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The-shocking-truth-daycare-nurseries-creches

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The-shocking-truth-daycare-nurseries-creches

Post by ROSA on 29.07.11 21:59

The shocking truth behind daycare at nurseries and creches
By Imogen Willcocks
Last updated at 08:10 06 March 2008

Britain's childcare industry is booming.
Every working day, more than a million parents drop off their precious little cargos at childminders and private nurseries.
All of them do it firm in the belief that those they trust with their babies are highly-qualified, strictly regulated and genuine, caring people.
Terrifyingly, they are wrong. During an eight-month investigation for the BBC1 investigative programme Whistleblower, I uncovered a childcare culture where a new carer's criminal records and references are never checked, yet they will immediately be left alone with young, vulnerable children.

Finding out the truth:
Reporter Imogen Willcocks
I was initially alerted to the scandal by an inspector for Ofsted (the government agency that regulates childminders and nurseries). She said that, as a parent of two children and having inspected 700 nurseries with her colleagues, she had found only five that she would have let her own children attend.
She also said that Ofsted inspection reports - the only safeguards that parents have to go on when choosing a nursery - aren't worth the paper they're printed on.
"We are literally skimming the surface," she said.
"We are told constantly: "If you don't see a problem, don't look for one. Take a quick look and get out."
"The priority for all Ofsted inspectors is to meet their targets. If they don't, they are disciplined. Targets take priority over safeguarding children."
I decided to test these claims by going undercover and getting myself a job in a number of nurseries.
I thought I would encounter difficulties since I had no children and, apart from a couple of babysitting stints, no experience of looking after babies and toddlers.
Yet I needn't have worried. None of the nurseries with which I got jobs bothered to check my fake CV or fictitious references.
Even Ofsted, which at least checked my criminal record, registered me as a childminder despite the premises where I was looking after the children not being at all suitable.
My first job was at the Buttons nursery in Ealing, West London. We'd had a tip-off that its supervision of babies and toddlers was unacceptable.
After a cursory interview, I was appointed as a nursery assistant. No one checked my references in the five weeks I was there and even though the law states that everyone working with children has to have their background checked by Home Office agency the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), the all-clear didn't come back until I had left.
Buttons is based in a rambling, 19th-century detached house and caters to the area's professional middle classes. It was not cheap, charging £1,100 a month for a child who is dropped off at 8am and collected at 6pm.
On my first day, I was terrified - partly afraid that my secret filming equipment would be discovered, but mostly because apart from a quick nappychanging lesson with a friend's baby, I had no clue how to look after children.
As it turned out, no one noticed my inexperience.
At 21, I was one of the oldest nursery assistants.
Many were trainees and had no idea what they were supposed to be doing. There was no on-the-job training. Instead, we were thrown in at the deep end.
At times I was on my own with as many as 13 children, even though the law says carers waiting for their CRB clearance should always be closely supervised at all times.
And they shouldn't be allowed to change nappies and take children to the toilet.
With so many children to look after, I could barely make sure they were safe, let alone care for them individually. Instead, it was just damage limitation - I found myself grabbing broken glass, sticks and sharp objects from children as young as three.
One day, builders were brought in to fit guards to the radiators because one little boy - weeks earlier - had badly burnt his hand on one.

The other staff told me that the owner, Satnam Parhar, had blamed the staff for not supervising the burned boy properly and that he was only getting the guards fitted because an Ofsted inspection was due

The builders left their power tools inches away from where the children were playing and no one seemed to notice.
I spent that particular session on tenterhooks.
The nursery assistants at Buttons were poorly supervised and very poorly paid. I was on about £100 a week - less than the legal minimum wage. It's hardly surprising, then, that many of the staff were less than high-quality carers.
I saw two nursery assistants hauling a boy across the nursery by his arm. Then I heard a child being called a "sh*t-bag" and saw a little girl's head being shoved into a mattress on the floor as she didn't want to go.
When I complained to the owner that I had been left on my own with 13 children, he refused to accept what I was saying and called the idea crazy.
When I contacted him later, saying I had been undercover for a TV programme, he issued a statement.
"The care and safety of our children is of utmost importance.
"New joiners to our staff undertake a full induction programme and there are procedures in place to ensure the safety of children.
"We take any allegations or criticism very seriously and will investigate these complaints and take appropriate action."
My next childcare job took me to a nursery with the worst possible history.
In April 2006, a ten-month-old girl called Georgia Hollick had choked to death on a slice of apple at the Just Learning nursery in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire.
The inquest found that her death was accidental and made no criticism of the nursery.
However, a subsequent investigation by Ofsted found that children's health and safety were being compromised at the nursery.
Nevertheless, it was allowed to reopen less than a month after her death. Just
One day, I had to stop babies eating - and potentially choking on - small Christmas decorations that a member of staff had placed in the sandpit.
It was unbelievable that just 19 months after a baby choked to death at this nursery, such chances were still being taken with child safety.

