Langlee nursery classes ‘challenged’ by Scottish Government extra hours pilot

Langlee Primary School, Galashiels.
Langlee Primary School, Galashiels.

A Scottish Government policy to double free childcare provision has put a strain on a Borders nursery piloting the scheme.

The nursery class at Langlee Primary School has faced challenges since the pilot, to increase funded childcare hours from 600 to 1140 for all three and four-year-olds, began there last year.

Following an unannounced visit in June, the Care Inspectorate rated care and support at the nursery as good, while environment, staffing and management and leadership were labelled adequate.

Staff were found to be “committed and capable” and providing “a good level of nurturing care”.

However, inspectors found that the steep rise in the number of children attending, and the length of time they were being cared for, had caused difficulties, with lunchtimes particularly chaotic.

In the report, published last week, they said: “Providing lunch for a large number of children provided a significant organisational challenge and resulted in a poor experience for children.”

Inspectors also found that activities before and after lunch were affected, with children “disinterested” and “disruptive” during those times.

The report said: “Whilst we acknowledge that preparing to serve lunch to upwards of 50 children needs organisation, children should not be encouraged into one area to accommodate this process.”

The space allocated to the nursery – two playrooms and central area – was not working well, and inspectors said that play activities for children over three “needed to be significantly improved”.

They also found that there were not enough mats for younger children to sleep on, with some children sleeping on been bags or cushions, which was branded “unsafe”.

The report also highlighted a high number of accidents at the nursery, with senior staff asked to audit these to find any patterns in time, the type of accident or the children involved.

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said that the council had already taken “significant steps” following the care inspectorate visit, and had addressed a number of the matters raised, such as improving lunch routines.

They added: “The council takes very seriously any recommendations made during these inspections and regularly monitors progress.

“We are confident that the matters raised in the report are being addressed and additional support will be provided to ensure good progress is achieved quickly.”