"PASSIONATE" practitioners in Colchester have been praised for sparking children’s imaginations and promoting their independence.

Education watchdog Ofsted visited Little Avenues Pre-school, in Broome Grove, Wivenhoe, in July and published its findings last week.

The childcare provider, which was last visited by inspectors in 2017, was rated “good” in all four areas of the inspection.

Outlining her findings, Ofsted inspector Helen Clutterham wrote: “[The staff] are enthusiastic about their roles, and this is evident in their behaviour with children.”

Gazette: Watchdog - Ofsted rated the pre-school as 'good'Watchdog - Ofsted rated the pre-school as 'good'

She observed children playing happily in a safe environment and being given the freedom to choose what they would like to play with.

The nursery was also praised for promoting the independence of its children, but the inspector pointed out this could be improved further by staff consistently challenging the children to be more independent when carrying out everyday routines like mealtimes.

The report continued: “[Parents] are complimentary of the steps taken to help children settle into the pre-school. Parents' written comments state that practitioners create 'a very kind, attentive, and caring place for children to thrive'.”

Little Avenues, which employs 13 staff and looks after 41 children, has boasted an unblemished record since it registered as a childcare provider in 2012.