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Top marks for early years offer as 100 per cent of nurseries and childminders achieve Good or Outstanding Ofsted ratings

St Helens Borough is bucking the trend when it comes to quality early years education provision, with 100 per cent of nurseries and childminders rated either Outstanding or Good by Ofsted.

Early Years 100 %

Article date: 13 December 2023

There are currently 42 Ofsted-graded preschool nursery settings and 39 graded childminders registered in the borough, with 36 'Good' nurseries and six 'Outstanding' - while 34 childminders have been judged 'Good' and five as 'Outstanding' - meaning the St Helens total for the top two-tier Ofsted grades stands at 100 percent. 

One setting contributing to the borough's success in early years development is 'Good' Ofsted-rated Heirs and Graces Day Nursery on Greenfield Road, which employs more than 30 staff and looks after between 250-300 children a week.  

"We aim to be the highest all the time," said Sue Dawe, owner and manager of Heirs and Graces which has been named in the top 20 nurseries in the North West on two occasions and has recently gained 'Platinum' - the highest certification from the Quality Counts national award scheme, run by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).  

"We get a lot of support from staff from the council's Early Years Hub who we meet with regularly to discuss practice, share achievements, and receive advice when it comes to things like preparing for Ofsted.  

"Our mantra as a nursery is 'where quality counts' and that's what we've always said. Quality is paramount."  

Commenting on a recent visit to Heirs and Graces, Councillor Nova Charlton, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:  

"As a council, our main priority is ensuring all children and young people have the best start in life, with our children's services recognised this year with a 'Good' with 'Outstanding' features Ofsted report - so it's great that early years providers share that same vision by providing a top-class childcare offer.  

"Early years is crucial to a child's development, that's why we will continue to support nurseries and childminders to the best of our ability through mentoring, training and any other form of help so that they can continue to maintain and achieve such high standards like this which deserves to be celebrated."  

To make childcare more affordable for working parents, eligible parents can claim free early education entitlement for three and four-year-olds from 15 up to 30 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year.  

Some children who are two years of age can also access up to 15 hours of funded early education and childcare a week, for 38 weeks of the year depending on their individual family circumstances, through the council's Passport for 2s' scheme.  

For more information on childcare support in St Helens Borough, visit:

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Last modified on 13 December 2023