Would you be concerned about these points about preschool? Very worried.

(50 Posts)
SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 08:20:11

My son is starting a preschool tomorrow and I am prepared to accept that I'm just an anxious mum... BUT.

I have a friend whose son went there for a short while until mom has removed him from there. I know why and it makes me sick with worry. The reason was that the boy (3yo) managed to leave the building unnoticed (at busy collection time) and was taken back into preschool by somebody else's parents. Now i don't know exactly how far away he managed to wander off, I would imagine not that far but- shock shock shock
(Not to mention the fact that on his first day the boy was left to cry on his own and nobody consoled or paid attention to him - this is a fact as his dad hang around after the drop off and saw it himself).

Boy's mum (my friend) spoke to the preschool about this incident and was basically told that she should explain to her son (a 3 yo) not to go out the door and stay inside shock shock. After this mum didn't take him there anymore.

So this is what makes me so worried. Yesterday evening me and my son went out for a walk and we went to where the preschool is. I had a good look around and tbh left feeling very anxious because:
1. Outside play area has a wooden fence that is about 3.2ft high in most areas. There is a bittle bit of fence which is my son't heigth - 3ft.
2. The locking mechanism of the gates (there is 2 of them) is laughable. My son worked out how to open this type long time ago.
3. Please note that one of the gates is in the 'small' - 3ft fence and is 3ft tall as well. My son would open that in about 5 seconds if left alone.
4. There are 2 gates in the fence and in the evening they were left ajar. Now I'm not sure but somehow this seems wrong. Shoudn't they be locking the gates properly? I want to believe that having in mind the crap locking mechanism of the gates they put proper locks on them while kids are playing outside. But finding them ajar in the evening suggests no such locks exist.

Now, points above coupled with my friends experience makes me want to say 'stuff that' and not let him go there. But on the other hand I realise that I am an anxious first time mum so perhaps I am overreacting? After all, other kids go there as well and they are fine?

Am I overreacting?

EdMcDunnough Tue 04-Sep-12 08:24:39

I don't like the sound of the child left to cry alone. That is definitely not on, and as for making it the child's responsibility to stay inside - bollocks.

I would look elsewhere. I bet their standards are appalling in various respects if this is how they justify their errors.

Mine went to a preschool where there were a lot of rules and protocols that the staff had to follow, and things like this would not have happened. They just would not.

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 08:32:34

Thank you EdMcDunnough. To be honest I don't know why my friend did not go to Ofsted straight away...

I spoke to my childminder about this and she was shocked, trully shocked. But on the other hand she went to the preschool herself (many years ago) and heard good things about it so that makes me doubt my gut feeling...

Also, he starts yesterday but after initial letter to say we got a place there we haven't heard from them - is that normal? We weren't asked who will be collecting my son (as this is going to be his childminder) - so do they just let him go with whoever rocks up?... Sorry I'm ranting now but I trully feel sick with worry about this.

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 08:33:29

sorry, he starts tomorrow not yesterday...

EdMcDunnough Tue 04-Sep-12 08:35:29

Have you not been to meet the staff and look round? I was invited to do this both times. It's normal.

I would just give it a hike and look for another one tbh - sounds very lax, or lazy or just casual. You don't want a casual setting - you need proper rules I think or it will be mayhem.

Follow your gut - schools can change over time. Our primary used to be brilliant - then someone else took over and it's gone right downhill in many ways, though still one of the better ones.

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 08:38:17

We went there to look around before we applied for a place. I didn't pay much attention to the gates etc, my mistake but then it's in a nice area so I just assumed it's all fine...

EdMcDunnough Tue 04-Sep-12 08:40:17

Well, you can always try it out. It is a hassle to move once you've applied for funding/done al lthe paperwork but the only way really to know is by giving it a try.

You are free to move him whenever you like though if funded, of course that will be complicated as you might end up with nowhere till the next term, say if you moved him half way through a term.

