Nurseries, as with all care and education settings, can be hugely important in the development of a child. As a result, it’s vital that they are places where children are safe and healthy. Safeguarding is the action or set of actions undertaken by those responsible for children in order to ensure this. Children of all genders, ethnicities, religions and ages are covered. In this article, we’re going to look in more detail at what safeguarding means, who it is applicable to, and how it works in practice in the nursery.
For more detailed information about safeguarding, consider enrolling on our Introduction to Safeguarding Children Course. Click here to find out more.
The UK government provides guidance on what it expects safeguarding to mean, and in the Working together to safeguard children (2015) document, they present four points that define the initiative. They are the following:
There are also two main pieces of legislation that detail the legal duties that come under safeguarding. They are the Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004. They will not be covered in this article, but you can read more about them on the GOV.UK site.
Ultimately, safeguarding is about making sure that children are well looked after when they are not at home, and it has a fairly broad remit. Most elements of safeguarding would be considered completely normal parts of the nursery environment, but the government mandates safeguarding as an initiative to ensure that all bases are covered.
Safeguarding policies are relevant to all members of staff within a nursery. Everyone has a responsibility to the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care. Sound policies should ensure that everyone knows their role, but it is also important to note that Ofsted now requires that there is a Lead Safeguarding Practitioner on the premises at all times the nursery is open. This has changed from previous rules that simply required there to be a Lead Safeguarding Practitioner employed by the nursery. It’s the job of this person to makes sure that safeguarding policies are in place and being followed.
It is also worth noting that safeguarding is not just used in the nursery - it is applicable to children up to the age of 18.
In most nurseries, a safeguarding policy should be put in place, which will help ensure that all of the criteria of safeguarding are met. Below are some of the main areas that these policies will cover:
In order for a nursery to comply fully with its safeguarding duties, and ensure that children are being looked after to the best of the nursery’s ability, it is paramount that all members of staff receive adequate training, understand their responsibilities, and follow a sound policy.