Hove nursery closes after disastrous inspection

Posted On 06 Feb 2015 at 7:35 am

A Hove nursery has closed after Ofsted inspectors rated it as inadequate for failing to help children develop.

Little Oaks HoveLittle Oaks in Goldstone Villas shut its doors for the final time following the publication of the report just before Christmas last year.

The inspectors said that while children had formed a close relationship with staff, children were not being encouraged to progress, parents were kept uninformed, management was ineffective and some parts of the nursery were unsafe.

Inspectors also visited its sister branch in Stanford Avenue, Brighton, and rated that inadequate too.

In that case, inspectors raised concern about inconsistent teaching, overstretched management and hygiene.

However, the Brighton and Hove News understands the remaining two nurseries are working hard to bring standards back up to scratch.

One staff member, who wished to remain nameless, said: “Obviously it’s very disappointing, but we have made massive improvements.

“There’s now an overall executive manager and the staff are amazing and have been incredibly loyal.”


  1. feline1 Reply

    I was intrigued to find out what was “unsafe” about this nursery school so I clicked on the link and downloaded the PDF of Ofted’s report.
    Doing a search for the word “unsafe”, 0 results.
    Search for “safe”, 4 mentions. Nothing whatsoever about WHAT wasn’t safe, just “Insufficient action is taken to keep children safe. … Not all areas of the nursery have been made safe.”

    Eh? What on earth are they on about? Tiger in the playground? Bare electrical wires in the loo? Broken glass everywhere? Or insufficiently soft cushions on the chairs?
    Really, is this the sort of detailed analysis Ofsted typically produce? PUBLIC SECTOR LOONS

  2. parent1 Reply

    Maybe if the staff hadn`t been given more support from the higher management this wouldn`t have happened .
    In my opinion , the staff there worked their socks off to keep the nursery running , and i have nothing but high praise for them all.
    The nursery was not unsafe, if it had been then my child would certainly not have attended.
    It is my opinion that the nursery closed due to the awful lack of support from the owners and trustees of the nursery , and they should be ashamed that they let this happen .
    Six brilliant nursery practitioners ,including the manager and deputy manager all lost their jobs . I highly doubt the other 2 nurseries in the company will be standing by the end of the year .

    • Philippa Stephen-Martin Reply

      I would like to say as a nursery owner I feel very sorry for all effected by this and would like to offer a ray of hope to maybe a couple of the staff you mention . Cbabiesafe has been open for 13 yrs. We are at the top of Palmeira Avenue, so not to far from the nursery in question.
      We are currently looking for staff at our Hove and Worthing branch.
      I hope that someone will read this and get the message to these ladies or gents whom have been left without employment..
      We do also have spaces available for 0-5 yrs with funded sessions available if anyone is in need of another nursery.
      Please see our website cbabiesafe.com or call 01273770441 for further information.
      Kind regards


  3. parent1 Reply

    Apologies, that first line should read HAD been given support .

  4. Parent 2 Reply

    This fails to mention that the owner of all of these nurseries, Joanne Dennett is a drunk, and that she in fact she attended a meeting with ofsted highly intoxicated, also when she was asked to cover at this nursery due to a shortage of staff she also come in intoxicated and was told to leave and excourted out by a member of staff! If she had given the effort into supporting the brilliant staff that she took for granted and provided the nursery with decent equipment, food and essentials then maybe the poor staff wouldn’t have been jobless! Instead she is to concerned about alcohol and money! My child loved a handful of the staff there and she was always very happy, if it wasn’t for them I would have removed my daughter when the owners son was put into prison for touching a child whilst working there! I hope that family get all they deserve! The staff from the other nurseries need to get out before the same happens to them!

  5. tallulah Reply

    Thankyou to whoever posted the last comment , we all very much appreciate it .
    Whilst it is true that the nursery has closed down, unless you were part of the team that worked there , then none of you have the right to slate us and how we all worked.
    Obviously there was room for improvement- we are not denying that, but had we been given the correct training, support and funds from the owners and trustees , then this could very well not have happened , and all of us would still be in employment.
    Unfortunately i cannot say what i want to on here , but myself and the rest of our team know the truth and we can hold our heads up high. knowing we did everything possible in our power to keep the nursery open .
    Oh and also the nursery was never unsafe- just for the record. OFSTED have not backed this statement up in their report . And no – there were definetley no tigers roaming the gardens haha !

