Investigation halted after Taunton nursery is closed

AN investigation into childcare at a Taunton nursery was cut short after the owner withdrew their OFSTED registration, the County Gazette can reveal.

But Susan Shirley, former owner of The Elms nursery in Taunton, rejected the allegations that she mistreated children there as being “malicious” and “hurtful” and said the welfare of the children was always her prime concern.

The Government’s education watchdog launched the investigation into The Elms Children’s Nursery, in Staplegrove Road, in October after receiving initially anonymous complaints about the treatment of children.

Allegations included reports of Mrs Shirley grabbing children aggressively, shouting in their faces and pulling them along by their arms.

OFSTED began its investigation, and interviewed a number of witnesses including former members of staff, but the probe was not complete when Mrs Shirley closed the nursery in November on “health and staffing grounds”.

But she was cautioned by OFSTED after admitting she had falsified the register in order to have more youngsters in her care than she was registered for.

Mrs Shirley strongly denied the allegations of mistreatment and no finding had been made against her when the inquiry was discontinued. No further action will be taken as the nursery is no longer registered.

An OFSTED spokesman said: “OFSTED works with police and social services whenever allegations are made about the care and welfare of children while they are being cared for in registered day care settings.

“We confirm that the registration of The Elms was resigned while an OFSTED investigation was underway.

“OFSTED has no regulatory or enforcement powers once registration has been resigned.”