AN after-school club for children with learning difficulties has been closed down after it failed to report an abuse allegation, according to Ofsted.
The education watchdog said The Guideposts Trust, based at Abingdon’s Kingfisher School, also had unchecked staff working unsupervised with children.
A mother who sent her daughter to the after-school club said she was “angry and frustrated” after discovering the findings.
In a critical report, inspector Melissa Cox said the manager at the time lacked suitable qualifications for the post.
Ofsted suspended the trust’s registration “due to the number of serious concerns” which it claimed put children at risk of harm. Since then the trust and Oxfordshire County Council agreed the service would close.
In the report Ms Cox said: “The provider has failed to notify Ofsted of an allegation of abuse within prescribed timescales.
“They have not followed the correct procedure of reporting this concern to the Local Authority Designated Officer.
“The provider investigated the concern themselves, which does not follow appropriate procedures to safeguard children.
“In addition, staff’s overall understanding of reporting procedures is very poor.”
The inspection, which took place last month, also revealed children were at risk of harm due to poor leadership, with a “high number” of complaints being logged, some of which raised “serious safeguarding concerns”.
Elizabeth Smith’s daughter Alice, eight, who suffers from a unique chromosome abnormality, used the club about once a week after school since 2013.
Miss Smith, 28, of Abingdon, said: “I’m shocked and definitely angry and frustrated. I feel let down because you try to have a break, you think you’re putting your child in a safe environment so I feel very angry.”
There are 52 children on the roll of the club, which was give an ‘inadequate’ rating – the worst possible rating and the same it scored after its previous Ofsted visit in September. In its latest report, all areas of inspection, including meeting the needs and well-being of children and its leadership and management, were given the bottom rating.
Miss Smith added: “What’s distressing is that it was inadequate last year and parents thought they had resolved the issue. You think the people you leave your children with are good, but they are
not and it is very disheartening and frustrating.”
The club operates in several rooms in the school from 3pm to 6pm on weekdays in term time. A holiday play scheme operates during school holidays.
The trust runs similar clubs in Witney, Wheatley and Sonning Common and at the East St Family Centre in Banbury.
Yesterday, Guideposts Trust denied it had not reported the allegation, though it admitted not reporting it to Ofsted due to an “administrative error.”
It said the concerns about children’s safety were “primarily around documentation” and there were no concerns over an individual child’s protection.
“The concerns focus around the general safety of children,” it said in a statement.
The trust said all staff had Disclosure and Barring Service checks, which can be needed for working with children.
It said: “We have written to all parents to apologise for the disruption and inconvenience this has inevitably caused to them.”
The trust will also challenge “some aspects” of the Ofsted report, it said.
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Owen Morton said the matter had been brought to its attention and the local authority had helped families to find alternative support.
Guideposts Ofsted 2014pdf.pdf
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