Pre-school in Berwick will close and it opens up on two very different Ofsted experiences

A pre-school in Tweedmouth has announced that it is going to close later this year.
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A statement issued by The Red Balloon Pre-school Group also describes its two very different experiences with recent Ofsted inspections.

It says the inspector in September 2023, who deemed the provider to be ‘inadequate’, “showed no compassion at all” and this inspection had a “very traumatic effect”,

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However, the inspector it had last month was “very compassionate and caring”. Red Balloon received a ‘good’ rating in this inspection.

The Red Balloon Pre-school Group is located in Tweedmouth.The Red Balloon Pre-school Group is located in Tweedmouth.
The Red Balloon Pre-school Group is located in Tweedmouth.

Separately to the Ofsted experiences, those in charge have decided to close its doors in July 2024.

The statement on behalf of the staff and committee of The Red Balloon Pre-school Group says: “As the needs of parents have changed over the years, low birth rates and the high cost of living – along with the pressure put on charity based committee run Early Years provisions – have mounted, so we have come to the point where we are no longer sustainable in the long term.

“The staff and committee of Red Balloon are so proud of all the hard work we have done over the last 30 years to create a safe and welcoming environment for children and families in our community, but feel it is the right time to close the Red Balloon doors for the last time in July. We would like to thank everyone who has been there to support us over all those years.”

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The inspector in September in their report criticised the leadership and management and said “the arrangements for safeguarding are not effective”.

In relation to this inspection, the Red Balloon statement says: “She (the inspector) showed no compassion at all and at the feedback session we had to ask her if she had anything positive to say about what we feel is a warm, welcoming environment for all our children to thrive in.

“After giving everything to our pre-school for nearly 30 years, to have someone come into our setting and treat us so cold-heartedly had a very traumatic effect on us all.”

The inspector who came to the pre-school, on February 2, 2024, rated all of the sections as ‘good’. These include leadership and management, the quality of education and behaviour and attitudes.

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She said the manager and her staff team at the pre-school “have worked very hard since the previous inspection and swiftly addressed the actions raised”.

In relation to this inspection, the Red Balloon statement says: “From the outset, she (the inspector) was very concerned about the staff’s well-being.

“She spent time talking to parents and was very interested in the opportunities we offer to our children to ensure they are learning and developing in all areas.

“We found this inspector very thorough, but also very compassionate and caring. On feedback at the end of the visit, we thanked her for helping us all to move on from the trauma we had suffered in September and revalidating how we felt about Ofsted and what it stands for.”

Ofsted was contacted but it said it does not comment publicly on individual providers or inspections.

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