A north Watford pre-school has dropped down the Ofsted ratings from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

The Courtyard Pre-School, Leavesden Road, was found to have slipped by inspectors since the watchdog’s last visit in 2011.

The school was told to improve on its leadership and management, contribution to the well-being of its children and how well its early years provision meets the needs of its pupils.

Inspector Maura Pigram said: "Staff do not consistently use information gained from observation and assessment to monitor children’s learning and development. As a result, activities are not always challenging, to help children make good progress in their learning and development.

"Staff do not consistently use visual aids, timelines, photographs and real objects during activities, so that younger children and those with English as an additional language are able to express themselves."

Her report also noted action to minimise identified safety risks effectively is not always done promptly and criticised the procedures to ensure parents are fully involved in sharing information as not "sufficiently robust".

However, she commended pre-school staff on being "warm, kind and caring" and The Courtyard for celebrating different cultural events and for its robust safeguarding procedures to protect the children’s welfare.

Inspector Pigram added: "Parents provide detailed information about their children’s starting points. As a result, children settle easily."

The Courtyard will be monitored and inspected again within 12 months.

The inspector observed children’s play and staff interactions during indoor and outdoor play and snack time. She also spoke to children and staff and obtained the views of parents while they were collecting their children.

To meet the requirements of an early learning provider, the report states The Courtyard must improve knowledge of assessments so information gained from observations can be used more effectively to gain an understanding of the children’s progress and be incorporated in their learning and development plans.

In addition the pre-school must risk assess the play mats and strengthen opportunities for parents to contribute more.

Rev Guy Miller, general manager of The Courtyard Pre-school and Nursery, said a number of actions had been completed since the inspection on March 27 and they are waiting for Ofsted to revisit.

He said: "Staff have been encouraged to use their observation results to plan more challenging learning experiences for the children.

"The [play] mat was removed after the inspector deemed it unsafe in her opinion. The ABC mats have been included on our daily risk assessment sheet.

"A form has been devised to encourage parents to give us more information about their child’s home learning and development.

"Learning apparatus equipment has been added to the risk assessment. The ABC mats have been included on our daily risk assessment sheet.

"Learning apparatus equipment has been added to the daily risk assessment."