AN AWARD-WINNING nursery was issued with a serious concern letter during an inspection after significant concerns were raised about the treatment of children in its care.

Concerns about the approach of staff to youngsters with additional support needs (ASN) at the Honest Toun Nursery in Musselburgh led to an immediate warning from inspectors.

And in a damning report following the inspection, it was claimed that children who required additional support were “not being sensitively and effectively supported”.

East Lothian Council, which uses the centre as one of its partner nurseries, said it had met with management to discuss “the need for urgent improvement”.

The council said: “Our early years support team are working with the nursery to advise and support them in the key areas they need to improve.

“As regards children with ASN, it is for the nursery to support those children, but the council’s educational psychologist regularly visits the nursery and provides guidance on how best to support individual children but it is over to staff to then implement the suggestions.”

The Care Inspectorate report highlighted concerns about ASN children in the nursery.

It said: “Some children did not always experience respectful care and support, as some staff did not always use positive, inclusive language when children required support.”

The nursery, which caters for up to 112 children from newborns to primary school age, received a grade of two – weak – for care and support, staffing, and management and leadership following the visit in May.

The grading increased to three – adequate – for its environment.

The report said: “We issued a serious concern letter to the provider, as we were significantly concerned about the practice.”

Their concerns were addressed immediately, they said, and arrangements brought in to ensure staff were supervised by senior management.

But the inspection report issued a requirement for the nursery to “ensure that children are safe and consistently treated with dignity and respect” in the wake of the concerns.

Inspectors did praise the relationships between staff and children, describing them as mostly warm and caring, and said most of the children were relaxed and happy in the nursery.

The Honest Toun Nursery’s operators Bertram Nursery Group received a Nursery Management Today (NMT) Scottish Nursery Award last year as nursery group of the year.

A spokesperson for the Honest Toun Nursery said: “Our highest priority is the safety and welfare of the children in our nursery.

“We are pleased the inspectors have recognised the warm and caring approach of our staff and that our children are relaxed and happy.

“Since the inspectors visited, we have appointed an experienced new manager to run the nursery and have implemented an enhanced programme of training for all staff which is addressing their findings.

“We are also making improvements to provide a quieter, cosier environment for our younger children.

“We are committed to continuous improvement and working closely with the families of all our children and have taken steps to increase our communications with parents, which has been well received.

“For children who require additional support, we are also working with the local authority and the inspectorate to ensure we have effective personal plans in place for each child and are logging information consistently.

“We are committed to ensuring all staff have a clear understanding of the strategy for each child.”