  6. Parent 2 Reply

    the nursery wasn’t unsafe otherwise my child would not have attended for two years! I can’t say anymore than the previous post from parent1, they hit the nail on the head in every respect and I couldn’t agree more with the comments. The staff needed more support and its a shame they didn’t get it rather than having to be cooks, cleaners, accountants etc as well as providing child care. My daughter is a funny clever happy little girl and I have to give credit for that to all those girls working at the nursery who helped make her that way. .

    • just-a-mother Reply

      The staff may of needed more support but I would think a certain amount of cooking and cleaning would be part of the job for most people working in a nursery ?.

  7. Valerie Paynter Reply

    This is so sad. And reading between the lines I wonder if maximising profits is in the mix somewhere, just as it too often is for privately owned Residential Homes for the elderly, resulting in minimum get-away-with provision.

    Why close this one and not upgrade it? As Ofsted judges is needed? Any reason apart from unwillingness to invest?

  8. R brooks Reply

    Now staff from other settings haven’t been paid

  9. tallulah Reply

    I am not suprised at all by them not being paid, they shut us down and still can`t pay other staff !
    Just shows how shoddy the top dogs really are !
    They shouldn`t be allowed to own or run a business if they can`t even pay their own hardworking staff . Ridiculous

  10. Vicky Southon Reply

    do NOT let your child attend these poorly run nurseries.

  11. Zoey sullivan Reply

    As a member of staff from this nursery I am absolutely disgusted that us girls are made out to be the cause yet truthfully we were the victims! Me and my colleagues spent our own money on food for the children as our boss was too inconsiderate to do our shopping for us, we also paid money towards toys and paints for the children so they could have something to do, the boss got asked by ofsted themselves to provide more resources and she failed to do so. She also turnt up under the influence of alcohol to a meeting with ofsted and that’s was the first time in months of me working there that id seen her step foot in the nursery. She never phoned to ask if we was okay or if we needed anything we were left un trained and to clean and cook and provide more than just childcare which definitely isn’t stated in the work contract, all these things resulted in the nursery closing. The boss herself and her family are unfit to be in a nursery around vulnerable children let alone own all 3 nurserys. They now cannot afford to pay any staff from the last month. This nursery closed due to no fault of my own or my colleagues just the boss herself and how we can be blamed is beyond me. I am ashamed to say I have worked for them and it has given me problems finding myself a new job luckily other nursery owners are understanding and willing to give me and my ex colleagues a chance, the nursery was never unsafe the children were loved dearly by every one of us and cared for like no other we are qualified practitioners and have the right to work in a childcare setting without being judged that we aren’t good enough.

  12. Deirdre Reply

    This article is rediculous, maybe if they had asked the staff the real reason it would explain a lot more but instead it’s just lies!!! The owner should have more respect for her employees instead she just wants to get drunk and not support anyone!! The staff were going out buying food and resources for the children and even paid to do different xmas stuff so they could as have stuff to give to parents!!! All staff we’re an asset to that ole and I praise them all!!! Just can’t say the same for the owners

  13. A Reply

    Totally unbelievable no mention of the trustee managers son and what happened when he worked there oh yes forgot he did he’s time come out and was seen hanging around outside nursery waiting for he’s mother why she called into nursery where he should not have been near!

  14. Parent3 Reply

    Absolutely delighted by the news, I moved my child from the setting along time ago because of these findings. The setting was completely in-adequate for education, hygiene and safety issues.
    The staff were attentive and caring but completely lacked support and guidance from the mangement/owner resulting in this outcome.
    The report does mention safety concerns ‘faulty stair gate’ but that is minor in comparison to the safety concerns reported in the past. Shame some parents were oblivious to the actual situation and of the welfare of the children towards the end, again clearly indicating little knowledge or communication to the parent.
    I am aware of many complaints of safety concerns, these are from other parents let alone incidents that I made myself but ofsted has failed to file them or the nursery clearly has not captured these in a complaints book visible to anyone.
    The owners have bought this on themselves. At least these children have a better chance now to develop further and adequately and are also safe which after all that is what the parent pays for.

