‘Outstanding’ playgroup wins glowing praise from Ofsted

Manager Lesley Hopewell (back, centre) and staff celebrate their 'Outstanding' Ofsted verdict with the playgroup children.
Manager Lesley Hopewell (back, centre) and staff celebrate their 'Outstanding' Ofsted verdict with the playgroup children.

Special commemorative sweatshirts have been given to every child to mark an Ofsted report dripping with praise for a playgroup in Hucknall.

Inspectors from the education watchdog awarded Leen Mills Pre-School Playgroup, of Carlingford Road, an ‘Outstanding’ rating after a visit last month.

And their report reserved particular praise for long-standing manager Lesley Hopewell, who was described as “energetic, influential and inspiring”.

Inspectors said: “Over the years, she has earned and sustained the respect and confidence of parents, staff and other local professionals.

“She nurtures a team of highly qualified and experienced staff, and is consistently looking for ways to improve the quality of teaching and the provision for children.”

Lesley, who has managed the playgroup for 30 years, said she was “absolutely thrilled” with the report and said it identified how committed her staff were.

Leen Mills, which operates from the old Holy Cross Church and has up to 60 youngsters aged two to four, achieved the rarity of ‘Outstanding’ ratings in all categories of the Ofsted inspection.

The report said: “Staff are excellent role models for children. They enthuse and motivate children with a truly inspirational and stimulating learning environment, which ignites their curiosity as they explore with great enthusiasm.

“Staff also engage with parents exceptionally well, and parents describe the staff as brilliant and inviting, saying the children learn new things every day.”

The inspectors reported that “children display high levels of positive behaviour, and make superb progress, including those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities”.

They were also given activity bags to help parents continue their children’s learning at home.

During Lesley’s time at the playgroup, its Carlingford Road base has benefited from many improvements, including a first-floor outdoor play terrace, an interactive sensory room, a sand pit, mud kitchen and tangled climbing area.

There are now plans in the pipeline to install a mezzanine floor in the main room and to revamp the outdoor decking area.