Damning Ofsted for Yarmouth children centre

A day care centre for autistic youngsters faces closure if it does not improve, following a damning Ofsted report.

Smart Kids OK, in Great Yarmouth, was inspected on October 26 and a report did not find anything about it better than inadequate.

Problems at the centre, which cares for children up to eight-years-old, include a rodent trap with poison in the outdoor area, uneven surfaces, inadequate staff training which impacts on youngsters' development and poor record keeping, the report says.

It adds staff had not identified the uneven surfaces, rat trap and poison as risks, adding: 'These dangers have not been identified and pose a significant threat to children's safety.'

In her report, the lead inspector Lynn Clements said: 'Progress for children is not effectively monitored and the majority of staff lack secure knowledge and understanding of the Early Years Foundation Stage welfare, learning and development requirements.

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'This has a significant impact on their ability to successfully promote children's welfare and learning.'

She added that the Gapton Hall Road centre's manager, who is the designated safeguarding officer, 'has not completed required training for this role.'

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The centre has been set a dozen targets to meet by a final deadline of February 28.

If these are not met the centre will be removed from Ofsted's register and, due to the number of hours it is open each week, be forced to close in its current form.

But the 12 staff employed by the centre remain in place, and workers say that the parents have kept faith in them.

Andy Bane, company secretary, said: 'We have a detailed action plan in place which we're working towards with the support of Early Years development officers at the county council.

'The parents all have faith in us and we had a Christmas party on the Saturday just gone.'

Smart Kids OK, which has 88 children on its roll, had been rated as good overall and outstanding for effectiveness of partnerships when it was last inspected in October 2009.

'As far as we're concerned the care is as good as it always has been,' said Mr Bane. 'But there's more red tape now.'

He said staff were all working hard to reach the level the centre was at in 2009 and added: 'I don't know if we could stay open if we do not meet standards because of the number of hours of care that we provide.

'But the organisers' aim is to continue to provide a service.'

Smart Kids OK is run by The Autistic Way which is a registered charity.

It opened in 2001 and operates from single storey premises which have been purposely converted for use by children with special educational needs or learning difficulties, in particular those with autistic spectrum disorders.

Jacky Porter, the centre founder, did not wish to comment.

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