York & North Yorkshire

York nurseries: Staff suspended in inquiry into care

Heworth House children's nursery
Image caption Heworth House Children's Nursery is one of the establishments being investigated

A number of staff at two private nurseries in York have been suspended as part of an investigation into how children were looked after.

York council said "the quality of care and welfare" of children at Little Joes in Fishergate and Heworth House in Melrosegate was being investigated.

The police, council and Ofsted are conducting an inquiry and said there was no suggestion of sexual abuse.

The nurseries' owner Lynn Drydal said she was "completely shocked".

Joe Cocker, manager of City of York Safeguarding Children Board, said several staff at both nurseries had been suspended, but would not confirm how many.

Ms Drydal said she had asked "several girls" who worked there to stay at home.

She said: "I felt best to comply with the welfare requirements regarding the safety and looking after children and also that of my staff, I have asked several girls if they would be strong, be resilient, that I am behind them 110%, but if they could just stay at home until I find out precisely what is happening."

Ms Drydal said she had not been told what the allegations were and that it had had a "horrendous" effect on her business.

She added: "I would like this investigation to be moved on so I can try and build back up the business which I have had ruined."

A joint statement from the board, North Yorkshire Police, City of York Council and Ofsted said parents had been told about the inquiry.

Information line

The statement said: "Where there is a specific concern, families have been contacted personally."

It continued: "The inquiries relate to the running of the nurseries, the quality of care and the welfare of children who attend the nurseries."

As part of the investigation, both nurseries have been visited by North Yorkshire Police, Ofsted and City of York Safeguarding Board, the statement added.

It said: "Following the visits, a number of staff members have been suspended by their employer pending further inquiries."

Parents can call City of York Council's Family Information Service, which is available between 08:30 and 17:00 on 01904 554444.

Little Joes takes children from birth to eight years old and has separate preschool, toddler and baby units. It was last inspected by Ofsted in September 2008, when it was rated "good" overall.

The nursery has a capacity for 51 children and employed nine staff at the time of the last inspection.

Heworth House was inspected by Ofsted in May this year, when it was rated "satisfactory".

It is registered to take children from birth to five years and has capacity for 30 children. It employs nine members of staff.

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