Little Ted's was 'ideal environment' for George abuse

Vanessa George. Pic: Devon and Cornwall Police George admitted carrying out sexual assaults and making indecent pictures

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A Plymouth nursery where a worker sexually abused children "provided an ideal environment" for her to abuse, a report has found.

The review into abuse at Little Ted's nursery found that a lack of formal staff supervision was partly to blame.

Vanessa George, 40, from Plymouth, was jailed last year for a minimum of seven years after admitting abusing toddlers at the nursery and photographing it.

No other staff at Little Ted's were involved in the abuse.

The nursery was closed in June last year and a new pre-school facility called Greenshoots opened at the site two months ago.

Plymouth City Council initiated the serious case review into what happened at Little Ted's, in Laira, so that lessons could be learnt.

George admitted seven sexual assaults and six counts of making and distributing indecent pictures of children.

The review concluded that Little Ted's "provided an ideal environment within which George could abuse".

'Weak governance'

It found there appeared to have been a complete lack of recognition of the seriousness of the boundary violation and a culture in which explicit sexual references about adults in conversation were the norm.

The review concluded that there was a "weak governance framework" at the private nursery with "no clear lines of accountability".

It said the environment enabled a culture to develop in which staff did not feel able to challenge some inappropriate behaviour by George.

Staff became increasingly uncomfortable and worried about George's behaviour, but felt they had nowhere to go with these feelings, it said.

Site of Little Ted's nursery Little Ted's nursery was closed following the discovery of abuse of young children there

It found an informal recruitment process was also partly to blame.

Because nurseries have had to be registered with the education watchdog Ofsted since 2001, the case review also looked at whether Ofsted's regulation regime was sufficiently thorough.

An inspection of Little Ted's in 2008, about seven months before George began abusing children there, rated the nursery as "good" for protecting children from harm or neglect.

However, from staff interviews and discussions with parents as well as a review of the records, it was apparent that Little Ted's did not provide a safe, positive environment for children in its care.

The report said: "This would indicate that either the individual inspections were not rigorous enough, or the framework for inspection is not adequate."

However it found there was no indication "that any professional could have reasonably predicted that George might be a risk to children".

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