A NURSERY group is facing an investigation after it withdrew places for two children with additional support needs (ASN).

Bright Stars, which took over four nurseries in East Lothian this summer, had its funding for 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare withdrawn by East Lothian Council last month after concerns were raised over its policy towards ASN children.

Now the Care Inspectorate has confirmed that it is investigating a complaint made by a parent about one of the nurseries.

Bright Stars confirmed that it had informed two parents at one of its nurseries that it was unable to continue with their children's places, saying it was “incredibly sorry” to have to make the decision.

However, the company – which owns Pear Tree West Road, Church Street and Meadowpark, all in Haddington, and Pumpkin Patch Nursery in North Berwick – claimed that it had been unable to recruit staff with the skills required to provide one-to-one services to the youngsters.

The news came as East Lothian Council published dozens of documents setting out its dealings with the nursery group after it was inundated with Freedom of Information requests from parents who were left in the lurch by the withdrawal of the funding.

READ MOREParents feel they are 'being punished' over nurseries' loss of funding

The council said that it could not renew its 1,140 hours contract with Bright Stars because the decision to exclude the ASN children breached national standards.

The documents reveal that concern about the group’s approach to children with additional support were first raised in July when a staff member allegedly told a council worker that they “would not be accepting children who require specific one-to-one additional support without financial assistance from the council”.

It was then claimed that the family of at least one youngster attending one of the nurseries received notice that their child had been “expelled”.

It is understood that family contacted the Care Inspectorate following the decision.

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “A concern has been raised with us about this service.

"We are considering all information given to us carefully.

"If we uphold a complaint, we will publish the outcome on our website.” 

They added: “Every child in Scotland has the right to good-quality, safe care which meets their needs and respects their rights."

READ MOREOwners 'stunned and dismayed' as four nurseries to lose funding for 1,140 hours

Documents released by the council detailed meetings and correspondence between its staff and Bright Stars, as well as the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Government, amid concern that the nursery group’s actions went against national standards by discriminating against children with disabilities.

At the start of August, the council’s head of education emailed the company after she said it sent a message to parents via an app which caused “significant concern”.

She said: “You have stated in your message that you ‘cannot continue to offer places for children with additional support needs’ at your nursery.

“I am deeply concerned by this statement. I am sure that you will be aware that this would put you in breach of any contract you may have with East Lothian Council.

“I am also extremely concerned that you have stated in your message that ‘the local authority has also withdrawn their funding for children with additional support needs’.

“This is not the case, and I ask that you now correct this statement immediately.”

The company responded two days later by removing the post from the app, papers state, adding that Bright Stars said: “In relation to the wording ‘cannot continue to offer places for children with additional support needs', the communication should have explained that this was limited only to the provision of places where one-to-one support and the nursery remains in a position where that cannot be accommodated.”


Minutes of a meeting between council heads and Bright Stars on August 11 show concerns being raised about the company’s decision to end a contract with families without discussions with the council and use of the word 'expulsion' in the termination notice.

A representative of Bright Stars disputed the use of the word 'expulsion' and said that the company believed it had not breached equality legislation; however, it was unable to say whether future children with additional support needs would be given places, saying there were “many variables” which would need to considered in each case.

Bright Stars said it had committed to funding the free hours for its children until the end of the year to avoid disruption.

A spokesperson said: “We are incredibly sorry and sad that we had to inform two parents at one of our nurseries that we were unable to continue their placement.

"Despite advertising for staff who would have been able to provide support, we were unable to find anyone who could have provided the one-to-one care required.

'Hugely disappointing'

“As a nursery group, we provide additional support to 134 children in total, of whom only eight receive additional council funding in other areas. This is not about funding, we cover the cost ourselves. This matter is purely about the safety of all of the children in our care.

“The fact that East Lothian Council has chosen to withdraw the 1,140 hours contracts for children attending four of our nurseries, citing the Equality Act as one of the reasons, is something that is hugely disappointing, not only for our staff but for all of the parents concerned.

“We recently held a meeting with the council, which we felt was positive, and are still optimistic that at some point in the future they will reinstate that funding.

“Meanwhile, we have informed parents at those nurseries that we will cover the cost of the childcare that would have been provided by the council until the end of the year, and will contribute half of the cost from the New Year.

"Parents have been incredibly supportive as they recognise their children are well cared for and supported at our nurseries, and we would like to thank them for their ongoing support.”