A formal complaint from Health Minister Humza Yousaf over a crèche he accused of discriminating against his daughter has been upheld.
Following a joint investigation with the Daily Record and Yousafs, the Care Inspectorate found that the Little Scholars in Broughty Ferry “did not promote justice, equality and respect” when offering rankings.
In a survey triggered by Mr Yousaf’s wife Nadia El-Nakla, the kindergarten said there was no room for three applicants who had ethnic, Muslim-sounding names, including the couple’s daughter Amal.
In response to false inquiries from three mothers with non-ethnic names, Dundee Kindergarten said there were vacancies.
Today, the Care Inspectorate said they had upheld a complaint filed by Mr. Yousaf, who had asked for an explanation of the conflicting answers from Little Scholars Nursery in Broughty Ferry.
A spokesman said: “We found that the service did not promote justice, equality and respect when offering placements.
“Every child in Scotland has the right to good quality care that meets their needs and respects their rights.”
“We have identified areas for improvement and we will follow up on these to monitor progress.
“We will continue to monitor this service. If we are not satisfied that the necessary improvements have been made, we will not hesitate to take further steps.”
The nursery had vehemently denied the allegations, previously saying that any accusation that it was not open and inclusive to all was “demonstrably false”.
Nadia first applied for a place for Amal in September 2020 and again in May.
In an earlier interview with the Daily Record, Nadia said Mill’s responses were so “similarly abrupt” that she felt compelled to explore further.
She said: “I had called the previous year and talked to someone who told me that unless I filled out a very detailed registration form, they could not even tell me availability.
“I did not want to pass on so much personal information so early in an inquiry. This time I felt rejected again, even though I filled out the registration form. For me, it did not make business sense for a crèche to dismiss me and not even offer a waiting list without to be pressured.
“I just felt in my stomach that something was wrong. So I decided to inquire by using non-ethnic names to see what it evoked. “
Nadia, who works for Dundee East MSP Shona Robison, asked on May 10 this year for a place for Amal two afternoons a week from August.
She was told the next day by Mill that “at present I have no vacancies in the nursery”.
On May 11, when Nadia asked if she could be put on a waiting list, Mill said she should fill out a registration form, but “there is no guarantee that a seat will be available”.
Three hours later, at Nadia’s request, her friend Julie Kelly sent an email to Mill asking for a seat for her son, who was also two. She was asked to fill out a registration form so “we will be able to check availability for you”.
Julie asked for unemployment without filling out the form – an option that had been denied to Nadia when she had asked for it last year.
On May 12, Mill Julie told that Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons were vacant from July, as was a nursery tour.
This was despite Nadia being told that there was no availability “at present” less than 24 hours earlier.
When Julie did not respond, Mill proactively asked her on May 17 to say that if the seats were not desired – “due to high demand” they would “return on offer” later in the week to other parents. Julie declined the seats on May 18th.
Meanwhile, on May 12, her relative Sara Ahmad applied for accessibility. At Mills’ request, she submitted a registration form on May 14th. Like Julie, she had a two-year-old child. She was also flexible in terms of days and start times, but was told by Mill on May 20 that there was no availability “at this time or in the foreseeable future”.
Mill had by this time already kept Sara’s application form for six days, but did not offer her the places that had been released on May 17 by Julie and which were to “go back on offer”.
On May 20, the day Sara was denied, Nadia sent a fake email under the name Suzy Sheppard asking for two half days for a two-year-old.
The next day, Mill asked Sheppard to fill out a form and she would check availability. After returning from annual leave on June 15, she confirmed she had a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday available for a two-year-old.
In July, Record made its own queries with fake names.
During Aqsa Akhtar, we asked Mill on July 7 for any afternoons free for a three-year-old daughter Amira.
Five days later upon request, on July 12, Mill replied that there was “no availability for a three-year-old,” and unlike the non-ethnic cases, there was no offer of a registration form, a tour of the nursery, or a unsolicited option for a waiting list.
That night, we sent an email under the name Susan Blake in a few afternoons at any given time to Sophie at three. The next day, Mill sent a registration form and a leaflet.
She said she wanted to see where Sophie “would fit into our records” and to “let you know about availability and arrange a suitable time for an exhibition round for you”. This was contrary to her statement the day before to Sara that there was resolutely “no availability for a three-year-old”.
On July 19, we asked for specific availability before filling out the registration form. Three days later, Mills apologized for a delay as she had not been in the office but said she could “accommodate any afternoon except a Friday”.
She then offered times when she could give Susan a tour.
When contacted by Record, Mills emphatically denied any discrimination, saying no applicants in the past year had been offered a place that had not been on the waiting list for at least six months.
But there were offers of vacancies and tours for Suzy and Susan, and places were held for Julie – despite the fact that none of them were on the waiting list.
The Care Inspectorate found no evidence that the crèche had a waiting list at all.
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