Secret Garden nursery wins hand-wash battle

AN OUTDOOR nursery in north east Fife has won its battle over its hand hygiene policy.

The award-winning Secret Garden nursery, which operates entirely in woods near Letham, had been asked by childcare regulator the Care Commission to provide soap and water for washing children's hands.

But after an outcry from staff and parents who feared the nursery could face closure, the two parties have come to an agreement that will see soap and water used only when "practicable", with wipes and gels used at other times.

Cathy Bache, the Secret Garden's founder and care manager, said the nursery "could not have asked for any more".

She said: "The Care Commission has really engaged with us about this issue, visiting us in the woods, meeting parents, considering expert evidence we've collected and discussing ways forward with us.

"We sometimes roam over considerable distances and it has proved completely impossible to carry enough water with us to wash the children's hands properly.

"It's a great relief to know that we can carry on allowing the children to play where they want in the woods.

"I hope this decision will encourage more early years providers to take their children into the great outdoors."

Months of discussion between the Secret Garden and the Care Commission have resulted in a new hand hygiene policy for the nursery — although it will still only be graded at a maximum of 'adequate' during inspections.

Read more in this week's Fife Herald.