Ofsted has criticised a preschool for failing to spot if children as young as two are at risk of extremism.
Little Ducklings nursery in Hove has been downgraded by the regulator after inspectors judged that staff did not know enough about how to protect the children – aged 2 to 4 – from extreme views.
The watchdog has called on the preschool to improve staff understanding of the Prevent duty – which is a legal requirement to “prevent young people from being drawn into terrorism”.
The previously “outstanding” nursery in East Sussex has been told it requires improvement in the latest report from Ofsted – which is partly due to “wider safeguarding issues”.
“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,” the report says.
The inspectors said the nursery must “ensure all staff use the information gained through training to improve their knowledge of the ‘Prevent’ duty and wider safeguarding issues” in order to meet the requirements of the early years foundation stage and the Childcare Register.
Ofsted also criticised the preschool for “weaknesses in teaching” and missed opportunities to develop children’s language skills and their writing.
However, inspectors did also recognise that the nursery children were “happy and settled” playing both inside and outdoors and that “parents speak highly” about the care that their children receive.
A spokeswoman from the preschool’s management committee told The Argus that she was “disappointed” with the Ofsted result.
She said: “We are working closely with the early years team at the council who are supporting us to help improve our rating.
“We are also working alongside Ofsted and informing them of our plans for improvement which includes refreshing staff training on safeguarding and risk.”
Since July 2015, all education settings have had to adhere to the Prevent duty.
In 2016, nursery staff suggested referring a four-year-old to the counter-radicalisation programme after he drew a picture of a cucumber and mispronounced the word as “cooker bomb”.
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “The inspection of Little Ducklings Pre-School found a number of failings. This included variable quality of teaching, a failure to make sure all children made the progress they were capable of, and too few opportunities to develop children’s writing.
“Children’s early education is crucial for future success: that’s why where preschools are failing to teach children well it is Ofsted’s duty to highlight it.”
On improving staff understanding of how to protect young children at risk of extreme views, they added: “This is something that preschools are legally required to do and is something which we can all agree is vitally important.”
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