A pre-school nursery has been downgraded by Ofsted, with inspectors saying staff need to do more to protect toddlers from “extreme behaviours or views”.
Little Ducklings in Hove, which cares for children aged between two and four, was listed as “outstanding” at its last inspection. It now “requires improvement”.
Ofsted identified four key areas for the nursery to improve – but listed concerns over extremism at the top.
Nurseries are legally required to protect children from ‘extreme behaviours or views’, but the watchdog has been criticised for being over-zealous.
Local councillor Dawn Barnett said of Little Ducklings: “We’re talking about kids who are still in nappies. I think it’s absolutely ludicrous.”
Parents also reacted in disbelief, with one saying: “Little Ducklings hardly strikes you as a hotbed for international terrorism”.
According to the 2 July report, children at the nursery are “happy and settled”, staff “work well with parents” and parents “speak highly about the care their children receive”.
However, as its first key finding Ofsted stated: “Although the manager and staff have reviewed some aspects of their safeguarding knowledge and updated the policies and procedures, not all staff have a secure understanding of how to protect children who may be at risk from extreme behaviours or views.”
It added that staff do not have a good enough understanding of “wider safeguarding issues relating to the ‘Prevent‘ duty”. The report also cited wider concerns about the quality of teaching and the development of “early writing skills”.
Ofsted responded saying: “The report makes absolutely no mention of radicalisation or jihadis” but protecting children from extremism “is something which we can all agree is vitally important”.
Free to disagree
Ofsted’s inspections of schools have repeatedly come under fire, with Christian and Jewish schools raising concerns about hostile inspections.
Earlier this year, The Christian Institute spoke out after the watchdog’s chief, Amanda Spielman, called for “muscular liberalism”.
Colin Hart, the Institute’s Director, said at the time he hoped Ofsted will be able to promote “the Great British tradition of liberalism” which has at its heart “the freedom to disagree”.
But, he said, “My concern is that some Ofsted inspectors will misinterpret the Chief Inspector’s call for ‘muscular liberalism’ as a call for inspectors to enforce more secularism.”