Within days of the result of my investigation being put to them, Just Learning closed the Cambourne nursery and issued a statement saying: "The company has found that its rigorous policies and procedures have been seriously breached in this case and this was one factor considered when it decided to close this nursery.
"The issues at Cambourne are isolated to this one nursery."
But this still left the question of why such a failing nursery had previously survived a very critical Ofsted report following the death of a young child in its care.
The BBC has been given an internal Ofsted document that refers to the Tory MP Michael Fallon, who was managing director of Just Learning at the time of Georgia Hollick's death.
A passage says: "If we cancel this particular setting [nursery] then there are implications for Michael Fallon as he would be automatically disqualified [from running it]."
Mr Fallon has since responded, saying: "This is news for me and a matter for Ofsted. I have had no discussions with Ofsted about the fatal accident at Cambourne.
"I resigned as MD immediately afterwards.
"I strongly endorse the decision of the Board to close the nursery. The breach of the company's procedures was completely unacceptable."
After these two nurseries, I decided to investigate the self-styled upper end of the child-minding business, where I soon realised that the problems are not confined to our own shores.
Mark Warner operates at the top of the holiday market, charging up to £8,000 for two weeks abroad for a family of four.
It makes a point of offering "award-winning" childcare.
That award-winning care didn't extend to checking my CV, contacting my references, doing a criminal records check or even asking to see some basic ID. Again, I could have been anyone.

I worked at Mark Warner's swanky Hilton resort in Dahab, Egypt, where the luxurious hotel rooms are built to resemble a traditional whitewashed Arab village.
Despite being promised two days' training at the interview, I was thrown straight in with a group of toddlers.
Once, there were two of us looking after 13 children - when Mark Warner's own regulations state there should be no more than six per adult.
When I asked about my training, the manager just said: "You don't get official training as such. It's very relaxed, very laid-back here."
This is unlikely to be the approach parents think they are paying for.

Next, I was asked to supervise the children on the beach. Again, no one had checked if I had any swimming or rescue qualifications.
Even more worrying, I had to take children out on a boat without enough safety gear for all of them. When I raised the issue with my manager, he told me to go ahead with the boat trip anyway.
Also, for such a prestigious company with an upmarket reputation, Mark Warner has a very cavalier attitude to the employment laws of the countries where it operates, and is not controlled by Ofsted.
Like many of its staff in Dahab, I was there on a tourist visa.

Mark Warner should have paid for work permits but instead had us break Egyptian law on their behalf.
We were told we should just lie and say we were there on holiday, but Egypt is not the kind of country-where you want to end up in prison.
Three weeks after I returned from Egypt, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from a Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz in Portugal made headlines around the world.
No one blamed the company or its staff for the little girl's disappearance, but given the case, I assumed the company would toughen up its vetting of nannies.
To test this out, a BBC colleague applied for a Mark Warner childcare job and was sent to an upmarket French ski resort.

Her false CV went unchecked and, months after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the company still didn't do a CRB check before she started work.
Later, I recounted my experiences to Mark Warner's managing director.
He refused to be interviewed but issued a statement that said: "It is company policy that all childcare staff employed by Mark Warner must supply two references and submit a form to check their criminal record.
"There were clearly two occasions where we failed to do this. That is completely unacceptable and we apologise.

We have now reviewed and strengthened our procedures."
For the final part of my investigation, I discovered that even an inexperienced 21-year old with no qualifications can also fool Ofsted.
I borrowed a large house, made no alterations to accommodate young children - despite the fact that no youngster had lived there for 20 years - and applied for a childminder's licence.
I admitted to the Ofsted inspector who visited that I had no fireguard, no first aid kit, no stairgates, no safety glass or socket covers. I didn't even have a table for the children to sit at.
The building was completely unsuitable.
But I did say I had a wish-list containing all those items and planned to install them. That was enough for the inspector and I got the go-ahead.
No one ever came back to check up that I had put them in place.
When contacted, Ofsted said in a statement that it would consider making improvements based on the findings that I had uncovered.
But it said: "Ours is the most intensive inspection and monitoring system in Europe. Our inspections of nurseries and childminders are rigorous and the vast majority of our inspectors are highly skilled professionals who do a good job. Ofsted is independent. We report without fear or favour."
I don't yet have children but having seen what I've seen, I can't imagine I'll ever risk putting my own into childcare.
? WHISTLEBLOWER is on BBC1 tonight at 8pm.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-526248/The-shocking-truth-daycare-nurseries-creches.html


ROSA

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Re: The-shocking-truth-daycare-nurseries-creches

Post by ROSA on 29.07.11 22:26

Three weeks after I returned from Egypt, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from a Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz in Portugal made headlines around the world.
No one blamed the company or its staff for the little girl's disappearance, but given the case, I assumed the company would toughen up its vetting of nannies.
To test this out, a BBC colleague applied for a Mark Warner childcare job and was sent to an upmarket French ski resort.
Her false CV went unchecked and, months after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the company still didn't do a CRB check before she started work.
Later, I recounted my experiences to Mark Warner's managing director.
He refused to be interviewed but issued a statement that said: "It is company policy that all childcare staff employed by Mark Warner must supply two references and submit a form to check their criminal record.
"There were clearly two occasions where we failed to do this. That is completely unacceptable and we apologise.

ROSA

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Re: The-shocking-truth-daycare-nurseries-creches

Post by lj on 30.07.11 0:58

So it's Mark Warner's fault Madeleine disappeared?

After all there is money to be made from Mark Warner.

I have no doubt they (MW) are in the market to make money and will cut cost wherever, but to name a case of clear parental negligence as example for a companies lack of thoroughness is a bit much isn't it?

____________________
"And if Madeleine had hurt herself inside the apartment, why would that be our fault?"  Gerry

http://pjga.blogspot.co.uk/?m=0

http://whatreallyhappenedtomadeleinemccann.blogspot.co.uk/

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