YOUNGSTERS at a Penarth nursery were restrained in chairs as punishment for bad behaviour, an inspection report has claimed.

But the owner of the privately-run Nightingales pre-school and nursery has blasted the claims as “an outright lie”.

The school in Albert Crescent was assessed by the the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) in August this year after a parent raised concerns claiming inappropriate use of the ‘clippasafe’ harness. The clippasafe uses a harness to secure children to chairs as a way of stopping them from falling out.

The report alleges three members of staff at the centre said the harnesses “had been used to restrict some children’s movements during structured activities,” as well as being used “if children had not co-operated when ‘time out’ had been used as a method of managing unwanted behaviour.”

It also states staff claimed children were sometimes “threatened” with being restrained.

But Nightingales owner Selina Thomas says large sections of the report are inaccurate, adding none of the allegations referred to in the report were witnessed by the assessor.

“There are certain elements that are inaccurate, the main one being the suggestion that we have used the harness as a behaviour management tool,” she said. “That absolutely does not happen at this nursery.

“Time out wasn’t even used the day when the assessors were there. We’ve already raised this with the CSSIW and they are standing by their report.

“The idea that it was used during time out is an outright lie.”

Ms Thomas, who has run Nightingales with her husband Paul for 13 years, added she believes her staff felt under pressure to think of alternative uses for the clippasafe, but said she is at a loss to explain their comments.

“I still can’t get to the bottom of how three of my members of staff have said this,” she said. “I was incredulous about it. All of my staff have said to me that the clippasafe is not used for those means.

“My interpretation is that the staff felt under pressure and tried to think of other reasons why you could use it, and not why we did.
“The two main things that are absolutely wrong are that they claim that we use it, and that they witnessed it being used.”

While Ms Thomas says a number of parents have expressed concerns over the report’s content, she claims most have offered their full support.

And, although she said accepts some of the report’s recommendations for improvement, she added that she would like to see an apology issued.

“Mud sticks,” she said. “It’s quite heartbreaking to think of all the hard work that we’ve done. We’re going to the ombudsman. 

“The report’s out there now and the damage is done, but I would like them to come back and offer us an apology.”

A CSSIW spokeswoman said: “We undertook an inspection of the nursery in August 2017 and found that care practices relating to behaviour management fell short of expected standards and resulted in poor outcomes for children. 

“We undertook a further inspection in October 2017 and the inspection report will be published in due course.

“All care providers have an opportunity to challenge and question the findings of our inspections before the report is published.”