The parents of a three-year-old boy found wandering the streets after leaving his nursery unnoticed have spoken of their anger at the shocking security lapse.
Joseph Kemp was spotted by a passerby in Balmoral Road, Oakham, after being able to leave Catmose Nursery without being stopped by staff.
Joseph, who was wearing just a nappy and a T-shirt, was taken to Oakham Police Station after being found on the afternoon of Friday, August 5.
Shocked parents Mark, 50, and Sheena, 44, said they felt physically sick after being told their son had been walking on his own for an estimated 20 minutes.
Ofsted has carried out an investigation into the incident but Mr and Mrs Kemp say they still have unanswered questions.
Mrs Kemp said: “I went to collect Joseph from nursery on the Friday afternoon and when I arrived there was a police car there.
“I was met by two members of staff who explained he had gone missing. I don’t know how I managed to stay stood up – my heart was racing. I was in shock.
“They said he’d been found by a lady on Balmoral Road and taken to the police station. He was still there at that time.
“They claimed they had tried to ring me, but I had not received any calls.
“I stayed at the nursery to find out what had happened while my husband went to collect him from the police station.”
Mrs Kemp said staff were clearly distressed by the situation and very apologetic.
She added: “I just could not believe he had got out.
“I went home and met Joseph there. It was very emotional. He’s not going back to the nursery, he can’t. I could never feel comfortable with him there again.
“All sorts of scenarios were going through my head. I was picturing all the what ifs and what could have happened. It was horrific.”
Catmose Nursery is based on the Catmose College site in Huntsmans Drive, Oakham, but during the summer some staff and children were temporarily moved to Catmose Primary School in Sandringham Close while renovation work was carried out. It was from there that Joseph went missing.
Mr Kemp said he is seeking an apology from the Rutland and District Schools’ Federation, which runs the college, primary school and nursery.
He added: “I want to know why security measures were not in place, and exactly how long he was out for.
“Fortunately Joseph does n’t seem affected by what happened because he is so young, but it has really shaken the rest of the family up.”
Mr and Mrs Kemp, who live in Kilburn End, Oakham, have five other children aged between seven and 16.
They are currently looking for a new nursery for Joseph.
After being notified about the incident, Ofsted staff carried out an unannounced visit to the nursery on August 8.
A report states: “We found that the provider had failed to secure the premises as playground and exterior gates had been left open allowing an unaccompanied child to leave the setting.
“Poor supervision meant that no one had seen the child leave the premises and no -one had noticed that they were missing for a significant period of time.
“As a result we served a welfare requirements notice which required the provider to ensure that children do not leave the premises unsupervised and that they are adequately supervised at all times.”
A follow-up inspection two days later found action had been taken to secure the perimeter. However, concerns were also expressed that the nursery had failed to correctly implement its missing child policy by not immediately notifying police and the child’s parents that he was missing.
The report adds that risk assessments had not been carried out and the nursery had not notified Ofsted about its temporary change in location – a breach of regulations.
It continues: “Staff had not been deployed effectively at the time of the incident and new staff members had not been supervised during their induction period as set out in the setting’s induction policy.
“Basic care needs had not been met as the child who left the setting unsupervised was only partially clothed.”
Ofsted again visited the nursery on August 22 and found action had been taken to meet the welfare requirements notice previously put in place.
Leicestershire Police said they were told at 3.45pm on August 5 that a child had been found wandering alone in Oakham. Officers reunited the child with his father. Police are not taking any further action.
Stuart Williams, executive principal of the Rutland and District Schools’ Federation, said staff were ‘devastated’ by the incident and added that steps had been taken to ensure such an incident could never happen again.
He said: “The Catmose Nursery team were all devastated that a child was able to leave the premises whilst we were temporarily relocated due to a water supply issue during the summer.
“We are all grateful that the child was quickly found safely and have ensured that a similar incident could never happen again.
“We notified Ofsted and have worked closely with them to ensure that their concerns were addressed.
“The nursery is now back at our usual premises and Ofsted are satisfied that we meet the high standards required to continue to provide nursery care. We are immensely appreciative of the continued support from our nursery parents.”