I hope it goes alright, whatever you decide to do.

sheeplikessleep Tue 04-Sep-12 08:48:40

That would concern me too.
You have to have trust in your pre-school. Fundamentally, that's about keeping them safe first and foremost.
If I were you, I'd speak to the Manager and raise your concerns about the security. I'd take a lot from their response (i.e. "we are dealing with it / changing it to make it more secure" - happy, "it's up to the child not to go out" - not happy). How can a pre-school not take security and safety seriously anyway?!?!
Leaving a child to cry is another matter. There is always inevitable crying at pre-schools, after all there's 20 or 30 kids there. But staff should be resolving / dealing / consoling said child, not leaving them. Experience of that would totally undermine my confidence in pre-school.
There will be better pre-schools around. Things do happen - crying, scrapes and bumps, arguments, but in the nursery / pre-school DS1 attends, the staff are attentive and caring and take security seriously. There will be another pre-school out there for you, where you feel more confident.

sheeplikessleep Tue 04-Sep-12 08:50:16

BTW I've got my head around the fact that no pre-school, CM, nursery or school is ever going to be perfect. BUT the bits that aren't perfect need to be way down on your list of priorities.

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 09:04:34

Thank you Ed and sheep.

I absolutely understand that no childcare is going to be perfect. But yes, first and foremost I need to be able to trust it. I can say I trust his childminder 100% eventhough yes, bumps and scratches happen.

The fact my friend's son was left to cry while important is a lesser concern than safety issues. I'd rather someone would keep my son safe - first and foremost - and then worry if he's crying, not the other way around.

Can I ask, what is the set up in preschools you know with the gates? I've heard of others having multiple barriers where even if they can wander through one at collection they will be stopped by another barrier. This preschool has basically front door, small waiting/coat hanging area and then massive door which has to be opened at collection times. There's nothing between this and the front door - is that how it should be?..

Ofsted rates it at 3 by the way.

crackcrackcrak Tue 04-Sep-12 09:14:19

I would be really concerned about the crying and the security lapse you describe. Your child only has to be hit by a car etc once - doesn't bear thinking about and the staff obviously underestimate how serious an issue it is.

EdMcDunnough Tue 04-Sep-12 09:19:43

Where my child cried for at least half an hour each session, at the start, (we gave up after a few weeks - and I never wanted to stick it out even that long but family pressure etc etc) he was sat on the lap of his special 'person' who stayed with him at all times, holding him and comforting him and helping him engage with toys and friends.

If they had left him alone I'd have not left him there at all - I'd already spent a term staying with him for the whole session but they decided enough was enough and told me to go!!!

Leaving a child like you describe is seriously not on. That would concern me even more than the security issues tbh but I understand what you mean - better crying than injured or missing.

Ours had a two door system with someone always stood by the door, stopping each child till they were held by their parent.

The rear gates were locked at all times when the children were present but it was a building used for other things and so they would have been open on occasion.

ReallyTired Tue 04-Sep-12 09:20:39

I would go with your gut feeling. It is unacceptable for a small child to escape from pre school. The fact that the pre school does not ake responsiblity for an escapee is shocking beyond belief.

"
I spoke to my childminder about this and she was shocked, trully shocked. But on the other hand she went to the preschool herself (many years ago) and heard good things about it so that makes me doubt my gut feeling..."

I expect that the management of the pre school has changed since your childminder was there. Also pre schools in the 1970s didn't have to meet the standards of the 21st century. An outstanding pre school or school can end up in special measures very quickly if there is a change of head.

I don't you think you are over reacting.

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 09:27:03

Ok. So I think I need to start by talking to the manager of the place and go from there. Do you think I should say that I am aware of the incident where a child was left to wander off or just adress things like low/possibly unlocked gates/no barrier between front and hall door etc? Do I ask to see all the procedures and Ofsted report? Anything else you can think of that I should be asking about?

I don't want to come across as a loon but if need be I can live with that!

rockandahardplace2012 Tue 04-Sep-12 09:29:31

If you knew about this why send your son there in the first place? hmm

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 09:34:58

No, I dodn't know about this at the time of application. The friend is rather recent and I only heard her story 2 weeks ago. No way I would have applied if I had known this!

sheeplikessleep Tue 04-Sep-12 09:36:14

Spotty - our pre-school has:

Locked door to the building, which only nursery staff have keys to and is kept locked when kids are playing indoors / eating whatever.

