The owner of a Norfolk nursery said she felt like "giving up" due to a clash with Ofsted.

Little Footsteps in Dereham has been rated ‘inadequate’ by the education watchdog following an inspection on February 21.

But Donna Nevill, the nursery's owner, took issue with the rating, saying it was down to a safeguarding issue which had not been fairly assessed. 

Mrs Nevill said this concerned an incident in April last year involving a parent's concerns  after their child came home with ‘finger bruising’, and was worried a member of staff was responsible. However, Mrs Nevill said that the child had been for a blood test.

Dereham Times: Donna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett of Little FootstepsDonna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett of Little Footsteps (Image: Archant)

Mrs Nevill said "all parties" later agreed on the cause and the complaint was closed, with signatures from staff and the parent.

But Ofsted's inspector said the incident should have been reported to a local authority designated officer (LADO).

Mrs Nevill said: “LADO wrote back, and told us they wouldn't want us to report it, not now or then, as it didn’t meet its threshold, which we knew.

"That’s why we did not report it, that's why we argued with Ofsted, that is why we didn’t report it, as not to jump to conclusions.

“We formally complained about the report and were told we would hear back on May 4 - the day before we received an email telling us Ofsted was not changing anything, end off.

Dereham Times: Ofsted carried out the inspection on February 21Ofsted carried out the inspection on February 21

“They haven’t listened to us, they don’t seem to care, and it is soul-destroying.

"We almost gave up on the nursery and on the families because they literally broke us.

“It was a horrific experience, that is why took us a month to make the complaint as we could not fathom it.

“We recognise we had to do something, but we feel they are not willing to listen or change their minds.”

READ MORE: Norfolk: Yaxham CoE Primary School given good Ofsted report

An Ofsted spokesman said it did not comment on complaints relating to individual providers. 

The watchdog's report rated the nursery 'good' in the categories 'quality of education',
'behaviour and attitudes' and 'overall effectiveness', but 'inadequate' in the categories 'personal development' and 'leadership and management'. 

The report said: “Children's safety is not assured due to weaknesses in how promptly and effectively leaders and managers follow their safeguarding policy.

"That said, children enjoy their time at this inviting, comfortable and well-resourced nursery.

“There are breaches of requirements that affect children's safety and well-being. Leaders do not always work together with other agencies to safeguard children.

"Where allegations have been made against staff working with the children, the provider has carried out their own internal investigations before any communication with other agencies.”

The report went on to say that children in Reception who attend the nursery for care before and/or after school or during the holidays did not have an allocated 'key person'.

Dereham Times: Little Footsteps Nursery, DerehamLittle Footsteps Nursery, Dereham (Image: Ian Burt)

The report praised nursery staff in a number of areas including the range of activities offered, the opportunities children have to gain new skills and knowledge, leaders ensuring a focus on supporting children's communication and language skills, and a high level of support for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

The report also said children develop well as a result of overall good teaching. However, it said not all staff showed that they had a 'very strong' understanding of the provider's curriculum in their interactions with children.