We have been looking at the nursery ratings for childcare facilities across the north and north-east.
The Care Inspectorate, the watchdog for care services, uses a six-point evaluation scale with excellent being a six.
The majority of the ratings for childcare premises across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands in December are mostly very good or good.
Whether your precious little one is off to nursery or a childminder it is important to know how the watchdog rates them.
We have gathered all of December’s reports from the Care Inspectorate for the north and north-east into one list.
Did your local nursery feature? And what did the inspectors think of it?
Tiny Oaks, Ardnamurchan
Tiny Oaks Childcare is based in Kentra, Ardnamurchan peninsula and can look after a maximum of six children under the age of 16.
It is operated by Tracy Cameron from her home with the youngsters given access to a playroom, kitchen and garden.
Officials from the Care Inspectorate visited the childminder on November 30 with the quality of care, environment and management rated as very good.
One parent praised the childminder and said it was a “home away from home” for their child.
Another said: “Our child has spent a lot of his life in lockdown, so having Tracy there to help him to learn more about play, teamwork, being kind to others kids and making up for all the time he has missed being around other kids has been amazing.”
The Care Inspectorate report said: “The childminder provided a service of a very high standard which promoted positive outcomes for all children.
“She was committed to the ongoing development of her service to ensure that she continued to meet the changing needs of the children in her care.
“We saw the childminder being very caring and nurturing with the children. We were able to observe the children being fully engaged in a range of activities. The children were able to freely select what it was they wished to do.”
Hilary Bradshaw, Elgin
Elgin-based childminder Hilary Bradshaw can care for up to six children under the age 16 and is based at her own home.
Officials from the Care Inspectorate carried out a visit on October 28 last year and subsequently graded the quality of care and environment as very good with the quality of management given a good rating.
The watchdog said that parents told them they were “satisfied” with the communication from the childminder and “always felt listened to.”
Youngsters also had a “healthy balance” of indoor and outdoor play with a number of different activities available to them.
The Care Inspectorate report praised the childminder for the quality of the service and the positive relationships with parents.
It said: “The childminder provided a stimulating, warm, nurturing service; they knew the children well and provided experiences that supported children’s individual needs and development.
“The childminder had established positive relationships with parents. Communication was open and meaningful so that families shared in their child’s care and development.”
Jane Pryor, Newburgh
Childminder Jane Pryor is based in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire and the Care Inspectorate visited her home on September 14 last year.
The service has been registered with the watchdog since 2019 and can cater for a maximum of six children under the age of 16.
Care Inspectorate officials rated the quality of care, environment and management as good.
Parents praised the childminder for her communication and one said they were “very happy” with the care being given to their child.
Another parent said: “There are a variety of experiences and activities offered that are relevant to age, needs and interests.
“At pick up and through WhatsApp Jane is in contact often with child’s progress, updates and any additional information. If any urgent problems she will also phone to let us know.”
The Care Inspectorate praised the childminder for the way she was with the children.
It said: “Children in the service were provided with good care and support. The childminder was caring and nurturing with the children, which helped them to feel secure and included within the setting.
“The childminder interacted with the child, playing on the floor. The children enjoyed a range of experiences with the childminder that were age-appropriate. The childminder interacted with smiles and lots of conversation when supporting children with their personal care.”
Stornoway Primary School Nursery
Stornaway Primary School Nursery is operated by Western Isles Council with officials from the Care Inspectorate visiting in November.
The nursery has its own purpose-built facility with three playrooms with one of those being a “Gaelic Medium immersion environment.”
Children attending also have access to primary school facilities like the gym, dining hall and playing fields.
The Care Inspectorate’s unannounced inspection began on November 15 with feedback given virtually two days later.
It subsequently rated the quality of care and staffing as very good with the quality of environment and management rated as good.
One parent praised the way staff have handled operating during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
They said: “Communication from management has been excellent throughout the pandemic. I think the nursery staff have coped admirably in the last 19 months and should be applauded for their resilience, commitment, and end to end care.”
The Care Inspectorate report said the nursery had a “welcoming” atmosphere and that both the children and their families felt “nurtured and respected.”
It said: “The nursery had created a welcoming ethos where children and their families felt nurtured and respected.
“We observed that children had formed positive relationships with staff where there was lots of affection and praise; as a result children were happy and settled.
“Staff conversations with parents both remotely and at drop off and pick up times were friendly and respectful.”
Frieda Taylor, Aberdeen
The childminder operates the service from her own home in the West End of Aberdeen with children having access to a playroom, living room and conservatory with patio doors leading to a fully enclosed garden.
Officials from the Care Inspectorate completed their unannounced visit on October 1 and made two recommendations.
The watchdog graded the quality of staffing and environment as good with the quality of care and management rated as adequate.