Inner garden gate (which is locked with a high up lock if children are playing outside and therefore building door isn't locked). Whenever I turn up and the children are playing outside, I have to ring a bell, for the nursery staff to come and unlock it.

Outer garden gate is also not locked, but quite hard to push open.

sheeplikessleep Tue 04-Sep-12 09:40:03

I wouldn't mention the other incident.

I would just say you have concerns about security and why (i.e. always kept locked? no barrier etc) and give hypothetical situations.

They will be quite used to being 'risk assessed', safety is paramount, so should be able to answer questions confidently and their answer should reassure you.

I would also ask if your child cries on drop off, how do they deal with / console child?

Their ofsted report should be online. Google ofsted reports and the pre-school name. If there's anything in there that gives you more cause for concern, ask the Manager too.

rockandahardplace2012 Tue 04-Sep-12 09:46:45

Oh sorry, well if your not happy with the security I would seriously think about moving him somewhere else. I wouldnt be able to settle at home in fear of getting a phone call saying my dd been hit by a car because she got out of the gate sad

Nicechair Tue 04-Sep-12 09:56:12

I took my 5 yr old out of a school that let him walk out.
It wasn't the fact that he escaped, he is a bit of a head I. The clouds...

It was their response that made me take him out. Initially they agrEed it was terrible that he was returned to the school by my friend who rescued him
His teacher knew he was missing but then decided to sit down and have a meeting with a parent.
The after school club lady knew he was missing but didnt look for him...
They both waited where tey were to see if he would turn up...
He was 5 yrs old and out at the open gate. S
Distraught and lost.
The head teacher and head of governors thought this was acceptable behaviour and there was.no case to answer.

We sent him to another school the next term

It's paramount to keep kids physical safe.
Nothing should come above that.

I'd not send him there if you don't trust them

Nicechair Tue 04-Sep-12 09:57:43

I find it odd that I talked about it on here and most posters also thought the teacher was on to. It look for him..

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 10:06:29

Oh that's awful Nicechair shock 2 adults decided they are not bothered by the fact a 5 y/o was missing. Then another 2 adults decided there's no case to answer shock. Unbelievable.

The more I think about it the more I just want to not have him there. He got offered 3 days a week for 3 hours each day (total of 9 hrs a week) and I'm just thinking I should leave him at childminders and not bother.

What stops me is the fact that we are hoping getting into this preschool will help DS to get a place in a primary school in the same area which we like very much. I know there's no guarrantee but I see it as a bargaining chip.

In light of above though I just want to say stuff all that and make sure he is safe, don't care what school he gets into. Better safe and a different school than having something bad happen to him.

DisabilEightiesChick Tue 04-Sep-12 12:19:37

You need to feel happy and confident that your child is safe and well looked after. If that's not how you feel, then move him.

firawla Tue 04-Sep-12 12:31:19

The situation with the gates and them not caring if a child leaves the premises is not normal and not acceptable. I would look for somewhere else if thats the case.
Normally with young age groups like this the security would be very very tight, no children leaving until they are handed directly over to their parent or another adult who is named on a list as being allowed to pick them up - not just kids allowed to wander off!!!

SpottyBananas Tue 04-Sep-12 12:43:37

thank you for your posts.

The thing is I don't know if my child is going to be well looked after there as he's only starting tomorrow... I have major issues and doubts regarding safety in that place, all based on my friend's story and my observations. I know one can say things happen but to me a child wandering off seems like a 'never event' - something that should never ever be allowed to happen. Once is once too much surely? What if next time there will be no friendly adult to take them back in?...

I know that during the hours he's there I will be sitting at work all worried. Is this all worth it, for 9 hours a week? Should I just keep him at the childminders and not bother about the preschool?... He's excited to go and keeps talking about it sad I dread it.

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