  15. Zoe sullivan Reply

    seeing as my last comment didn’t get posted once again it was not the staffs fault I can’t begin to explain how the owner lacked in support! I saw her once or twice in 6 months of working there full time. Myself and other workers spent our own money on the nursery including food and resources for the children we loved and cared for! It was never unsafe otherwise ofsted would have mentioned reports of serious accidents which never happened because it was a safe environment for everyone. I must also add that rhe owner and the family are unfit to be around vulnerable children let alone own the nurserys.

  16. jo Reply

    Myself and my family take full responsibility

    • .... Reply

      So you should! You bought out a previous nursery to make it ‘better’ treated the previous staff like absolute crap everyone was either forced to leave or made redundant. Then run this one into the ground worse than it was before…you dont deserve to be an owner of any nursery and as for the staff i feel for you i know the exact situation you was left in this was me 5-6 yearss ago before it was taken over hope you all manage to find another job

  17. Previous employee. Reply

    While I completely respect everyone’s options, and those who worked at the setting, not all can be blamed on Joanna Dennett and the trustees. In the ofsted report, it clearly let’s readers know that staff were not motivated to do their jobs, and weren’t challenging the children enough. This is basic knowledge when you are a nursery practitioner; to be motivated. I know staff weren’t being motivated enough by owners, but this should be implemented regardless, the ability to play with children and challenge them while playing – a lot of these practitioners have years of experience, and what I’m trying to say is BASIC understanding of how to play, challenge and motivate children is basic knowledge for all practitioners! HOWEVER I worked at Little Oaks for many years (at another branch), and completely understand everyone’s comments. The main issue was the owner and her family. Joanna was not supportive enough as an owner and her family in the end were not fit to run or support the setting either. I’m sure staff did the best they could, with the lack of support and training they had, and It’s clear from what has happened that the other nurseries should not be open with Joanna as owner. Parents were dropping their children out like flies after the reality sunk in that the settings (all three) were not being supported and been given enough resources for the children. Staff too also dropped like flies, and for any parent this will automatically ring bells that the owners weren’t treating their staff how they should be.And because of the owners lack of knowledge, her ability to get drunk everyday (while driving – which parents had noticed), and her lack of support and training to hard working staff, it has affected staff getting jobs in the future. A disgrace, but a shame, because all three had so much potential.

    • ?? Reply

      Maybe if the managers hadn’t left the employees in the lurch and completely abandoned the team, then the owner would not have been involved.

  18. Parent3 Reply

    i am sorry but if there is broken equipment such as a safety stair gate, the main security gate to the nursery was not always closed and an owner under the influence of alcohol whilst around the children/on the premises then this is a serious security issue. Let alone the pervious security breaches in the past that were far worse than these. So yes security of the little ones was an issue and a big factor. Ofsted don’t just close nurseries for the sake of it.
    And jo, if you take full responsibility, you would pay all your hard working staff, give each of them glowing references and close the other nurseries! You are clearly incompetent of running such settings when parents put all their trust and faith in, pay high fees and quite frankly the child has not benefitted at all, in fact caused more problems not only in their development but their hygiene, security and eating foods from the value range (so not quality).
    What was you thinking!

  19. Jill Reply

    The owner was essentially the only one who made decisions. The manager of this nursery was left with no support or no money!
    Parents were asked to donate toys and even had a fundraising day to get money to give the entrance a lick of paint. Everyone was told its a charity based run nursery. Never heard where or what charity it supported.

    • Valerie Paynter Reply

      If it was a charity it would be Registered with the Charity Commissioners. You need to look into that. If it is a Registered Charity, all paperwork would carry the Reg. Charity number on it.

      Otherwise it is not “charity-based”. Unless donating to another Reg. Chariy it is not “supporting” another charity either.

      Were fraudulent charity claims being made?

