‘Outstanding’ Finsbury Park playgroup takes just one year to recover from poor Ofsted

St Thomas's Playgroup pupils at the end-of-year graduation ceremony on Friday. Picture: Dieter Perry

St Thomas's Playgroup pupils at the end-of-year graduation ceremony on Friday. Picture: Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

When a school or nursery gets a damning Ofsted report, it’s not unusual to see an immediate improvement as staff are whipped into shape. But few have progressed as quickly as St Thomas’s Playgroup in Finsbury Park.

Only one year ago, it was given a damaging downgrade after a “clerical error” meant that new members of the management committee hadn’t been subject to checks.

Staff were also criticised for not encouraging the children, aged up to eight, to be more independent.

The playgroup, based in St Thomas’s Church Hall in Monsell Road, was given a “requires improvement” rating: third on a rank of four.

But on Tuesday, it completed a remarkable turnaround as its latest inspection resulted in the top possible grade - “outstanding” - across all categories.

It praised “enthusiastic and committed” staff, “rapid” progress of the children and the “exceptional” support they are given.

Staff, parents and pupils celebrated the report at the end-of-term graduation ceremony on Friday.

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Claudine Noury, who has managed the playgroup for 10 years, said: “The bad report was a blow. In the report before that, we had been ‘good’ with elements of ‘outstanding’.

“But we suffered from a clerical error. The inspector said that regardless of anything else, we wouldn’t get anything above ‘requires improvement’, and that it would possibly be worse.

“I lost the will to carry on the inspection, but we had to swallow it.”

She continued: “It was a big wake-up call but afterwards we just carried on as normal. The new report is a true reflection of what we do.

“It is down to our amazing staff. They are so dedicated. They go above and beyond and help the children achieve their milestones. It’s what they deserve.”

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