Action taken over 400 childcare providers

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The Independent Online

Inspectors took formal action against nearly 400 childminders and nursery providers in the past year, Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, said yesterday.

Inspectors took formal action against nearly 400 childminders and nursery providers in the past year, Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, said yesterday.

More than 6,000 complaints were made in the watchdog's second year of policing provision, its annual report said. Of these, 1,125 involved child protection, with the most common allegations being rough handling or smacking of children.

They included children being "humiliated" through scornful language, or smacked, pushed, shaken or roughly handled in some way. Others included denying children food and drink, and - in one case - encouraging access to pornographic material on the internet.

Of the 378 enforcement actions - 11 per cent of the total caseload - there were 84 "very serious" cases where carers were stopped from looking after children and deregistered. In 49 cases, the deregistration was permanent.

Four cases involved prosecution of a child minder. In one, a childminder who had had her registration withdrawn was found to be looking after 14 children. "She did not know all their full names or have contact numbers for many of the parents," said the report. "Her home was cluttered and dirty." She was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000, and faces jail if she offends again.

David Bell, chief executive of Ofsted, said that the vast majority of the 36,000 inspections of childminders and 16,000 of daycare provision showed that standards were satisfactory or good. Of the 3,422 complaints that led to an investigation, 50 per cent needed no action.

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