  20. stanford Reply

    Everyones going on about the Hove branch, but has anyone read the Stanford one?
    This is just as bad , if not worse , the place is unhygenic for god sake. Why has this one not been closed down as well ?
    I think OFSTED have done a terrible job in not shutting down this one as well !
    If , as everyone is saying, this comes down to the owners then surely OFSTED and the local council have a responsibility to parents to shut this disgraceful place down and ban the owners from ever owning another childcare setting .
    And also i have read that staff haven`t been paid ?? What kind of boss doesn`t pay their staff? An absolutely shocking one, who should be hanging their heads in shame .
    By the sounds of things, Littleoaks should cease immediately, and parents should find alternative, much better childcare settings for their children .

  21. a.1 Reply

    Firstly i would like to say that none of the problems lay with the staff at these nurserys !! The owner is a to blame no wages for january an now told if they don’t take %50 of wages until problem solved the future of the jobs is poor !! The places need cleaning on a nightly basis as it is not fair to nursery staff to have to work all day an then clean as the cleaner is only in at one nursery an only 3 nights a week its all management please do not judge the nursery staff they really are a lovely group of women and regarding Joanne dennete personal life i don’t think it should be the blame of anyone but herself

  22. Stanford Reply

    When fhey closed this nursery we was told our jobs were secure the nurseries were in a more finically better state and things were looking better for myself my other colleges being at different units. Now sadly from tomorrow the Stanford nursery is closing due to non payment of last months wages. I’m unsure on where l the money seems to be going? Safe to say the owners are still enjoying themselves going on holidays. Anyways more importantly I would just like to apologise to all the inconvenience to any parents if we could have avoided this issue we would have very sorry Stanford girls xx

    • Carly Reply

      Hi I really feel for all you girls at the nurseries have look at what has gone on and working in a nursery myself and can say the amazing management team I work for and how committed they are a nursery cannot run without this.
      I really hope it all works out well for you girls and if any of you are left without work please contact me I know my nursery are always expanding.

  23. Previous Employee Reply

    What’s happening to the nursery at Islingwood Road? Is this still open?

  24. Employee Reply

    I would just like to say that the girls at the two standing nurseries are amazing and are working above and beyond to make sure the children are safe well looked after loved dearly and still provided with the best care they can possibly give given the circumstances and that the children are still very happy to come to the nurseries and enjoy the learning experiances that they are given as well as adore all the staff. It is a very hard time but myself and the other girls have shown our commitment and loyalty to the children and parents regardless of the current situation as we are there for them and we are doing the best we can for them all and are very grateful for all the support and understanding of the parents that we work with as well as the support from managers that have had a lot to deal with recently. We are also doing the best we can to rectify these situations and get them sorted. It’s at no fault of our own that these circumstances have arisen it is the fault of above so please show the staff some respect and give them the chance to shine to their fullest again as they are all excellent workers and want to help and support the children in their learning and growing journey by giving exceptional care for them aswell as the parents.

  25. Fran Reply

    First point is: 2/3 posts above indicate towards child abuse to a child by the owners son whilst he worked at the hove branch, he has done jail time. He was also seen outside the hove branch whilst on probation after his release. When surely he would not be allowed any where near the setting! Why has this never been in the news.
    Secondly no one has ever said that the staff are at fault or the staff do not care or love the little ones, but yet a lot of comments defending themselves.
    Please stop defending yourself, you have done everything possible that’s right and good, there is no need for you to do this.
    Thirdly, how the hell are the other nurseries still open under the ownership of these people.
    Fourth …. Why has this not made the ARGUS!

  26. Previous employee Reply

    There is no doubt in my mind that the best thing to do would be to close down the remaining 2 nurseries.
    Parents, move your children elsewhere. For their developments sake.
    Working here was an absolute depressing experience where I and my colleagues were expected to perform tasks around the nursery that were not within our job description, that often led in to unpaid overtime.
    That is just to scrape the surface of issues I had whilst working there.
    This has been a long time coming and I hope the other 2 nurseries, as I stated before, close very soon.

    Children and hard working staff deserve better.

  27. mel Reply

    Response to Feline1 – Unsafe is in the context of Child protection and safeguarding. Staff having being recruited without due diligence to ‘Safer Recruitment’. Also that staff had not had adequate training in safeguarding and were unclear about reporting process if staff were concerned about child abuse or neglect. This is not OFSTED gone mad ,but a reasonable and appropriate response to a setting that is not meetings it safeguarding responsibilities.

