Recent Ofsted inspection

Dear Parents and Carers,

New Ark was inspected by Ofsted on 3 March 2020. The inspector was very impressed by the quality of the provision for our children and rated us as ‘Good’ in terms of the Quality of Education provided, the Behaviour and Attitudes of our children and the opportunities we provide for our children’s Personal Development.

We are extremely proud of the hard work and commitment of Sam, Carolyn, Linda, Sarah and their talented teams; who achieved these results through delivery of such a high standard of care to our children, and work extremely hard to provide exciting and stimulating play and development opportunities. Thank you also to the parents and carers who spoke to the Inspector and provided very positive feedback.

We were bitterly disappointed however, to be rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ overall, which was solely due to an administrative misunderstanding which led to us being marked down in the area of Leadership and Management. All of our Directors completed the necessary DBS checks and Ofsted online registration documentation as required; but Ofsted returned one of the applications because we hadn’t yet registered the individual on Companies House. However Ofsted didn’t notify us that this was an issue. We subsequently registered the individual on Companies House in the belief that Ofsted had accepted their application, but Ofsted still omitted to advise us that there was any issue until the day that the inspector attended for the inspection. We rectified the issue immediately on the day of the Inspection, and have attempted to challenge Ofsted’s rating; however while the Inspector acknowledged that in all other respects New Ark’s managers and Management Committee were committed, diligent and passionate about promoting high standards, they would not revise their rating. We have asked for a re-inspection at the earliest opportunity in order that we can achieve the overall ‘Good’ rating that New Ark deserves, but are likely to have to wait up to six months for this.

Turning back to all of the positive aspects of the Inspector’s findings, I have set out below their feedback about the excellent work they observed in our pre-school;

What is it like to attend this early years setting?
Children learn and play in a safe and suitable environment. They are cared for by adults whose suitability to work with children has been verified. Children show motivation and a willingness to learn. They approach activities with enthusiasm and welcome staff’s guidance and interaction in their play.

Children are excited to visit the small farm on site and learn how to care for the animals there. They know to be gentle when they stroke and hold rabbits and guinea pigs. Children gain an understanding of recycling as they bring the food waste from the pre-school to the farm for the compost bin.

Children in the pre-school form close friendships. They greet each other enthusiastically and show kindness when others need help. For example, some children help others to zip up their coats when they struggle with the task. Children happily engage in conversation with staff and their friends. They behave well and show good awareness of the daily routines. Children respond well to positive praise from staff for their achievements.

What does the early years setting do well?

Children enjoy the company of the adults who care for them and close relationships have formed. They seek them out to look at books together in the cosy book area and easily approach staff when they need reassurance or a cuddle. Staff encourage children’s independence, such as learning to dress themselves for outdoor play.

Staff plan for children’s interests. Managers monitor children’s progress and ensure assessment is used effectively to help children make good progress. Staff are flexible in their approach and take good advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities. For example, some children sitting on blocks remark that they are taller than a member of staff. This leads to discussions about who is really the tallest and measuring themselves on a post to compare.

Children successfully use a variety of tools and materials to play creatively. For example, they use brushes to style their dolls hair at the ‘hairdressers’. Children use their hands to explore ‘gloop’. They are fascinated by the solid texture in the tray that changes to liquid as it trickles down their hand.

Staff are focused on developing children’s language and communication skills. They engage children in conversation and sing songs every day. Children are interested in books and listen intently to stories. They learn to recognise their name as they self-register on arrival and at snack time.

Children have excellent opportunities to be physically active and engage in risky play, which they learn to manage well. They climb, balance and swing with confidence on challenging physical play equipment, such as high balancing beams and bars.
Children’s progress is regularly shared with parents and they are encouraged to help further support their learning at home. For example, parents participate in a library lending book scheme to encourage reading and promote speech. They attend regular stay and play sessions. Parents comment positively that staff are warm, caring and approachable.

Children can count. They confidently write numbers on a chalk board. Children recognise shapes in their environment and can use shapes to make a pattern with sponges and paints. At snack time children are further encouraged to create a pattern with fruit for their fruit kebab.

Managers, supervisors and staff are committed to providing a quality childcare service and work well as a team. Staff engage in regular supervision meetings and their well-being is given careful consideration.

Safeguarding

The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Staff understand the procedures to follow should they have any safeguarding concerns about children in their care or the adults who care for them. This includes wider safeguarding concerns, such as the risks associated with radicalisation. They attend child protection training to ensure their knowledge and understanding is regularly refreshed. Recruitment for staff who work directly with the children are robust.

As you can see, New Ark continues to be a place where children are nurtured, supported and empowered to achieve their potential. I hope that despite the overall rating, you are reassured from the details of the inspection report that everyone at New Ark is committed to delivering a high quality learning environment where all of our children feel happy and cared for.

You can view the full report once published at the Ofsted website – go to Ofsted.gov.uk, click on Find an Inspection Report and search for New Ark Play Association. You can also look at the standards that we are measured against by typing ‘Ofsted Early Years Inspection Handbook’ into your search engine.

Jo Curphey
New Ark Play Management Committee