Inspecting safeguarding in the early years

Some of you may have recently come across some new guidance on ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings’.

I wanted to make clear that this does not replace the requirements laid out in the ‘Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage’ (the EYFS).  All providers of early education and care, working with children from birth to the 31 August following their fifth birthday, must continue to meet the EYFS requirements. 

I thought that I’d use my Nursery World blog to remind readers of what these requirements state:

  • 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 on the premises on which the childcare is provided (unless they do not work there during the times when children are present) (paragraph 3.10).

While the EYFS sets the statutory requirements that providers have to meet, registered early years providers may find it useful to refer to the additional guidance in ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings’ as this exemplifies good practice in relation to all providers who are offering care and education for children.

FAQs for registered early years providers

Do the requirements in ‘Keeping children safe in education’ apply to registered early years providers?

No, registered early years providers are not governed by the Department for Education’s guidance on ‘Keeping children safe in education’.  However, schools that offer early years services are covered, and other providers might also find the guidance useful, for instance in giving examples of how settings can check the suitability of staff.

Do I need to have a single central record of DBS checks for my staff?

The requirement for a single central record only applies to schools and colleges.  However, other early years providers must be able to demonstrate to Ofsted, during inspection, that they have carried out the necessary DBS checks on all relevant staff. 

Do I have to change all my references in policies/procedures from ‘safeguarding’ to ‘child protection’?

 No - and it doesn’t matter if you call your policy a safeguarding policy or a child protection policy, as long as it meets the requirements set out in EYFS.

Do I have to renew my safeguarding training every two years?

 There is no need for you to renew training at any particular intervals, but under the EYFS requirements you must ensure that all staff caring for children have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding.

Does my designated safeguarding lead have to be on the premises at all times?

The EYFS does not specify that the designated safeguarding lead must be on the premises at all times, but they do need to be accessible. 

In practice, this means that the setting must know who the designated officer is and that they are contactable if needed.

They do not have to be physically present, but all staff must know what to do in the event of a safeguarding incident and know who to speak to.

If there is a long period of absence from the setting, for example due to illness, the setting must appoint someone to be the temporary designated officer, to ensure continuity of care and welfare for children.

Do I need to have a deputy designated safeguarding person in place at all times?

There is no requirement under EYFS for every setting to have a deputy designated safeguarding person. However, settings must ensure that they have appropriate arrangements in place to deal with safeguarding matters when the safeguarding lead is absent from the setting, for example during a period of annual leave.

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