A failing pre-school is putting children at ‘significant risk’ because staff are not vetted.
Deanshanger Village Pre-School has been branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted - the lowest possible grading - due to failures including allowing children to drink from the same bottle.
The rating puts the pre-school in the worst seven per cent of all early-years centres in the south east.
Inspectors said it fails to let them know about staff changes so any possible criminal records cannot be checked.
The report said this poses a ‘significant risk to the safety and well-being of children and undermines trusting relationships with parents’.
But manager Bev Morris, who has run the centre since 1992, said the poor grading was because the committee did not file the paperwork.
She said: “It’s very demoralising for the staff because we work very hard.
“I’m really upset but it’s committee issues, not staffing. The whole thing came about because of the committee not getting the forms done.
“None of the children are at risk. All the staff are up-to-date with training and no staff are allowed in here without a DBS check.
”I’m cross at the situation because people will not read it as a management issue. It makes us look bad.”
Inspectors also found recruitment is lax, staff monitoring is nonexistent and children’s health is put at risk as they freely use one another’s drinking bottles.
However, Mrs Morris explained the stray bottle was being used by a ‘committee member’s child’.
The seven members of staff at the pre-school, based in a purpose-built room in the village community centre, were found to be ‘comforting and considerate’.
But its 45 children aged two, three and four, quickly become bored and restless because the daily routine does not fit their needs.
Ofsted said staff are ‘under pressure’ and do not have time to reflect on plans so sessions for children - some of whom have learning needs and disabilities.
Mrs Morris said: “We are all disappointed but we are moving forward and making sure these areas are addressed.
“If parents are worried, they can come in any time but we have adjusted and the inspectors will come out and review it again.
“We’ve got a new chairman and everyone is going on a safeguarding course. It all boils down to not handing in the paperwork.”
Ofsted graded the pre-school as ‘good’ back in 2009 but in order to move up from ‘inadequate’, it must notify the government of any staff changes within a fortnight.
It must also follow a more ‘robust recruitment and induction procedure’ and encourage a ‘culture of mutual support’ among staff.
Children must be kept from drinking each other’s bottles and be dissuaded from using them as comfort items because it inhibits their language development.