Assurances after shock report

PARENTS are today being reassured about the quality of childcare in Suffolk after a BBC investigation exposed mistreatment and malpractice in some nurseries.

PARENTS are today being reassured about the quality of childcare in Suffolk after a BBC investigation exposed mistreatment and malpractice in some nurseries.

The BBC1 Real Story programme 'Nurseries Undercover', broadcast last night, showed children as young as two being roughly handled, shouted at and called names at a nursery in Staffordshire.

Suffolk County Council today issued a response to the programme in a move aimed at reassuring parents about the quality of childcare in the county.

A spokesman said: "The programme revealed some disturbing instances of mistreatment and bad practice by staff in some nurseries elsewhere in the country.

"The county council's specialist Early Years and Childcare Service is reminding parents of the work being carried out to try to make sure children have the highest standards of care in Suffolk nurseries."

The spokesman said Suffolk had 114 registered day care nurseries, 237 playgroups, 881 childminders and 136 out of school and holiday clubs.

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He said: "The county council has its own Early Years and Childcare training unit which runs training modules for childcare providers throughout Suffolk.

"The courses offered cover every area including first aid, food hygiene, curriculum planning, playwork and all other aspects of childcare practice."

During the investigation childcare staff were caught on tape pulling children by the arm, flouting hygiene regulations, and verbal abuse.

Childcare expert Marion Dowling , president of the British Association for early Childhood Education said the behaviour of staff was inexcusable.

She told the BBC: "If the children are exposed to that behaviour day after day, I do feel they will become hardened to it and in the worst circumstances start to imitate that behaviour."

Sue Thomas, chair of Suffolk Children First - a group representing people and organisations involved in childcare-said: "The county council takes the quality of childcare being delivered in Suffolk very seriously indeed. I think we all have a role to play in this.

"I think in Suffolk we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure what we saw on television last night does not happen here."

The council has introduced a quality assurance standard called the Suffolk Quality Kitemark, which aims to help nurseries deliver high standards. Regular inspections are included in the scheme.

Mrs Thomas said parents should spend time with their children at nurseries when they join.

"Any childcare provider that doesn't want to let the parent stay, parents could be a little bit wary of. "There is always the question of whether this is scaremongering and could parents be put off sending their child to a perfectly good nursery.

"I think parents should not worry too much but should check the nursery themselves."

Mrs Thomas said parents with any concerns should contact the Suffolk Childcare Information Service on 0845 6080033.

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