  28. In reply to 'previous employer' Reply

    If we were unable to do the ‘basic’ motivation, interaction ect how have we all found new jobs, and been praised by all parents?! u obviously do not no what or who u are talking about, I can guarantee the nursery u now own or work at may have staff that aren’t as strong as others, so perhaps before judging us on what u are reading in one inspection u should be focusing on ur nursery and the things u have to improve on as I no there is quite abit lol

    • Nancy Reply

      I think you have misunderstood what the person was trying to say. Unfortunately people are going to make opinions, so learn to listen and accept what people have to say. The comment doesn’t imply that staff aren’t good at their jobs, or won’t get jobs in the future, the person is just stating that lack of motivation and involvement were a key factor of the inspection. I’m sure you will all do well in whatever you do.

  29. In reply to 'previous employer' Reply

    As I have been informed The Dennett family still can’t stick by the rules of ofsted as stated by them that josh Dennett is not meant to be living in the family home while the family still own the nurseries but yet he’s lived there ever since leaving prison and the family have lied about it, will this family ever learn??!!

  30. martin Reply


  31. ??? Reply

    Not all the staff were hard working, some sat on there backside all day, leaving the hard work to others under them, !!!

  32. K Reply

    Right as a previous employer of hove I was with the company over 6 years and loved my time working there up until recently when the lack of support dropped dramically and all 3 nurserys were left to defend themselves!! This made the last couple of months working for the company very difficult we all at hove hold our hands up and say we wasn’t perfect and things could of been better but this was because of lack of support, training, money we all adored the children parents and eachother as a team the fact it’s now shut is heartbreaking but the best outcome as the owners don’t deserve to have nurseries let alone 2 more!!! I feel for all the staff that are left within the company and just hope they find better jobs because being out that company is the best thing that happened to us at hove I miss the children parents n girls an awful lot but still keep in contact with them all and always will!!! I can’t thank the girls enough for being a brilliant team!!! Unfortunately the company can’t go on much longer with the owners they have and as for not paying them is vile clearly there wages have gone on other things!!

  33. Lucy Reply

    Both my children attended the nursery and I am not sure what was supposed to be unsafe? Can someone enlighten me please?
    Also both my children are intelligent and I don’t feel that they have been behind in learning. My younger child’s new key worker at her new placement said that her speech development is amazing.
    There is too much emphasis on achieving Ofsted set goals. I was born in the 1970’s and children went to nursery to play not achieve government targets.
    Saying all the above, there was a general turnover of management at Little Oaks and Manager’s came and went which was a disappointment as it demotivated staff and unsettled the children. There was very little emphasis on parents evenings/meetings and I was surprised by all the notes on my girls progress when I received her file upon her leaving. (I guess I could have asked to look at the file before then) However, the new team leader had started to put things in place and had not really had a chance as by the time things were being ironed out the nursery was closed down by Ofsted.

  34. Robert Severn Reply

    I was shocked to read this and concerned. As a Nursery Manager I would like to think that I do all I can to support and motivate my team! I also have the best interests of the children in my care at the forefront of all I do!
    If any staff would be interested relocating to a nursery with a supportive manager please feel free to contact me at:
    Orchard Day Nursery, Queens Park Road, Brighton BN2 0GL, TEL 01273 622 883, email Orchardday@yahoo.co.uk.
    I do hope that all staff and children will be able to relocate and settle wherever they go!!

  35. Parent Reply

    I would just like to say my aughter attended little oaks for 3 years and my son just over a year and a half! All the staff were amazing and towards the end were working basically for free out of the love and care of the children! I was so sad to hear the nursery had closed and my children were. When I walk into a place as a parent I like to think I can tell if a place is unsafe and I cartainly didnt think littleaoaks was if it was I caertainly wouldnt have kept my child in the establishment. My daughter was praised when she started at school at how well her reading and writing skills were and what a happy, confident and energetic young girl she is, no doubt going to nursery helped this. My son is thriving and confident and he used to love going to nursery 2 days a week! It was completely down to the owner when they knew things were in trouble they should have done the decent thing and sold the business not leaving it till its got so bad that all the staff have lost their jobs and children have lost there nursery!! Just want to say You girls all did a magnificent job and just needed support like any employee does from their manager!!

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