Supporters of a childcare provider fear it could lose funding from Dorset Council after back-to-back full Ofsted inspections rated the service as ‘inadequate’.

Crossways Playgroup, which is based in Crossways Village Hall, has been under pressure since receiving an inadequate rating from the education watchdog in April this year.

Following this damning report the inspector issued a Welfare Requirement Notice, which ordered Crossways Playgroup to meet certain criteria in order to retain its Ofsted registered status.

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A follow-up inspection found that these requirements had been met in July, meaning the group could continue to run, but the latest full Ofsted inspection from October 8 judged that the service was once again ‘inadequate’.

The group is run by a committee and has been receiving funding to provide free early years education for children aged two, three and four years.

However, Crossways councillor Nick Ireland claims this latest report means the group’s funding could be withdrawn: “Following the previous inspection and subsequent notice of withdrawal of funding I represented the preschool at an independent hearing which resulted in most of the funding being restored with the condition that if the next inspection had outcome of inadequate, that would lead to a final, incontestable withdrawal of Early Years funding.

“Both the chairman of Crossways Preschool and I agreed to that condition, hence the setting will no longer receive funding from Early Years next year.

“Early Years will continue to support the setting in addressing the concerns raised by Ofsted and by providing any other help they are asked to provide.”

The latest report stated “the provision is inadequate,” “the quality of teaching is weak,” and “the arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.”

Concerns were also raised about a lack of a deputy to take charge in the manager’s absence and there being no special educational needs coordinator, which has reportedly had a significant impact on some children’s ability to make good progress.

However, Cllr Ireland believes that the childcare provider has been unfairly treated by Ofsted: “I have great sympathy with the setting in that it appears they are given constantly moving targets to meet. Whatever they strive to achieve, Ofsted come back and highlight something else which wasn’t raised previously. “It also seems clear that the outcome of any given inspection greatly depends on the particular inspector conducting it and how well they have been briefed on the previous history and/or inter-inspection communication.” Crossways Playgroup declined to comment on the report or its findings.

The full Ofsted reports can be found at

CONCERNS have been raised by Cllr Ireland that the withdrawal of Early Years funding from Crossways Playgroup will put extra pressure on other local childcare providers.

He said: “I have concerns regarding both sufficiency and choice in Crossways. I was told, but haven’t yet been able to verify, that Frome Valley School has no space for some, if not all, preschool year groups and it is very clear that there is no longer any choice in the village for parents that receive Early Years funding.

Dorset Council has not confirmed that the funding will be withdrawn, but released the following statement:

A council spokesman said: “We are aware of the Ofsted judgement relating to Crossways Playgroup and have been supporting them between inspections. Decisions regarding funding are made in line with Dorset Council policies based upon Department for Education guidance and are discussed directly with the setting.

“Department for Education guidance states a local authority should not fund providers rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

"In these situations, Dorset Council seek to secure alternative provision and withdraw funding, as soon as practicable, for children who are already receiving their free early education at a provider when it is rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. We are currently in discussion with the setting."