Six out of ten nurseries and childminders fail basic test

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The Independent Online

Childminders and day-care nurseries are to have a three-star rating system after a report showed only four out of 10 reached basic standards.

Childminders and day-care nurseries are to have a three-star rating system after a report showed only four out of 10 reached basic standards.

The 100,000 childminders and day nurseries in England will be rated "good", "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" under the system from Ofsted, the education watchdog. From October, parents will be able to check inspection reports on the internet.

Ofsted took over inspections of all under-fives services in England from local authorities in September 2001. On the first visit, inspectors found that 40 per cent of childminders and nurseries failed to come up to scratch. A total of 220 were so bad they were rejected from the carers' register.

Of those that were ordered to improve, more than 38,000 or 28 per cent were told to upgrade safety standards.

There were health concerns about 22,000 childminders and nurseries, ranging from the risk from pets or animals to inadequate procedures for administering medicines. In 12 per cent of cases the provider was considered not suitable - in most cases because of a lack of qualifications - but in a few cases there had been a history of violence. The new rankings will be carried out by inspectors within the next two years under a new £68m inspection regime.

David Bell, the chief executive of Ofsted, said the star system would give parents the information they needed to make "informed choices".

In its inspections, Ofsted checks whether childminders and nurseries meet 14 basic criteria - such as the suitability of the person to act as a childminder and the physical condition of the premises.

But the organisation also investigates complaints. In 345 cases, Ofsted suspended childcare providers for a year. In 175 cases, it closed them down.

In one case, a mother running a daycare centre for up to 30 children left two unqualified teenagers in charge. It was immediately closed. Ofsted also said that in 27 cases it sought emergency orders from magistrates to close a provider or order improvements.

It has investigated 10,500 complaints, half of which needed no further action. Only 0.2 per cent which failed on the first visit failed to improve enough to satisfy inspectors.

Further report, page 2

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