Following a recent report on Good Morning Britain there has been a lot of discussion about Safeguarding within independent Nurseries. The report was based around one particular nursery and was widely criticised by the industry as painting an unfair picture; however it has raised awareness and concerns about how nurseries are inspected, leading to a call for Ofsted to review their inspection system.
Nurseries have to follow key guidance in terms of Safeguarding in order to maintain the level of protection needed in early years’ education and to meet Ofsted’s requirements.
The Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (the EYFS) outlines the necessary provisions for Safeguarding in nurseries. It states:
- Providers must have, and implement, a policy and procedures to safeguard children, which should be in line with the guidance and procedures of the Local Safeguarding Children Board; the policy and procedures must include an explanation of the action to be taken in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff, and must cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting (paragraph 3.4);
- A practitioner must be designated to take lead responsibility for Safeguarding (paragraph 3.5);
- Providers must train all staff to understand their Safeguarding policy and procedures and ensure that all staff have up-to-date knowledge of Safeguarding issues (paragraph 3.6)
- Providers must have regard for the government’s statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children’ (paragraph 3.8)
- Providers must ensure that people looking after children are suitable (paragraph 3.9); and there must be an enhanced criminal records disclosure in place for every person aged 16 or over who works directly with children, lives on the premises where childcare is provided, and/or works at the premises where the childcare is provided (unless they do not work there during the times when children are present) (paragraph 3.10);
- Registered providers must inform Ofsted or their childminder agency of any allegations of serious harm or abuse by any person living, working, or looking after children at the premises (whether the allegations relate to harm or abuse committed on the premises or elsewhere). Registered providers must also notify Ofsted or their childminder agency of the action taken in respect of the allegations. These notifications must be made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but at the latest within 14 days of the allegations being made. A registered provider who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with this requirement, is deemed to have committed an offence (paragraph 3.8);
- Providers must tell staff that they are expected to disclose any convictions, cautions, court orders, reprimands and warnings that may affect their suitability to work with children (whether received before or during their employment at the setting). Providers must not allow people whose suitability has not been checked, including through a criminal records check, to have unsupervised contact with children being cared for (paragraph 3.11).
With so much to consider, we’ve highlighted the key points below that a Nursery should be considering and following, in order to meet regulations:
- Enhanced DBS checks for all staff over 16
- Safeguarding policy and procedures in place and published to all staff and parents
- Dedicated Safeguarding lead person who is accessible but not necessarily present at all times. If the lead person is absent for leave or sickness there should be a Designated Deputy at this time.
- The lead practitioner must attend a child protection training course that enables them to identify, understand and respond appropriately to signs of possible abuse and neglect. This also applies to Childminders.
- Up-to-date Safeguarding training for all staff, so they know what to do in the event of a Safeguarding incident.
- Single Central Register documentation if it is a school-run nursery is required. Independent nurseries could also apply a similar approach to demonstrate processes, however it is not compulsory.
- Providers must have processes in place to ensure that staff are suitable to work with children. This may be helped by looking at Safer Recruitment Training for decision makers so that all staff are checked and vetted correctly at the point of employment.
- Records must be kept about staff qualifications, identity checks and vetting processes that have been completed (including the criminal records disclosure reference number, the date a disclosure was obtained and details of who obtained it).
- School-run nurseries are also required to meet the guidance set out by the Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016 act.
- Providers must notify the Disclosure and Barring Service when a member of staff is dismissed/leaves because they have harmed a child or put a child at risk of harm.
- Any worker may also be disqualified if they live in the same household as another person who is disqualified (disqualification by association). This should be made aware to all staff.
If you need any help with Safeguarding or Safer Recruitment training, Safeguarding Audits or Safeguarding policies, please get in touch with one of our team who will be happy to help. Just call 01924 827869.