Nursery staff face the sack after two-year-old’s escape

STAFF at a council-run city nursery are facing the sack after a girl managed to escape from the facility and wander into a main road.

As a full probe into the incident began yesterday, it emerged that a gate to the rear of Granton Children and Families Centre, which is used as an emergency exit, had been left open, allowing the two-year-old to flee.

The girl was then found by horrified members of the public standing in Pilton Drive North, which is a busy bus route, after a car with a learner driver behind the wheel reportedly had to swerve to avoid knocking her over.

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The council revealed that new measures are now set to be rolled out across all nurseries in the city in a bid to prevent similar blunders from occurring in the future.

Councillor Paul Godzik, convener of the council’s children and families committee, said: “Initial feedback is that the incident was due to human error. A gate, which is only used as an emergency exit, appears to have been left unlocked.

“Staff carry out a check of the grounds each day before children are allowed out to play and it appears that in this case it wasn’t checked.

“A rigid checklist procedure has now been put in place to prevent this from ever happening again – a similar system is used in other facilities and I have asked officers to ensure this is the case in all nurseries.”

Cllr Godzik added: “Disciplinary action will be taken as part of this investigation.”

It is still not known how long the child was missing for. She was brought back to the nursery after a speculative inquiry was made by the members of the public looking after the girl, and staff admitted that they had lost the child.

As part of the new checklist measures which have been put in place, staff at Granton Children and Families Centre and other council-run facilities throughout Edinburgh will have to check possible escape routes and sign a formal checklist before children are allowed outside to play.

The checklists will then be available as part of inspections to ensure safety measures are being followed.

The gate which was left unlocked leads on to land surrounding the neighbouring Royston Wardieburn Community Education Centre. The child would have then had to cross grassland and pass through another open gate at the entrance to the community centre, before she attempted to cross Pilton Drive North.

Sources said yesterday that the staff members responsible for the potential tragedy could be sacked following the investigation, which will be carried out by council workers who are not directly connected with the nursery.

Council deputy leader Steve Cardownie represents the Forth ward where the children’s centre is situated.

He said: “If a council employee is guilty then I would expect the appropriate action to be taken. That a child of that age is able to get away and walk out into a busy street is a very serious matter. It shouldn’t happen and the council won’t take it lightly.”