‘Outstanding’ Walthamstow nursery closed after missing child incident

Children's play area
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

A three-year-old child was found roaming in Lloyd Park by police, reports Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter

An ‘outstanding’ Walthamstow nursery has been suspended by education watchdog Ofsted after a three-year-old boy went missing.

The boy’s mother told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he was found on his own in Lloyd Park after leaving an outdoor space used by Lloyd Park Centre through an open gate.

She said she arrived to collect him from the centre’s ‘Grow Wild’ adventure play area on Thursday 22nd April, only to find him in the arms of a police officer. She was told he went missing for “at least half an hour”.

Lloyd Park Children’s Charity, which runs the centre, was earlier warned by Ofsted to ensure that children are “always within sight or hearing” of staff. This followed a separate incident in February.

The boy’s mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said she still struggled to speak about the incident without crying and that it would be “very difficult” to trust the nursery again.

She said: “I really hope they’ll learn from their mistake because it should be all about the safety of the children there and I was trusting them to look after my son and keep him safe.

“[The police] told me that my son managed to get out of the nursery because the gate wasn’t locked and they found him in the sandpit playing by himself.

“He was missing for at least half an hour without anyone knowing, they never realised he was missing until police brought him back to them.

“I heard another mum saying that this happened before and she won’t bring her child back to this nursery again.”

The three-year-old was found by a stranger, who started to worry when no-one went to him after he began crying, and was then looked after by park rangers until police arrived.

A police spokesperson confirmed they were called to the park at around 11am to “an unaccompanied child”, adding that “no criminal offences were established”.

The boy’s mother added that, the day before her son went missing, his dad picked him up and was concerned to find him “all by himself on a ramp crying his eyes out”.

She said: “They told his dad in a really rude way that the kids are allowed to explore, and the next day this happened.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted confirmed this week that the nursery “has been suspended” but said they “cannot provide further details while we investigate the matter”.

It means Lloyd Park Children’s Charity, which runs the nursery, will not be able to provide childcare services for at least six weeks. A spokesperson for the charity said they “cannot release any information” at this stage “due to the investigation”.

Lloyd Park Centre holds Ofsted’s highest possible ‘outstanding’ rating after its most recent inspection in 2018.