The Care Inspectorate has called for significant and speedy improvements at an outdoor nursery in Moray.
They have told bosses and staff at Stramash in Elgin they must put in place “robust safer recruitment policies and procedures”.
The watchdog also graded the quality of management and leadership as “weak”, while the quality of staffing, environment and care and support was classed as “adequate”.
The nursery, operated by Stramash Social Enterprise, is registered to provide care to a maximum of 32 children.
In their recommendations, following an unannounced visit, the inspectors state: “By March 31, 2020, the service provider must demonstrate to the Care Inspectorate that they have robust safer recruitment policies and procedures embedded into their practice that follow and are in line with current legislation on protecting vulnerable groups.
“Staff should undertake training to refresh their knowledge and understanding of child protection.”
They did note that staff recognised the service was “currently falling below the standards expected in relation to safer recruitment”.
The report added: “Since the last inspection, significant changes had been made to their setting.
“This had been done without consulting with ourselves or environmental health who we highlighted as a source of advice.
“They were no longer using the site at Badger’s wood and two cabins had been erected on the field at the village hall, which were being used as a space for children to play and for nappy changing.
“Management and staff acknowledge work had to be done to improve both cabins.
“The floors in both cabins were covered in mud which posed the risk of the spread of infection.”
The inspectors recommended improvements in these areas but also praised a number of elements about the nursery.
They said: “Staff understood the positive impact of outdoor play on children’s development and learning and the importance to giving children the time and space to develop their ideas, flourish and be creative.
“They were working hard to provide an environment that inspired children to follow their curiosity, be inventive, solve problems, make sense of the world and have fun.”
Meanwhile, two Highland schools – Fortrose Academy and Noss Primary and Nursery in Wick – were given positive reports from Education Scotland inspectors.
At Fortrose, they praised “the calm and purposeful environment for learning which is resulting in young people working very well independently”.
They added that the “highly effective use of digital technology” was enhancing learning experiences.
Inspectors identified some areas for improvement, asking staff to “ensure learning across the curriculum, particularly from S1 to S3, takes better account of what young people already know through an integrated approach to learning, teaching, assessment and moderation”.
In relation to Noss school, inspectors found children to be “polite, friendly and eager to learn”, adding there was “caring and supportive relationships between adults and children in the school and nursery”.
Regarding areas for improvement, they said the school should “develop further how staff in the school and nursery practitioners assess children’s progress and use the information more effectively to plan children’s learning.
It has also been told to continue to raise children’s attainment in the school, particularly in regard to literacy.