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‘Heartbroken’ parents dispute critical report which led to Highland nursery closure

Country Bumpkins near Inverness closed on Monday ahead of the damning report's publication - but one mum describes it as a "dream nursery"

Country Bumpkins Nursery Liquidators
Country Bumpkins Nursery faced difficulties in the build-up to its closure. Image: Google Maps

The Care Inspectorate has been criticised by parents following the shock closure of a nursery in Ardersier.

Parents have issued formal complaints to the Care Inspectorate over its report on Country Bumpkins nursery in Ardersier, saying it “failed on so many levels”.

The Highland nursery told parents on Sunday afternoon that it wouldn’t open its doors on Monday due to a staffing crisis.

However, it then emerged the closure came ahead of a critical report from the Care Inspectorate.

Since the announcement, parents have come out with high praise for the staff and are now questioning the inspectors and their results.

‘Unfair criticism’ in Highland nursery report

One parent says bodies like the Care Inspectorate are “making it impossible for child care facilities to exist”.

She said: “I’ve put in formal complaints because I think the report is wrong, not the nursery.

“It failed to capture what the requirements of a nursery really are, completely missing the amazing things on offer.

“It looks like it was written by someone who doesn’t have children or has forgotten what it was to be one, or worse – both.”

Inspectors visited unannounced last month  and gave the key elements of care a rating of either weak or unsatisfactory.

In the report, Country Bumpkins was rated 2/6 for its care, play and learning; setting; and staff team. It received the poorest rating of 1/6 for its leadership.

The mum, who moved to Ardersier because of the nursery’s good reputation, said: “How did what they saw equate to scores of one and two?

“My concern is that last time it scored fours and fives, how can the nursery drop so much from that?

“I’d expect one to be akin to a prison. Untrained staff, children’s lives in danger – and that’s not the case.

“The government has come in with these insane procedures that make it so difficult for nurseries to run.

“It was an outdoor nursery. No parents expected mollycoddling and children having their hand held everywhere.”

Nursery positives

The inspectors found a lack of consistency regarding the administration of medicine, dirty outdoor equipment and inadequate nappy changing facilities.

They were “very concerned” about the care provided and found major issues with management including proper staff checks not completed.

However, the mum said that she “felt great” dropping her daughter off at the nursery, with a special bond between the kids and staff.

She said: “I had an incredible experience.

“You weren’t just leaving them there to go to work. You left them there and they had a way better time than they would have even if you didn’t work.

“They offered a beach school and a forest school, they did all sorts like wildlife learning and made food with a campfire.

“The report doesn’t go into any of the extras they did. It was outside of the box and that certainly shouldn’t make the nursery bad.”

The Ardersier nursery announced its shock closure on Sunday. Image: Google Maps

The mum said that the lack of childcare has become a big issue and that something needs to change in order for private nurseries to get more support from governing bodies.

“Now we’re desperately scrambling around for something that comes anywhere close to what Country Bumpkins offered.

“We won’t find it. It was the dream nursery.”

Care Inspectorate statement on Highland nursery

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said the Highland nursery had several areas which required improvement.

The spokesperson said: “A recent inspection of this nursery identified some areas of care which needed to improve so that children experienced the quality of care that they, their families and carers have a right to expect.

“We offered support to the service to help them achieve and sustain the improvements we required.

“However, the Care Inspectorate was notified by the care provider on 12 June 2023 of their decision to cancel their registration with us and close their nursery with immediate effect.

“We understand this is a difficult time for families whose children attended the service.

“Every child in Scotland has the right to good quality care which meets their needs and respects their rights.”