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Education / Councillors hear about nursery and school inspection reports

ACTION plans have been drawn up for two Shetland nurseries after inspection reports highlighted some areas of improvement.

They are the Lerwick Early Learning and Childcare facility and the Whalsay nursery.

Meanwhile no recommendations or requirements have been issued for the Scalloway Nursery following an inspection.

Shetland Islands Council (SIC) leader Emma Macdonald said it was important to recognise that all nurseries provide “really good care”.

Inspectors noted a range of strengths at the Lerwick setting, including interactions between staff and children, and the responsiveness of staff to the needs of bairns.

There were four areas of improvement, including developing the use of personal plans and ensuring children are safe and secure whilst accessing outdoor play.

Three of the areas of improvement are a continuation from the last report from June 2022.

An action plan has been created, with support from SIC staff as well as engagement in the Care Inspectorate’s ELC childcare improvement programme.

It was given three ‘3’ ratings (adequate) and a four (good).

Meanwhile at the Whalsay nursery inspectors said staff were kind and caring towards children, with bairns benefitting from a good playroom with direct access to the outdoors.

The Care Inspectorate issued a requirement around ensuring children are cared for in a safe environment, which has been acted on.

There was also an area of improvement identified, on the manager ensuring staff understand their role within play.

It was given three ‘3’ ratings and a two (weak).

Meanwhile Scalloway Nursery was also inspected recently, and it was given two five ratings (very good) and two four grades (good).

Inspectors noted strengths such as staff supporting children with “warm, caring and nurturing approaches”, and a welcoming and comfortable environment.

SIC education and learning manager Samantha Flaws said it was important to note it was the first time had been inspections in the three settings since the national expansion of funded ELC hours.

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She also reiterated the support in place for staff in terms of improvement.

Flaws highlighted how inspections happen unannounced which can be stressful for staff.

She added that with inspectors having a short time period to view a setting, sometimes they can visit on a day where staff may be having a tough day given the unpredictable nature of childcare.

Flaws said this is sometimes reflected in the grades.

Inspection results for Bell’s Brae Primary School in Lerwick have also been released.

It was given two ‘good’ ratings for the nursery and one ‘good’ and one ‘satisfactory’ for the primary.

Inspectors found a number of strengths, including clear, strategic leadership, the school’s approach to teaching writing and strong teamwork within the nursery.

Three areas of improvement were identified, including teachers making sure that every child learns at a pace suitable to them, and staff ensuring they continue to develop the use of data to identify gaps in learning.

Overall the inspection team was confident that the school has capacity to continue to improve and no more visits will be made in connection with the inspection.

Flaws said the “school feels confident that they are delivering against all areas of the curriculum”, although there was an acknowledgement there is more that can be done on interdisciplinary and topic work.

During questions Lerwick South councillor Neil Pearson said there had been a “daisy chain” of teachers at Bell’s Brae standing in as headteacher during a recent recruitment campaign for the top job.

He said the parent council had “significant concerns” about this.

The meeting heard that a preferred candidate for the job is now in place.

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