Manager of under-fire Smart Kids OK centre resigns

THE woman in charge of an under-fire day care centre for autistic children has resigned.

Smart Kids OK, in Great Yarmouth, was inspected by Ofsted in October and a report did not find anything about it better than inadequate.

Lead inspector Lynn Clements found staff refused to accept medication for children with long-term health conditions such as asthma or nut allergies, drinking water was not freely available and inadequate staff training was having an impact on youngsters’ development.

She also noted there was a rodent trap with poison in the outdoor area and uneven surfaces - both of these were said to “pose a significant threat to children’s safety.”

Jacky Porter, the centre’s manager and founder, was the designated safeguarding officer but the report noted she “has not completed required training for this role.”

Deputy manager Claire Harding is acting as manager at the Gapton Hall Road centre.

Andy Bane, company secretary, said: “Jacky resigned but I can’t give any more detail than that. It’s a private matter how the decision was reached, and we’re now looking to recruit a full-time manager.”

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The centre was set a dozen targets to meet by a final deadline of February 28, and faces closure if they are not met as the centre would be removed from Ofsted’s register.

But when inspectors returned for a monitoring visit on Wednesday, February 1 they found the centre has been making good progress.

“We had a monitoring visit about our action points and we’ve met all those requirements,” said Mr Bane. “We’re expecting a further monitoring visit during half term. We’ve made lots of improvements and introduced a lot of changes to meet the requirements. Things are looking up.”

He added the 11 staff still employed by the centre remain in place. Smart Kids OK, which has 88 children on its roll, cares for children up to eight years old and is run by The Autistic Way. It opened in 2001 and operates from single storey premises which have been purposely converted for use by children with special educational needs or learning difficulties, in particular those with autistic spectrum disorders.

Mrs Porter was not available for comment.