CHILDREN at a newly “inadequate” nursery were spotted “poking knives at each other” at mealtime during an Ofsted inspection but the director disputes this observation.

Cherry Tree Children’s Day Nursery, in Main Street, Menston, was given the lowest rating possible after the education watchdog visited on November 14 last year.

Just four years ago, the setting was given 'good' but this time around the Ofsted inspector, Nicola Dickinson, found a number of safety concerns.

The report, published on Thursday, said: “Children are not kept safe and protected at all times because there are significant weaknesses in the provider's safeguarding practice.”

Pre-school children and toddlers at the setting – which caters for 43 youngsters between the ages of zero to four – are not “adequately supervised” at mealtimes, according to Ms Dickinson.

The report said: “While children are eating, staff leave the room or complete routine tasks, such as washing crockery.

“During the inspection, a toddler fell from their chair and older children poked the knives they have been using for eating at each other.”

Kate Roe, director of Cherry Tree, disputed this though.

She said: “One child picked up his knife, as children do, waggling it around, not poking it.”

Ilkley Gazette: Cherry Tree Children's Day Nursery, in Main Street, MenstonCherry Tree Children's Day Nursery, in Main Street, Menston (Image: Telegraph & Argus)

Ofsted found fire exits at the nursery are “difficult to open” and Ms Dickinson said staff “would not be able to open them if they were carrying a child”.

The report also said: “In addition, the provider does not ensure that staff have a clear understanding of what to do in the event of an emergency.

“This could cause unnecessary delays to staff evacuating the building and compromises children's and staff's safety.”

Ms Roe said: “The fire doors did open, they were just a little bit stiff after weeks and weeks of rain and they’re wooden doors, but they opened.”

She added: “They didn’t take into account the two rooms with the slightly stiff doors had another exit.”

The report said despite the “significant weaknesses”, parents appreciate the care and support from staff which their children enjoy and generally they also promote their communication and language skills.

Ms Roe claims the nursery has been fighting the “inadequate” rating for the past five months and will continue to do so now the report has been published.

She said: “There’s not anything in there that we agree with really”.

Ms Roe added: “It’s affected the staff’s mental health massively, but they’re a strong team and the support they’ve received today has really helped”.

The response from parents in the wake of the report being published has been “phenomenal”, according to the nursery director.

The Telegraph & Argus contacted Ofsted to respond to Ms Roe’s comments.

A spokesperson for the education watchdog said: “I’m afraid we don’t comment on individual schools or inspections.

“An early years provider judged to be inadequate will usually be reinspected within six months of their last inspection, in line with our early years inspection handbook.”