once this has been proven the forest school will reopen. This is currently planned for February.”