Playgroup one of the best in the country

LEEN ON ME -- children and staff of the go-ahead Leen Mills Pre-School Playgroup celebrate their outstanding OFSTED inspection
LEEN ON ME -- children and staff of the go-ahead Leen Mills Pre-School Playgroup celebrate their outstanding OFSTED inspection

IT’S OFFICIAL! Leen Mills Pre-School Playgroup in Hucknall is among the best in the country.

That’s the view of the Office For Standards in Education (OFSTED) after inspectors visited the venue at its base on Carlingford Road.

For they handed out the highest possible rating and judged the playgroup to be ‘outstanding’ across the board.

A report states: “Given children’s age, ability and starting points, they make excellent progress towards the early-learning goals.

“A wonderful range of experiences, which capture children’s imaginations and support their learning, is highly effective.

“The well-qualified, confident and experienced staff make every effort to wholly respect the individuality of every child.”

The inspection has been greeted with delight by the playgroup’s manager, Lesley Hopewell, who has been one of its driving forces since it was launched in 1986.

“This is just fantastic,” she told the Dispatch. “It is clear that hard work and dedication from all our staff has paid off.

“We are over the moon and can’t believe it. We have trawled the OFSTED website and can’t find any others in Nottinghamshire with such a rating.”

The oustanding OFTSED report marks the pinnacle for the playgroup and a remarkable turnaround.

Originally it was based at Leen Mills Primary School in Hucknall. But as recently as 1998, it was penniless and homeless.

Thankfully a rescue package came in the shape of a £265,000 grant from the National Lottery.

It allowed the playgroup to move into the former Holy Cross Catholic Church where it remains today.

But since those dark days, things have gone from strength to strength.

It now boasts 95 children aged between two-and-a-half and five on the books and in the last year has opened an outdoor classroom and a £100,000 room for older children.

The report from the OFSTED inspectors states that children are safeguarded “extremely well” and Lesley is a “strong leader” who provides skilled guidance to an enthusiastic and capable team.

Children are “extremely happy and settled” and benefit from activities tailored to each individual youngster.