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Nursery worker sacked over care concerns
A WHISTLEBLOWER was sacked after raising concerns with social services about children’s safety and welfare at a York nursery, The Press can reveal.
Qualified social worker Joanne Todd informed City of York Council of her worries over issues including hygiene, staff-children ratios and risks posed by chickens in the nursery garden at Kaleidoscope’s City Nursery in Garden Street, The Groves.
The company has since told her that her employment was terminated because she had not followed its whistleblowing procedures, in that it did not believe at the time she had made efforts to contact a senior manager or director over her concerns about safeguarding practices.
“We now believe that in breaching the relevant procedure, you acted in good faith and in the best interests of the children in your care,” said Kaleidoscope managing director Jane Middlebrook in a letter to Ms Todd, of Stamford Bridge.
City of York Council said it had completed an investigation into allegations made against the nursery. A spokesman said: “Any allegation made about the welfare of children is thoroughly investigated.
“The nursery owners have cooperated throughout. Further discussions are ongoing between the nursery and statutory bodies.”
He said officers had visited the nursery, after which standard guidance was sent to the nursery owners about the best way to house chickens in a school/nursery environment.
Ms Todd said she decided to contact The Press because she felt it was in the public interest to expose her concerns.
She said she took a job at the nursery in July as a childcare practitioner in a probationary position, but quickly became concerned about a number of issues and contacted Ofsted after four weeks, prior to later contacting the council.
She had concerns about staff/children ratios and said that after she raised a particular welfare concern about a child, she was unhappy with the way the matter was being dealt with by the nursery.
She said she also complained to a council environmental health officer that she believed children were being exposed to the risk of Ecoli because of two hens which were kept in a run in the nursery back garden.
She claimed the hens were allowed to run around the play area, including a sand pit, dropping faeces, but the children were not made to wash their hands after playing out.
She also claimed there were several incidents in which children were pecked.
Jane Middlebrook said: “I can confirm we are keeping chickens at the nursery as part of our commitment to the wider education of children in our care.
“Officers from the council visited on 28th September and following the visit issued standard guidance to us regarding the best way to house chickens in a nursery/school environment.
“Regarding Joanne Todd, it is not our policy to disclose information which is confidential about our employees.”