In this series of articles, we have so far looked at making sure that your premises are safe for children to use and we have considered the steps you should take to help you ensure that all of your staff are suitable to work with children.
Documents to support you in this have been put for you here: ‘Documents relating to safeguarding articles’
As a manager when I arrive at work this is what I do:
- Which children have I got in today? Have the registers been completed properly (in pen, with actual drop off and pick up times written)?Are there any issues I need to know about (any medication for example)? Any pick-ups by new adults that need me to ensure that we use the agreed password? Any accidents or injuries that I need to know about (whether from home or those that have happened at nursery)? Anyone arriving late or leaving early? Any children still absent (do we know why they are absent?)?
By considering these I am contributing to my responsibility regarding safe pick-ups and drop offs, accidents and medication, Prevent Duty.
- Which staff are working today? Are my ratios correct? Will my ratios ‘work’ all day? Do I have the appropriately qualified staff working in the correct areas of the nursery? Do I have enough staff who are qualified in first aid throughout the nursery? Do I have any volunteer helpers today? Are there any staff who do not have DBS clearance working (they must not have unsupervised contact with children)?
By considering these I am contributing to my responsibility regarding ratios, staff suitability and qualifications.
- Are the premises safe and secure? Has the daily health and safety risk assessment been reviewed to ensure that all spaces, indoors and outside, are safe? Do I need to put any measures in place to make the premises safe (e.g. putting up a barrier in the garden? Shutting of a particular room?)
By considering these I am contributing to my responsibility regarding the safety and suitability of premises, environment and equipment
Once I am satisfied that these things are happening I can relax into my day!
I review these aspects regularly during the day: at lunchtime, after the lunchtime children have gone home and the afternoon children arrive and then as staff begin to leave towards the end of the day.
Ongoing throughout the day
My nursery is large and I am lucky enough to be supernumerary so during the day I am constantly looking and listening to the things that are going on around me. These are the kinds of things that I might be thinking about from a safeguarding point of view:
- Behaviour management: are all staff consistent in their approach and does their approach reflect our nursery policies and procedures?
- Children with additional needs: are these children accessing activities that meet their needs and do staff manage any challenges consistently as per our behaviour management policy?
- Use of the garden: if children are ‘free-flow’ between the indoor spaces and the outside are staff managing this in the agreed way to ensure that the whereabouts of children are always known? (At my nursery staff write all the names of the children on a white board in the garden and cross them off when they come inside)
- Staff taking responsibility for safeguarding: We have covered what your expectations of staff might be in a previous article. So, do staff understand and follow your agreed safeguarding policies and procedures? Do they keep their room registers up to date? Do they keep their phones locked away unless they are in the staff room? Do staff put any cleaning products away when they have used them? Do staff put tools such as sharp scissors or staplers out of reach of children, and are displays safe for children (are there pins or staples that they could get to?)? Do staff intervene or report to me if they see practice that doesn’t reflect our agreed policies and procedures? Do staff complete accident, medication and incident records promptly? Do staff check children who are sleeping regularly and record that they have done so in line with our agreed policies and procedures?
This list could go on and on! The bottom line for me is that if staff understand and implement the policies that you have in place and if your policies are robust then safeguarding is effective.
- Children sharing responsibility for safeguarding: We have always taught children the importance of mutual respect, making good choices, taking turns with friends, sharing and playing together nicely etc. Since the Common Inspection Framework it has been an explicit requirement to “actively promote British values.” This reflects the requirements written in ‘The Prevent Duty guidance.’ As the manager, on a day to basis I will go out of my way to praise children who are demonstrating these fundamental values, I will also seek to discuss with the children why they might not be displaying these values quite so favourably! If children are ‘on board’ with looking after themselves and their friends safeguarding becomes much easier to manage. For example, if children feel a collective responsibility then they are much more likely to tell us if something is wrong e.g. “George is still in the garden” (when everyone else has come inside) or “Belle is putting the beans in her mouth”. We can helpfully make a shift for children away from ‘telling tales’ to ‘being concerned for our friends’. If children are involved in risk assessments for the play environment, then they will be able to tell you when something isn’t right. For example, if children are accustomed to staff saying ‘Before we go off and play in the garden we need to make sure the gate is locked’ they will tell you very quickly if that gate is unlocked at any point. This encourages their sense of ownership in the setting and adds extra eyes and ears to your safeguarding measures – all of which are a good thing.
- Parents sharing responsibility for safeguarding: My experience tells me that parents understand the measures we have in place to safeguard their children less well than their offspring! At my nursery we explain to parents clearly when they start with us that they must not use their mobile phone in the setting; they must not post photos they have taken at Christmas plays onto social media; they must not let themselves out of the building without a member of staff present etc. However, they are still affronted when my staff ask them to put their phone away when they arrive ‘mid-conversation’. I see it as a strength on my staff that they do have the confidence to challenge a parent! I would rather explain our policies and procedures to them time and time again than I would have to explain the policies and procedures to staff.
- Confidentiality issues: considering how confidentiality is maintained is a real ‘hot topic’ at the moment. Breaches in confidentiality can put children at risk. However, with robust measures in place children can be well protected by your existing safeguarding policies and procedures. The Statutory Framework says “Providers must have and implement a policy, and procedures, to safeguard children. These should be in line with the guidance and procedures of the relevant Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)” [statutory framework, p16. 3.4]. Perhaps the subject of a future article in its own right...