Commotion in a nursery

May 30th, 2013

On 3 February 2011 at Cambridge Day Nursery an incident occurred: there was a period of about five minutes when at least eight pre-school children in one of the nursery rooms were left with only one member of staff.  That member of staff had to concentrate on comforting and calming an upset child, meaning there was no one else to look after the other children. In the words of the judge, “a commotion ensued”.  Quite how closely the scene resembled one from Kindergarten Cop is unknown as the judge did not elaborate further.

Any similarities with the film ended there though, as instead of a subsequent sequence of hilarious and touching scenes in which order is restored, the prosaic reality of modern life took its course with a complaint to Ofsted, an inspection, the issuing of a non-statutory Notice to Improve and then litigation in the Administrative Court.  The nursery obtained an interim injunction preventing Ofsted from publishing on its website a summary of the case (as is its normal practice where it issues a Notice to Improve) and brought a claim for judicial review.

On 9 May 2013 the High Court discharged the injunction and dismissed the claim, holding that the decision to issue the Notice to Improve was lawful and the proposed summary to be published on the website was neither unnecessary nor disproportionate.  The judge (James Goudie QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge) concluded his judgment as follows:

[P]arents should be entitled to make fully informed decisions about the childcare provision that they choose for their children.  To withhold information from them about a provider’s non-compliance with its legal requirements would be to disregard their interests in favour of the commercial concerns of the provider.  That would be wrong.

To read the judgment in Cambridge Associates in Management v Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools in England (Ofsted) [2013] EWHC 1157 (Admin) click here.  If you don’t get the reference to Kindergarten Cop, click here.

Paul Greatorex

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