The inspection report said there was a “secure, clean and homely environment” for children using the service.
However, officials made two recommendations with the childminder being asked to improve the toys available to older children.
Inspectors also pointed out websites and other information available to develop the childminder’s knowledge of “best practice guidance.”
The inspection report said the childminder was committed to improving the service.
It said: “The childminder was committed to providing a good service which met the needs of the children and families in her care.
“She was keen to focus on how to improve. She had completed a large amount of online training modules supporting her in her role as a foster parent and a childminder. She had completed core training, such as food hygiene and infection control, which supported her everyday work with children.”
Loirston School Nursery, Aberdeen
Officials from the Care Inspectorate visited Loirston School Nursery in Cove on November 16.
It is operated by Aberdeen City Council and provides care for up to 60 children and is part of the primary school.
The nursery’s quality of care, staffing and management were all rated as very good with the quality of environment graded as good.
The Care Inspectorate report said officials were happy with the coronavirus protection measures carried out by staff.
It said: “We were satisfied that the service had appropriate infection control procedures in place to support a safe environment for children and staff.
“Free flow outdoor play was in place, helping to keep everyone safe and well. Staff adhered to physical distancing guidance when working with the children and at break times, helping to reduce the risk of infection.”
Janet MacIver Childminding, Lewis
The service is operated from the childminder’s home with children having access to a designated playroom, living room and kitchen.
Officials from the Care Inspectorate carried an unannounced visit and rated the quality of care, environment and management as good.
The childminder said she aims to work alongside parents to offer “as reliable and individual service as possible” with each child treated with “respect and dignity.”
The subsequent Care Inspectorate report said the childminder worked closely with parents to replicate their home routines.
It said: “We observed, and parents confirmed, that children experienced warmth, and kindness in how they were cared for by the childminder.
“The childminder had asked parents to complete registration forms with information about children’s home routines and ensured that these were followed within her service, for example nap times and potty training.”
The Playbarn, Dornoch
The Playbarn is based on the grounds of Skibo Castle and cares for up to 30 children from birth up until the age of 16.
The nursery offers a large playroom, a further smaller room which is used as a ‘chill out zone’ for the older children, a sleep room for younger children, toilets and a kitchen.
Following the unannounced inspection on November 1 the quality of environment was rated as very good with the quality of staffing, care and management graded as good.
The Care Inspectorate said the children there on the day were “very happy and relaxed” with the staff and there was a “good rapport” between them.
The inspection report praised what was on offer for children.
It said: “The service made very good use of the space available to them. Both the indoor and outdoor environments offered a very good range of resources and activities which were appropriate for the age range of children who attended.
“Children were able to independently select resources and were able to direct their own play and activities in a way that they chose.”
The Magic Roundabout Childcare Centre, Elgin
The Magic Roundabout Childcare Centre was praised by the Care Inspectorate following an unannounced visit on November 3.
Its quality of care, environment, staffing and management were all rated as very good.
The centre has been registered with the Care Inspectorate since 2020 and can look after a maximum of 40 children from the age of three up to primary school age.
Children attending the centre told the Care Inspectorate officials they had been making brooms when the visit was carried out and they also enjoyed making mud pies.
Parents also praised the service with one saying: “They are doing a great job especially through Covid-19 and have made a real effort to support the children.”
The subsequent Care Inspectorate report said staff had helped children enjoy themselves while at the centre.
It said: “Parents told us they felt their child was thriving and really loved attending which they attributed to the attentive and nurturing approach of the staff.
“They appreciated the friendly and receptive approach of the staff that helped them to work together to support their child.”
Dyce School Nursery, Aberdeen
Dyce School Nursery is operated by Aberdeen City Council and provides daycare for up to 67 children.
An unannounced inspection was carried out by the Care Inspectorate on September 16 and its quality of care, environment and staff were rated as good.
The quality of management was graded as very good.
Children at the nursery also spoke to inspectors on the day telling them about some of the activities they were involved with.
Comments included: “We’re making a Jurassic Park for the dinosaurs,” and “I’m playing in the mud kitchen making a watermelon drink.”
Inspectors also spoke to parents over the phone who were happy with the service although some raised issues with the food provided for lunch and a lack of communication.
Bosses at the nursery said they would look at ways to improve these areas.
The Care Inspectorate made two recommendations to update personal plans and staff should carry out observations to assess the children’s development.
The inspection report said that the children attending the nursery were content and were playing outside during the visit.
It said: “Children were settled, confident and happy, with most of them choosing to spend time in the outdoors environment.
“Staff were nurturing, kind and caring towards the children. This supported the children to feel safe, secure, and respected. Each child had a key worker who knew the children well. They were able to tell us about the children’s personalities, what they enjoyed, and any support needed.”