Burwell pre-school where five-year-old was locked alone for two hours closes after Ofsted ruling

Read more in this week's Journal
Read more in this week's Journal

A Burwell pre-school closed its doors on Tuesday after Ofsted cancelled the owner’s registration to provide childcare.

Christine Hobbs, who had run the Spring Close Montessori for more than 13 years, also operated the village’s Wrap Around Club, where an incident in August saw a five-year-old girl left locked in the premises alone for two hours while other children and adults went to a library.

An inspector for Ofsted, which was alerted by the child’s parents, visited the Wrap Around Club and reported that ‘children were at significant risk of harm which raised concerns about the ongoing suitability of the registered provider’.

The club was subsequently closed but because of the questions raised about Mrs Hobbs, inspectors made a surprise visit to the Spring Close pre-school where it was found that ‘not all legal requirements were being met’.

A welfare requirement notice was issued listing a number of issues to be addressed – most of them connected with child safety and protection.

After a second inspection, in October, Ofsted again judged the pre-school as inadequate and ordered Mrs Hobbs to put in place procedures to ensure that people whose suitability had not been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) did not have unsupervised contact with children.

Following a subsequent monitoring visit in November, inspectors reported that many of the problems identified had been addressed. However, the report went on: “As a result of our enquiries into the incident at the Wrap Around Club, the decision was made to take steps to cancel the provider’s registration.”

Speaking to the Journal in December, Mrs Hobbs said of the inspectors: “They didn’t want to find anything right although we had already put most of what they had asked for in place.”

She said she planned to appeal but Ofsted said no appeal had been lodged.

The Journal tried to contact Mrs Hobbs on Tuesday but was told by a spokeswoman: “It’s a very emotional day for her and she’s not taking any calls.”

She said the pre-school would re-open in two to three weeks under a new name and with a new owner and manager with existing staff members kept on.