A Dundee after-school club run by parent volunteers has been ordered to ensure children aren’t left hungry or thirsty after some were left without water.
An unannounced visit to the Happy Hours Out Of School Club found a number of areas for improvement, with some concerns about children’s safety.
Children were found playing in a bin at the Ardler-based club, according to the Care Inspectorate.
The service operates from the Ardler Community Complex and is for children of primary school age up to 12 years old.
The early morning breakfast club, which runs from 7.45am until 9am, is based in the nearby St. Mary’s Community Church Hall.
List of concerns raised
In a damning report, the watchdog outlined a series of major issues with the service following the September inspection.
- Unlocked gates
- A ‘lack of compassion’ and ‘little structured learning’ from staff
- Insufficient food and water supplies
- A potentially dangerous playground
- Data breaches
In one concerning incident noted by the Care Inspectorate, the gate and fire door were left unlocked, “risking the potential for children to leave unattended, or for unknown individuals to enter the premises”.
‘Lack of compassion’
The report said that most staff “did not fully support children to reach their potential and develop lifelong learning skills” — which inspectors say resulted in children having little structure or support in their play.
One member of staff told an inspector that “children were often left to do their own thing”.
“At times, we found that staff interactions lacked compassion and warmth.”
“We found this led to some children resorting to unsafe activities, such as playing in one of the school bins,” said the report.
It continued: “At times, we found that staff interactions lacked compassion and warmth.
“This included responding negatively to children’s verbal and non-verbal communications.
“For example, a child told a member of staff that they had hurt themselves and was not comforted or reassured.
‘Staff, therefore, failed to support children’
“On another occasion, a member of staff was heard using an inappropriate tone when speaking to a child. Staff, therefore, failed to support children, resulting in their needs not being respected or met.”
Children being suitably fed and hydrated was an issue raised by inspectors during their visit to Dundee.
Describing a day at the club, an inspector wrote: “Children sat together to eat a snack when they arrived at the club.
“Several children asked for more apple, but this was not always given due to insufficient supply. We asked the manager to address this urgently to ensure all children
attending the club had access to enough food.
“They provided evidence to show this had been addressed and we will continue to monitor this as part of their improvement.”
Insufficient food and water supplies
It continued: “Two large bottles of water were shared between children during snack, however, this was not enough for them to drink.
“While outside, children did not have access to water despite it being a hot day.
“We emphasised the importance of children having access to fresh drinking water throughout their day to prevent dehydration.
Water stations set up ‘urgently’
“The manager was asked to address this urgently and provided evidence of water
stations being set up outside. We will continue to monitor this as part of their improvement.”
The way the service administers medication was also deemed unsuitable with managers told to be clearer about the type and dosage needed.
A lack of risk assessment was also reported, with the school playground not checked before being used.
“While they were playing in the area, children alerted a member of staff to an uncovered manhole, which exposed a large hole in the ground,” the report said.
Data protection breaches and manhole in playground
The Care Inspectorate said that children’s personal information “was found to be poorly managed and did not comply with current legislation or best practice”.
Children’s contact details were shared without parental consent or consideration of
“This did not respect children’s and family’s privacy and put them at risk,” it was reported.
The service, which is run by a committee made up of parents, aims to provide “a happy, safe, and nurturing” environment where all children and their families feel welcome.
It aims to create a “child-centred” setting where the children and young people are encouraged to make decisions, value individuality and provide inclusive play opportunities.
Despite the concerns, officials received positive feedback from parents.
In an online questionnaire, all those who replied agreed or agreed strongly that they
were happy with the quality of care their child received while in the service.
‘Some children said they did not enjoy the club’
However, some children said they did not enjoy their time at Happy Hours Out Of School Club.
“There were 26 children attending the service during the inspection. Most appeared to be settled in the setting, engaging in play with their friends,” said the report.
“We spoke to children throughout our visit, some children told us they did not enjoy their time at the club.
“We raised this with the manager who agreed to explore this further to ensure children outcomes improve.”
Inspectorate outlines improvements needed
Requirements and suggestions to improve the service were made by the Care Inspectorate.
These include ensuring GDPR compliance, better security, and better access to food and water.
A spokesperson for the club said: “Happy Hours Out of School Club staff team and committee acknowledge the pilot report published by Care Inspectorate.
“We would like to reassure all our service users that we are addressing report requirements and all children are safe and cared for during time attending the club.
“We are working together as a team and have already implemented a number of improvements mentioned within the report. The club will continue to self-evaluate our service including working with Care Inspectorate and others to provide a high-quality service.”