A new guidance for Inspecting safeguarding in early years was issued today along with a summary list of the changes – watch out for the deliberate mistakes in the numbers in this last document – for 13 read 18. I suspect this document will be referenced in the new EYFS 2016 (if it ever arrives!) – although as they have put a link into the EYFS 2014 I’m not holding my breath and the link to the childcare 2006 disqualification information doesn’t even work – but then it’s been updated so no surprise there.
What’s changed and why? Well on the former I can say it is the addition of a few phrases – some more far-reaching than others and for the latter I would say to ensure they are covering changes that have come about in other legislation such as FGM, Mental Health and SEND and even possibly the new EYFS. These groups are considered in various ways throughout the document which suggests we need to consider them in our own policies as well.
However, I am unsure as to why the word safeguarding has been replaced by child protection in paragraph 18 – does this mean we now need to re-create a child protection policy if it was previously incorporated into a Safeguarding Policy? I think quite possibly yes. And it refers to things we need to include in our policy – peer to peer abuse (isn’t that bullying?) but in a way so that ‘the risk is covered adequately’. It is certainly tightening up on our responsibilities with staff, volunteers and safeguarding leads where reference is made throughout for everyone to have ‘their knowledge and skills refreshed at regular intervals, but at least annually’. It also clarifies that we must have a Designated Safeguarding Lead or ‘an appropriately trained deputy’ available during all of our opening hours which is going to be a tough call to start with – get appointing those deputies now! (luckily we are starting to deliver Safeguarding Lead Training in the near future!)
And who currently has a ‘Staff Behaviours’ Policy – or policies even? Whilst they might not be called that – we have a Professional Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest Policy alongside Performance Descriptors and Expectations of Staff – can we be sure they will cover what is expected within the new wording which states these need to be in place ‘to keep all children and learners safe’. What other specific staff behaviours must we be making policies for – there could be so many!
The other main area that has been included is to do with internet and online safety. We now have to ‘ensure that children are taught about safeguarding risks, including online risks’ and that we have ‘appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place to protect learners from potentially harmful material online’ – have you all got your content control in hand? (Another training course perhaps?)
Aside from these main differences there are some subtle changes in the wording about pre-inspection gathering of evidence and internet checks, does this slightly change the emphasis in some areas? – well they haven’t made the changes for no reason – and to me it points much more at why we see so many more settings being suspended – too much presence of the wrong kind on the internet and social media may not be our friend after all! The inclusion of wording like ‘inspectors should probe further’ when it comes to safeguarding, whilst this can be understood on the one hand, on the other you have to consider that they might probe so hard, to find something that actually isn’t there but they think it is (if that makes sense) – I hear of many instances where things are taken out of context and then it goes downhill from there!
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About the author: Tricia Wellings
Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.
You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk