Larksfoot, a Community Interest Company (CIC) based at Leighton Hall, near Silverdale, currently provides care for 23 children aged between three and nine years old in a ‘forest school’ setting from Tuesday to Thursday during term-time.
It is Larksfoot’s first Ofsted inspection after first registering in 2021 and was carried out on January 10.
The Ofsted report identified failures in the safety provision of Larksfoot.
It says: “Children’s safety is compromised in this setting.
“This is due to leaders not ensuring that the setting is secure, to prevent unauthorised people from entering or children from leaving unsupervised.
“Furthermore, leaders have not carried out adequate risk assessments of the gate that is used to access the setting and another gate that leads onto the allotments of the hall where the setting is situated.
“Consequently, both these gates are unlocked and not secure.
“Following a recent incident, a child was able to leave the setting unsupervised.
“In response to this, leaders have put some measures in place to reduce the risk of this happening again.
“However, leaders have not carried out sufficient risk assessments or implemented adequate safety measures to ensure the premises are secure.”
The report goes on to praise some aspects of Larksfoot, emphasising the benefits of the natural, outdoor, setting.
It says: “Despite these weaknesses, children are happy in this setting.
“Children have ample opportunity to learn outside in this forest school setting.
“They get daily fresh air and exercise.
“Children enjoy taking long walks around the grounds of the hall and through the gardens and woods.
“Children confidently dress themselves in their ‘wet weather’ clothes before playing outside and remove these wet clothes and hang them to dry on their return to the yurt.
“Therefore, they develop their independence skills.”
A spokesman for Larksfoot said: “We are obviously disappointed with the report but do not believe that it paints a true reflection of the excellent childcare we provide.
“The children who come to Larksfoot experience a unique curriculum that supports their personal development and educational needs in a way that is not possible in a traditional childcare setting.
“The feedback we receive from parents is excellent and, as recognised in the report, we are ‘clearly dedicated to making every day full of adventure, learning and play’.
“Many of the actions referred to in the report as requiring attention were recognised by the leadership team prior to the visit and an action plan was developed to ensure they were rectified.
“Unfortunately, due to the Christmas holidays and the weather conditions experienced at the time, the necessary work could not be completed in time for the Ofsted visit.
“However, all of the actions in the report now been completed and based on the constructive feedback we have received, we are confident that the next Ofsted report will properly reflect the excellent childcare and unique experience we provide at Larksfoot.”