EXCLUSIVE: Early years provider fined for running illegal nursery

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Ofsted has prosecuted a provider for operating a nursery in East London illegally, after a tip-off.

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Mike Sheridan, Ofsted's regional director for London: 'We are looking into other cases of unregistered provision in the early years, schools and social care settings'

It has subequently come to light that the nursery received more than £40,000 in local authority funding from the London Borough of Newham, which was under the impression that the setting was still registered.

Michael Munilu Senyonjo was found guilty of running Winsor Park Nursery between November 2014 and April 2016.

It is the first time for a number of years that Ofsted has taken an unregistered provider to court.

The case was heard at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 30 May. The defendant was charged with two offences: providing childcare for children aged from birth to five, and providing childcare for children aged five to eight.

The defendant entered not guilty pleas to both charges but was found guilty after trial. Mr Munilu Senyonjo was fined £100 for each offence and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

The judge stressed to Ofsted that he wanted to impose a heavier fine but this was not possible because of the defendant’s financial situation.

Ofsted became aware of the situation after an anonymous source reported that the business had been dissolved, thus invalidating its registration and insurance. It was dissolved in November 2014 but the nursery continued to operate until it was closed by Ofsted in June 2016.

Mr Munilu Senyonjo had previously run Keystone Nursery on the same site. This setting was rated ‘requires improvement’ at its last inspection in March 2013. Mr Munilu Senyonjo had resigned the registration for this setting and then registered the Winsor Park Nursery at the premises.

On visiting the nursery, Ofsted found out that the registration for Winsor Park was no longer valid and closed it down with immediate effect. The inspector told the provider that he had to stop operating immediately and he complied.

The nursery contacted the children’s parents to make them aware of this. Ofsted then visited again to check the setting was not still operating.

Ofsted is looking into various reports of people providing unregistered care.

The council confirmed that the setting received £43,154 between Autumn 2014 and Summer 2016 for the funded hours. There were 33 two-year-olds and 24 three-and four-year-olds in receipt of the funding.

A spokesperson the London Borough of Newham said, 'The council worked with Ofsted to ensure that action was taken against Mr Senyonjo. We hope this court case will deter others from acting illegally. We will now  work with our lawyers to recoup all the money that Mr Senyonjo fraudulently received.'

mike-sheridanMike Sheridan, Ofsted’s regional director for London, (right), said, ‘This is an important prosecution. Nurseries must register with Ofsted so that we can check that they are safe and well-run. Unregistered nurseries and child­­minders potentially put children’s safety and well-being at risk. It is simply unacceptable for an early years setting to operate without registering with us.

‘Our actions here show that we can and will take action against anyone working without regard for the rules and regulations governing early years provision. Parents and legitimate providers of childcare would expect nothing less from us.

‘Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case and we are ever alert to where providers are flouting the law and risking children’s well-being. We have previously prosecuted unregistered early years providers and we are currently looking into other cases of unregistered provision in the early years, schools and social care settings.

 ‘If you are concerned that you or someone else might be running an unregistered setting, you should contact us.’

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