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Shake-up call for system of vetting Scottish nurseries [GB]

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Thompson, Tanya
Publication Date: 
31 Aug 2004

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Child care experts are calling for radical changes to the way Scotland's nurseries are vetted after it emerged that only a third of inspectors are qualified to do their job.

Insiders say that staff at the Care Commission, the government's watchdog, are out of their depth because they are inspecting areas in which they have no formal training.

One woman with an extensive background in pre-school child-care was horrified when managers said she would have to inspect everything from old people's homes to dental surgeries.

Figures obtained by The Scotsman suggest that only 33 per cent of inspectors have an early years background, 25 per cent trained as nurses and 35 per cent have social work qualifications. A further 7 per cent were trained in other categories such as housing.

Child-care sources are concerned that many of the inspectors do not have an early learning diploma - seen as a prerequisite for anyone working in that field.

Critics say inspectors are overwhelmed by the volume of work, blaming a lack of resources for the failings at the Care Commission, which is supposed to monitor standards. There are only 312 inspectors to cover more than 14,000 registered care services, ranging from childminders to health care units, orphanages and old people's homes. Controversially, dental surgeries are expected to fall within their remit by the end of the year.

Last night, Sandra Brown, the former head of child-care at West Lothian College, described the inspection system in Scotland as "second-rate". "These figures make a mockery of the system. The inspectors should be properly trained and qualified. For too long, nurseries have been seen as the poor relation next to schools."

Figures show that in 2003-4 about 1,500 day-care services were given a "concise inspection" - regarded as inadequate and less thorough.

A spokesman for the Care Commission said staff had built up expertise by carrying out tens of thousands of inspections. He added: "Each team will contain the skills and knowledge necessary to ensure that a thorough and detailed inspection is the outcome."

- reprinted from the Scotsman

Entered Date: 
3 Aug 2004
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